Pen-pen merger

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 5 02:08:36 UTC 2002

At 10:58 AM -0700 12/4/02, Rudolph C Troike wrote:
>         I also have the merger "stem" and "strength". It was only a few
>years ago that I learned that anyone pronounced an /E/ in "friend" (thanks
>to Gordon for mentioning that), since I have to rely on spelling to guess
>which phoneme differentiators use. (Of course, this sometimes results in a
>hyper-form for "English" for some Southerners.) I was listening to a talk
>on morphology once by a colleague from New Jersey, and was bothered that
>he seemed to have a non-English accent in his pronunciation, so I started
>focusing on that, and soon realized that it was the high frequency of the
>term "stem", with /E/, that created that impression for me.
>         Rudy

Thanks, Rudy.  (And thanks to Gordon for the previous message.)  I'll
relay these to my student, who I'm sure will be appreciative of the
suggestions, examples, and references.  He actually gave "English"
(the fact that he uses an [I] there) as an instance of the merger in
his own Mississippian variety, and I assured him that we New Yorkers
and other pin/pen distinguishers, also have an [I] in "English".


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