/ei/ ~ /i:/ in "Kean"

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Tue Dec 17 15:44:06 UTC 2002


There is indeed if you suffer from established northernism, but they
remain quite distinct for southern US speakers. As is well-known (in
the so-called Southern Vowel Shift), /ay/ monophthongizes and shifts
front (so that "rhyme" sounds like something between "rom" and
"ram"). This leaves the /ay/ slot open, and /ey/ (what you call "long
a") lowers its onset, and, straynge to say, /ey/ sounds like /ay/.
Once /ey/ has fallen to /ay/, its space is vacated and the onset of
/iy/ ( what you call "long e") lowers into /ey/ space, giving just
the Kean ----> Kane result you are looking for.


>My wife asks:
>When I was listening to NPR last night, the reader said "Thomas Kane"
>had been appointed to head the commission investigating 9/11. Who?
>"The former governer of New Jersey" she went on. Gee, I thought, isn't
>that Thomas Kean, pronounced "Keen"?
>It is indeed. So my question is, did the reader misread her text, or are
>there places where it is sometimes hard to distinguish a long e from a
>long a?
>-- Mark A. Mandel
>    Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 353-9290

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