The duration of /ae/ and /ai/

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Wed Jan 23 11:09:23 UTC 2008


In the parts of Labov et al. (i.e., the ANAE) you can't see, there
are very strict accounts of both consideration of stress and
exclusion of certain function words.

I know; it's expensive (and I got mine free).


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       LanDi Liu <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM>
>Subject:      Re: The duration of /ae/ and /ai/
>I'd like to chime in and say thank you, as well.  It's really great to see
>someone plotting it over time.  There is so much variation in that vowel.
>I didn't join ADS (yet), so I can't see the article [feel free to send me a
>PDF!  : ), but plotting multiple points gives a much clearer picture.
>Ash-tensing plays a big role in this, as do reduced forms of function
>I was very disappointed with Labov's "Atlas of North American English" for
>this reason.  In that book (or at least the free parts I could see on the
>web), it was clear that in tracing differences in pronunciation of the word
>"can", and dividing it's pronunciation into dialects based on whether or no=
>the vowel was tensed, Labov et al. seem to have ignored that function words
>can be accented or not, affecting the tensing of ash: "I can do it." (not
>tensed because it is reduced) vs. "Yes, I can." (tensed because it is
>Anyway, bravo for plotting multiple points!
>On Jan 22, 2008 1:00 AM, Joseph Salmons <jsalmons at> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Joseph Salmons <jsalmons at WISC.EDU>
>>  Subject:      The duration of /ae/ and /ai/
>>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
>>  The article in question is this:
>>  Jacewicz, Ewa, Joseph Salmons & Robert Allen Fox. 2007. Vowel duration
>>  across three American dialects. American Speech 82.367-385.
>>  The main finding is that, in our sample, vowels produced by speakers
>>  from westernmost North Carolina are significantly longer than those of
>>  speakers from southern/eastern Wisconsin (Madison and points east and
>>  somewhat northeast -- basically, the western edge of the Northern
>>  Cities area), while central Ohio (the Columbus area) takes an
>>  intermediate position.
>>  We did indeed find that /ae/, the vowel in 'bat' and 'bad', was longer
>>  than /aI/, the vowel in 'bite' and 'bide', in looking across the whole
>>  set of dialects. I don't have the numbers in front of me right now,
>>  but I think /ae/ and /aI/ were pretty comparable in duration for NC
>>  speakers, but /ae/ was longer for Ohio and Wisconsin speakers.
>>  Our NC speakers had pretty monophthongal /aI/, as you'd expect, but it
>>  is surely not a monophthong in Wisconsin.  It's important to note
>>  that /ae/ is really diphthongal, especially in Wisconsin. Tom Purnell
>>  is doing really nice work finding the same kind of pattern across
>>  Wisconsin and into Minnesota. If you plot Upper Midwestern /ae/ in the
>>  F1/F2 space over multiple points of its duration, in fact, you'll see
>>  a striking U shape for many speakers. I guess the traditional reliance
>>  on single measurements at the mid-point of the vowel or even two
>>  measurements has tended to obscure just how much movement there is in
>>  this vowel.
>>  Joe
>>  On Jan 20, 2008, at 10:13 PM, James Harbeck wrote:
>>  > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>  > -----------------------
>>  > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  > Poster:       James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>
>>  > Subject:      Re: which would take longer to say /ae/ or /ai/
>>  >
>>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
>>  >
>>  > I would think that in those dialects where the I
>  > > in /aI/ is elided, the tendency would be to
>>  > lengthen it in order to preserve distinctiveness
>>  > (those who are more used to Southern US speech
>>  > can comment on whether this seems actually to be
>>  > the case). I don't have the current issue of AD
>>  > (this reminds me: I need to go do some business
>>  > at the ADS website) -- is there an indication of
>>  > the sample base? It would be useful to break it
>>  > out by rendering of the diphthong, or at least
>>  > geographically.
>>  >
>>  > Is any suggestion made in the article to account
>>  > for the relative times -- tongue movement time,
>>  > for instance, or typical context, or need for
>>  > distinction (in some Northern dialects now the
>>  > area around [=E6] is getting crowded, I think)?
>>  >
>>  > James Harbeck.
>>  >
>>  > ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  > The American Dialect Society -
>>  ------------------------------------------------------------
>>  The American Dialect Society -
>Randy Alexander
>Jilin City, China
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society -

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