isoglosses for hw/w

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 30 02:45:37 UTC 2008

It probably depends upon what "unknown anywhere" means. In a seminar
on dialectology held at the University of California, Davis, in 1970,
all of whose participants were white, middle-class, native
Californians from as far north as the Oregon border and from as far
south as San Diego, both hicks from the sticks and city folks, except
for the professor, a native of Louisiana, and your humble
correspondent, a native of Texas, it was unanimously agreed that [E]
before nasals was simply non-occurrent in the speech of anyone in that
class, being replaced by [I]. One seminar member from up near the
Oregon border commented that, in as much as he didn't say, e.g. [tEn]
back home, why should he attempt to learn to say it at Davis, when
nobody said it there, either.

Since I've been living in the Boston area, I've met and even had as
housemates, all of them white Californians from such places as La
Jolla and Pacific Palisades, people who complained of being ridiculed
by the locals for their inability to produce [E] before a nasal.

If the phenomenon is found among a random sampling of white,
middle-class, college students from UG Davis and M.I.T., well, the
conclusion to be drawn seems clear. The question answers itself. ;-)


On 1/29/08, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Re: isoglosses for hw/w
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I missed most of this thread, but the statement that "hem" and "him"
> are not distinguished in California seemed amazing to me.
> I lived in the Bay Area for a little more than three years and never
> noticed this merger. It's possible that I missed it (when I lived
> there, other pronunciations were pointed out to me that I had
> missed), but I don't think I would miss that one. One impression I
> had in California, for example, was that some people born and raised
> in California have the cot-caught merger and others do not. Also,
> California is a big place with a lot of recent migration.
> Could it be that "hem" and "him" is distinguished by some people in
> California or at least in some regions, or is it truly unknown anywhere?
> Benjamin Barrett
> a cyberbreath for language life
> On Jan 29, 2008, at 7:29 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> >
> >
> > At 10:13 AM -0500 1/29/08, David Bowie wrote:
> >> From:    Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> >>
> >>> If North Midland distinguishes between, e.g. "hem, ten" and "him,
> >>> tin," a distinction unknown in California, then U.S. West can't
> >>> possibly be what happened when North Midland expanded westward.
> >>
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