dangers of dialect

Gordon, Matthew J. GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU
Sat Jan 24 15:00:51 UTC 2009

In American English, speakers who have different vowels in 'on' and 'off' are in the minority. The unrounded vowel in 'on' is traditionally only found in the North while Midlands and Southern speakers have the open-o just as in 'off'. Now with the rise of the "awe-droppers" (coming soon to a theater near you!) even more Americans will have no vocalic distinction between these vowels.

I'll leave it to Tom to search the FAA crash statistics to show a correlation between dialect and air disaster.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Tom Zurinskas
Sent: Sat 1/24/2009 8:07 AM
Subject:      Re: dangers of dialect
Good one.  That poor cat.

To me dialect is mostly about pronunciation rather than colloquialisms.

The worst part about dialects is the confusion it can cause, like the above example of the word, "line," mistaken for the word "lion".

In ATC the two most confused numbers are 5 and 9, both having the same vowel.  Controllers and pilots are instructed to say "niner" for 9.  This vowel similarity portends a problem with "awe-droppers" putting the "ah" (~aa) sound in the word "off" (~auf) giving it the same vowel as "on" (~aan).  In a noisy environment an awe-dropper giving the instruction to leave something "off" (~aaf) could be interpreted as "on".  Not good.  There is no good thing coming out of awe-dropping.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+
see truespel.com

> Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 07:50:09 -0800
> From: zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
> Subject: dangers of dialect
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Arnold Zwicky
> Subject: dangers of dialect
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> illustrated here:
> http://arnoldzwicky.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/dialect-dangerous-to-cats/
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