Hoarse, four, mourning etc.

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Thu Jul 1 08:15:51 UTC 2010

Does any dialect of American English have a rule which shifts
historical NORTH words to FORCE when a labial precedes?  This would
affect morning/mourning (and, possibly for/four), but also words like
pork and port.  This is a really old rule (late ME/Older Scots) in
Scots and Northern English dialects, where you get [o:] or [U@]
instead of [O:], in both rhotic and non-rhotic dialects.
I've heard Southern and AAVE [poUk~poU?] for pork anyway, but do you
get other cases of this?  And does it occur among New England white

Paul Johnston
On Jun 29, 2010, at 10:30 AM, Gordon, Matthew J. wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Gordon, Matthew J." <GordonMJ at MISSOURI.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Hoarse, four, mourning etc.
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> I don't think boar/bore and board/bored are part of this historical
> contrast. Boar, bore and board are listed by Wells (1982) as
> members of the FORCE group, deriving from long open o in Middle
> English. Bored isn't listed there.
> St. Louis traditionally maintains the contrast including between
> 'for' & 'four,' 'morning' & 'mourning,' 'or' & 'ore,' etc. The
> Atlas of North American English has acoustic evidence to illustrate
> the contrast.
> On 6/29/10 8:36 AM, "Geoff Nathan" <geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU> wrote:
> As others have noted, the 'horse:hoarse' contrast has been
> extensively discussed on this list, and in the dialectological
> literature. It is one of a small number of similar examples
> ('boar:bore, board:bored' for example) that continue to contrast in
> parts of the midwest and southern US. A competent discussion can be
> found here
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-
> language_vowel_changes_before_historic_r#Horse-hoarse_merger
> unfortunately there are no sound samples for the contrast. The OED
> says that RP still distinguishes them as a contrast between long
> open-o and open-o schwa. I believe this has disappeared, however.
> The other two (for:four, morning:mourning) are identical in all
> contemporary dialects I'm aware of, and their etymologies suggest
> that they fell together long ago (the former), or were never
> different (the latter, at least from Middle English times). There
> is some dispute about this, however.
> Geoff
> Geoffrey S. Nathan
> Faculty Liaison, C&IT
> and Associate Professor, Linguistics Program
> +1 (313) 577-1259 (C&IT)
> +1 (313) 577-8621 (English/Linguistics)
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