Provenance of /Or/ > [ar] / __@ ?

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Nov 17 21:32:03 UTC 2012

On Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 3:02 PM, Paul Johnston wrote:
> I'm not sure what my original pattern was, though my parents (NYC born) had [a]
> in nearly all or all words in this set intervocalically.  I, however, have [O] in them all,
> despite living a good deal of my childhood in the NY/NJ suburbs.  I could have
> picked it up in Chicago, where I lived from 6-14.  However, my high school years
> were in Morristown, in Morris County, NJ, not far from the Oranges, and my
> birthplace was a stone's throw from Florida,NY (not the state)in Orange County, so
> there's plenty of words there in the classthat would come up all the time.  My
> memory may be playing tricks on me but my impression was that local Morristonians
> had [O] like me, but the incomers from NY and farther toward the Hudson had [a]
> (in my day, distributing very much like rhoticity).  Monroe, NY was also in the [a] area.
> But if Philadelphia also has [a], shouldn't all New Jersey have it too?

Nope. Consider another dialectal discontinuity -- the "short-a split,"
found in NYC and Philly, but not in the band of central NJ falling
between those two cities' orbits of influence.

I grew up in that central region (near Flemington in Hunterdon
County), and I don't recall locals using the AH-rinj pattern either.


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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