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

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Nov 19 12:48:09 UTC 2012

I'm reminded of the "knock-knock" joke that culminates in the punch line "Aren't you glad I didn't say 'orange'?"


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Laurence Horn [laurence.horn at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2012 11:17 AM


On Nov 17, 2012, at 6:38 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:

> On Sat, Nov 17, 2012 at 1:36 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> On Nov 16, 2012, at 6:24 PM, Neal Whitman wrote:
>>> I'm sure this has been analyzed somewhere at some point, but I don't know where.
>>> What is the dialect that has /O/ lowering to [a] in a stressed vowel preceding
>>> /r/ and an unstressed vowel? In other words, the dialect that pronounces
>>> "forest" as "farrest," "Florida" as "Flarrida", "Oregon" as "Ahregun,"
>>> "horrible" etc. as "harrible" etc., "authority" as "autharity", but still has
>>> [O] in "fort", "lore," etc.? What is this realization called?
>> It's what I grew up with in NYC, although I've shifted over to [O] most of the time for
>> these; I suspect I go back and forth (on "Florida", "orange", "forest") even though I
>> think of myself as an open-o employer for these (the first group, that is; I've never
>> varied on [O] for "fort" or "lore").  I think of "AH-rinj" as the locus classicus, but as I
>> recall it was getting mocked for my [a] in "corridor" as a freshman in Rochester that
>> led to my abandoning my native vowels in this frame.  I'm sure I never say "flarrist",
>> but I probably did before the fall of 1961.
> Along with NYC, the use of unrounded [A] for the "tomorrow"/"orange"
> class typifies Philadelphia and the Carolinas:
...and as that write-up notes, "lexical diffusion" is certainly involved here; typically, whatever the shibboleths are may be under the most pressure to change, which is why I switched on "corridor" and "moral" earlier--and more consistently than--"Florida" or "florist".  YMMV.  Still, it would be nice to have a catchier label.  "East Coast Ah-rinj"?  Naaah.


> I don't think this has a shorthand label in the phonological
> literature, though I'm sure Mr. Gordon or one of the other
> variationists on the list can correct me if I'm wrong.
> --bgz
> --
> Ben Zimmer

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