[Ads-l] Melk and Milk?

Buller, Lisa M lbuller at BSU.EDU
Sat Sep 15 14:41:52 UTC 2018

I've seen a couple of archived threads about this topic.  I have a couple of friends who say "melk" with a vowel that sounds like or close to /ɛ/, instead of "milk," with the vowel sounding like /ɪ/.  My friends are men in their low 30s, and are from Midwest, Northish Central Indiana, and have lived there most of their lives.  A professor of mine said she has brothers who grew up in Connecticut who also say "melk", but neither of us says it this way.  The archived thread also mentioned people saying "pellow" (like mellow) instead of "pillow", which I have heard before, but I did not note who said it.

I'd like to conduct a quick informal survey, and see if anyone else has noticed themselves or others who do this, and what area you are from.

It seems like this might be related to, but not quite the same as, the Northern Cities Vowel Shift., since that shift is lowering and backing of the /ɪ/,  so that it is more central, like /ə/, not /ɛ/.  The shift to /ɛ/ also (at least anecdotally) does not seem to be just in Midwest speakers.

Lisa Buller

M.A. Student, TESOL/Linguistics, Ball State University

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list