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Ask a linguist - Message details

Subject: Warshington
From: Jeff Stauter

Why do I say ''Warshington'' DC instead of ''Washington'' DC?

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----------------- Message requiring your approval (37 lines) ------------------

Answering this requires going into some detail about how we
produce different sounds, using the organs of our mouths and
throats. By the way, in the following I'll be distinguishing
between letters of the alphabet and speech sounds. Letters will
be enclosed in angle brackets <>, and speech sounds in slashes //.
This is important because letters and sounds are very different

The r-coloring that you hear, and write as an , is really a
side-effect of how you produce the vowel sound in the first
syllable of Washington. The vowel itself is what we call a low
back vowel. That is, it's pronounced with the tongue positioned
as low and as far back as it can go and still allow air to pass
freely up and over it. People who have the r-colored sound for
the in Washington pull their tongues back just a little
farther, and this is what produces the r-like quality of the
vowel. It's not that you're putting in an /r/ that's not there;
rather you're forming the vowel so that it sounds like there's an
/r/ there as well. If you listen carefully to speakers from other
parts of the country, you'll here a good variety of different
vowel sounds for that syllable.

Herb Stahlke

Herbert F. W. Stahlke, Ph.D.
Professor of English
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

>>> ask-ling@linguistlist.org 03/13/01 10:32PM >>>

From: Jeff Stauter

Why do I say "Warshington" DC instead of "Washington" DC?

Reply From: Herb Stahlke     click here to access email
Date: Mar-14-2001
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Warshington John Lawler    (Mar-14-2001)
  2. RE: Warshington Mills, Carl (MILLSCR)    (Mar-14-2001)
  3. Re: Warshington Joseph F Foster    (Mar-14-2001)
  4. Re: Warshington charlie rowe    (Mar-13-2001)

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