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Subject: Technical Term for a Change of Vowel Sound?
Question: I'm having a hard time identifying the technical term for the change to
the sounding of the ''e'' vowel in the English definite article ''the'' when
the next word begins with a vowel.

When the next word begins with a consonant, people in my area
typically sound the definite article as ''thuh.'' When the next word
begins with a vowel, they typically sound it as ''thee.''

Thuh book
Thee essay
Thuh camel
Thee aardvark

In linguistics, what is the technical term for that change?

Thank you,
Paul Schlicher
Yardley, Pennsylvania, USA

Reply: One could also say that for the case in which the definite article
is followed by a word initial vowel, the allomorph has a tensed
vowel. For the case in which it is followed by a word initial
consonant, the allomorph is unstressed and has an unstressed
vowel. Note, too, that the allomorphy is based not on spelling but
on sound, e.g,. the (tensed) hour; the (unstressed) one.
Reply From: Marilyn N Silva      click here to access email
 
Date: 15-Dec-2012
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Technical Term for a Change of Vowel Sound?    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (17-Dec-2012)
  2. Re: Technical Term for a Change of Vowel Sound?    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (16-Dec-2012)
  3. Re: Technical Term for a Change of Vowel Sound?    John M. Lawler     (15-Dec-2012)

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