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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Subject: small difference between phonemes
Question: I wonder whether any fellow panelist could help me track down an article, 40-odd years old now, which refuted the standard idea that small psychological differences between different phonemes don't exist by showing that two phonemes in the dialect of a village in Essex (England) were only marginally distinct for the speakers. Although the data were from England, the article was by Americans – I thought one might have been Labov, another Uriel Weinreich, and there was a third, but searching on this basis hasn't found me the item. Does anyone out there have a clue what I'm thinking of, please?

Geoff Sampson

Reply: You might be thinking of an article by Robert Stockwell and Donka Minkova describing reflexes of ME *ō and *ū as /ū/ and /ʊū/ respectively:

Stockwell, Robert P. & Donka Minkova. 1988. The English Vowel Shift: Problems of coherence and explanation. Luick Revisited, ed. by Dieter Kastovsky & Gero Bauer, 355–394. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

Or maybe it really was Essex. Volume 1 of Labov's <i>Principles of Linguistic Change</i> has a section on the LINE and LOIN classes of words in Essex, describing field work conducted in the early 70s. The relevant section starts at p. 377. (Earlier versions of this may have appeared in Penn working papers or in the Labov, Yaeger, & Steiner report.)
Reply From: Alice Faber      click here to access email
 
Date: 01-Oct-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: small difference between phonemes    James L Fidelholtz     (01-Oct-2013)

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