Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

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)

Back to Most Recent Questions