LINGUIST List 13.2077

Tue Aug 13 2002

Disc: Tense and Lax i

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Karen S. Chung, Re: 13.2076, Disc: New: Re Sum: Tense and Lax i

Message 1: Re: 13.2076, Disc: New: Re Sum: Tense and Lax i

Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2002 15:20:24 +0800
From: Karen S. Chung <>
Subject: Re: 13.2076, Disc: New: Re Sum: Tense and Lax i

Re Linguist 13.2076

 Regarding the /i/ vs. /I/ discussion, it seems that there is some
confusion over whether we are talking about *phonemes* or
*allophones*. The 'i' in '-ing' as in 'going' definitely belongs to
the /I/ *phoneme* (thus the arguments about 'rhyme'), but it also
definitely has a *raised allophone* before /N/ and /g/ in both
standard US and standard British pronunciation. It is not quite up to
/i/, but it sounds closer to /i/ than to /I/ in American. There may
perhaps be somewhat less of a contrast in British English since the RP
[I] is a bit higher than in standard American, and it has no schwa
offglide, as in US English.

 And it is part of a larger pattern. /ae/ and /E/ are also both
raised before the voiced velar consonants, /N/ and /g/, though the
raising seems most pronounced before /N/. Compare _pick_ with _pig_
and _ping_; _back_ with _bag_ and _bang_; and _peck_ with _peg_ and
_strength_. I have a Web page on this for my phonetics classes at:

 with more examples and sound files.

 I imagine that Carol Tenny was noticing a *lack* of this
(expected, standard) allophonic raising in her students, which may be
a recent trend in some varieties of US English. Actually I heard it
occasionally even decades ago in Minnesota, and at the time, it
sounded either dialectical or rustic to my then young ears.

 Karen Steffen Chung
 National Taiwan University

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