LINGUIST List 16.858

Mon Mar 21 2005

Sum: Australian [ae]-lengthening

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        1.    Tonio Green, Australian [ae]-lengthening

Message 1: Australian [ae]-lengthening

Date: 21-Mar-2005
From: Tonio Green <>
Subject: Australian [ae]-lengthening

Regarding query:

Dear all,

I got a lot of responses to my question about [ae] lengthening in Australian
English and am pleased to report that yes, it's a real phenomenon. Almost
everyone agreed that at least some Australians (many said *all* Australians)
have different vowel lengths in pairs like can/can and lad/bad. Some people
confirmed that this is partly true for some speakers of RP as well (no
difference in can/can, but in lad/bad and some other pairs).

One Australian respondent gave "cans"/"Cairns" as a minimal pair, though, making
me wonder whether /ae/ has really split into two phonemes, or whether some /ae/
words have simply gone over to what Wells calls the SQUARE vowel. In other
words, if you have a longer vowel in "bad" than in "lad", is "bad" still
distinct from "Baird"?

(I have been told by New York City speakers that their tensed /ae/ is not
distinct from their SQUARE vowel if they're being nonrhotic, so that "pass"
rhymes with "scarce", but I don't think there's a real phonemic merger, because
NYC speakers have a tendency to suppress nonrhoticity in careful speech, but do
not (as far as I know) hypercorrect tense /ae/ to /er/ in words like "pass".)

As for literature, I was pointed to:

- Burridge, Kate. 1998. English in Australia and New Zealand. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

- Leitner, Gerhard. 2004. Australia's Many Voices. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

as well as an unpublished paper by Erich Round comparing Australian [ae]
lengthening with Mid-Atlantic [ae] tensing

Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond and to share their insights with
me, namely:

Louise Baird
Chris Cleirigh
Sarah Cutfield
David Deterding
Mark Donohue
Evan Kidd
Gerhard Leitner
Duncan Markham
Andrew McIntyre
Bill Palmer
Erich Round
Moira Yip
Ghil'ad Zuckermann

Thanks everyone!
-- Tonio Green

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): English (ENG)
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