LINGUIST List 4.949

Fri 12 Nov 1993

Disc: Canadian Raising

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , /ai/-raising
  2. , Regarding "rider" and "writer"

Message 1: /ai/-raising

Date: Wed, 10 Nov 93 09:36:12 ES/ai/-raising
From: <>
Subject: /ai/-raising

In a recent query, I asked whether there are any speakers who have
so-called "Canadian Raising", i.e., a higher vowel in _write_ than
in _ride_, who also have the higher vowel in _writer_, but who have
the LOWER vowel in the second part of _typewriter_. I have received
several replies from people who asserted that no such thing was
possible or at least attested, but logic tells us that no such statement
can be definitive. There is always the possibility that somebody does
have such a pattern. And this morning I received email from John Lawler,
and I have since listened to his speech, and he certainly appears
to have almost exactly this pattern (although he also accepts the
other pronunciation of _typewriter_).

The reason for all this is that the first and in some ways THE
example of rule ordering in phonology was Joos's claim that in
Ontario the flapping rule is ordered differently for different
with respect to the raising rule. However, his speakers at
the time were highschool students, as I recall, and so some
should still be alive and well, yet all studies of Canadian
Raising have failed to find anyone who says _writer_ with
the lower vowel (in particular, the authoritative work of
Chambers). It has thus been a mystery whether Joos could
have been mistaken or else what happened to this dialect.

Now, a careful reading of Joos shows that the only example
he gives with the alleged lower vowel before a flap from /t/
is in fact not _writer_ but _typewriter_. Given that many
speakers who have the raising rules have (hitherto unexplained)
lexical irregularities (e.g., many people have the higher vowel
in _cider_), it occurred to me some time ago that perhaps Joos
did really hear some people say _typewriter_ with the lower
vowel in the second syllable, but that these people did NOT
consistently use the lower vowel before flaps from /t/ and hence
did not say _writer_ that way. Periodically, I ask around for
such speakers, and here at last we have one.

I should add that David Stampe points out that historically
it is probably the case that the rule was one of lowering before
voiced rather raising before voiceless and also that his theory
of fortitions before lenitions seems to predict that the only
possible order would be the normal one (Lowering before Flapping)
which gives us the higher vowel in words like _writer_. Of course,
if there are lexical irregularities, then another way of saying
it is that there is now a phonemic contrast between the two
diphthongs and their distribution is no longer (fully) rule-governed
at all.

All of which brings up a number of interesting issues about the
relation of theory and data, such as whether it was ever reasonable for
to put so much credence in Joos' poorly documented example without anybody
for many many years ever trying to replicate his findings.
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Message 2: Regarding "rider" and "writer"

Date: 10 Nov 93 10:26:00 -0500
From: <>
Subject: Regarding "rider" and "writer"

The phonetic difference between "rider" and "writer" is not a matter of
vowel height (at least not in my idiolect!).

North American English (non-phonemically) lengthens all vowels and
diphthongs in stressed monosyllables ending in a voiced consonant or
cluster or in zero, as in:
- said
- in vogue
- bad
- ride
It shortens all vowels and diphthongs in stressed monosyllables ending
in a voiceless consonant or cluster, as in:
- set
- invoke
- bat
- write

When such words take on endings, the vowel/diphthong length is felt by
some speakers to be phonemically differentiating where /t/ becomes
voiced /d/ intervocalically, as in "rider" (long) versus "writer"
(short), or "siding" versus "sighting". The presence of the
monosyllabic word makes this distinction possible; the word "little"
does not contrast with "Liddel" (stressed on the first syllable by the
family bearing the name) because there are no corresponding monosyllabic
forms *litt or *lidd, nor does "liter" normally contrast with "leader".

--David N. WIGTIL. ER Network Support. U. S. Department of Energy.
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