LINGUIST List 9.689

Mon May 11 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Brett Churchill <>


  1. Rashad Ullah, Re: 9.680, Disc:Recent Changes in English
  2. Kevin R. Gregg, Re: 9.680, Disc: Recent changes in English
  3. Marcia Haag, Disc: Recent Change in English

Message 1: Re: 9.680, Disc:Recent Changes in English

Date: Sun, 10 May 1998 21:53:31 -0400
From: Rashad Ullah <>
Subject: Re: 9.680, Disc:Recent Changes in English

Marc Picard wrote:

>Marc Hamann wrote:
>> If I understand correctly, you mean pronouncing "egg" and "beg" as
>> though they were "agg" and "bag". 
>I don't think this is the proper representation of this
>pronunciation. It's more like "ague" and "bague". When I have my
>students transcribe words like these, I always get a few that write
>/e:g/ for /Eg/, and so on. I've never heard Americans do this, and
>I've never been able to figure out exactly where in Canada this
>pronunciation is common.
>Marc Picard

I believe Marie-Lucie Tarpent's observation, which originally fueled Marc
Hamann's response, was:

>>a. at least in Canada, there seems to be a recent tendency to open
>>the vowel in words like medicine, Megan, etc

If it is indeed "opening" of the vowel that is observed, I would assume
Marc Hamann's analysis, of /E/ to /ae/ is appropriate.

However, while I don't know anything about Canadian speech, I can say that
Marc Picard's observation of a raising and lengthening in words such as
"egg" and "beg" is something I have observed. If indeed he is referring to
pronouncing the vowel more as "ay" (in "day") than /E/ in "pet", this is a
phenomenon which I have noticed in the American South, where I lived for
sixteen years. This raising, lengthening, and diphthongization from "eh" to
"ay" seems, at least in the Louisiana area, consistent where there is the
voiced velar final consonant "g", hence "egg", "beg", "leg," all have an
"ay" vowel.

On the fronting of "oo", Marc Hamann had responded:

>I have noticed this as well, but I don't think the phonetic
>description you give is quite right. My analysis is that the change
>is from [uw] to [iw], where "i" here represents a high central or back
>unrounded nucleus. I can see though how this would be perceive as IP
>"y" by a native speaker if French.

I agree with his analysis, that the shift is from [uw] to [iw]. While other
respondants have pointed out the possibility of a California-teen or
"valley-girl" origin, I have noticed this in the speech of Southerners of
all generations.

Other phonological changes, in American English, have been pointed out by
Labov in what I believe has been called a "Northern Cities" shift, a
phenomenon prevalent in urban areas in the north, in which the /a/ of
"stop" shifting toward /ae/ of "cat", the vowel of "caught" opens towards
that of "cot," the "u" of "but" rounds and closes toward the sound of
"bought," and numerous other changes. My limited and informal experience
confirms these changes.

Rashad Ullah
Simon's Rock College
84 Alford Road
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230-1559
(413) 528-7615
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Message 2: Re: 9.680, Disc: Recent changes in English

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 12:34:37 +0900
From: Kevin R. Gregg <>
Subject: Re: 9.680, Disc: Recent changes in English

At 5:01 PM 98.5.9 +0100, LINGUIST Network wrote:
>Date: Sat, 09 May 1998 20:10:18 +1000
>Subject: Disc.: Recent change in English
>One of the most noticeable changes that I have observed in recent
>years, and one which seems to have become quite globalized (from my
>own observations) is the use of 'Enjoy!' in the imperative without an
>object. I have seen this form on bill-boards, heard in it restaurants
>when food is served, and in many other service-oriented situations,
>but I have never come across the 'intransitive' use of ENJOY in any
>other expression (e.g. 'We enjoyed'; 'I am enjoying').
>It would be interesting to find out if any such uses did exist, or if
>other formerly transitive verbs are being used in the same way.

***The globalization may be recent, but the usage itself of 'Enjoy!' as an
imperative has been around in US English for decades at least. I've
always assumed it was of Yiddish influence, since the 
*goyim* never used in when I was a kid.

 On this same topic, I suppose: Is 'hella' used by teenagers
anywhere in the US outside of San Francisco? From 'helluva', of course; as
in 'She's a hella good-looking woman', or 'That was a hella delicious

Kevin R. Gregg
Momoyama Gakuin University
(St. Andrew's University)
1-1 Manabino, Izumi
Osaka 594-1198 Japan 0725-54-3131 (ext. 3622)
fax. 0725-54-3202
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Message 3: Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 09:20:41 -0500 (CDT)
From: Marcia Haag <>
Subject: Disc: Recent Change in English

One of the features of the local dialect that struck me hardest when
I moved to Oklahoma in 1990 was the wholesale replacement of stative
verbs with the progressive -ing form. So we hear: `I'm wanting to
go'; `Are you wanting to be leaving?'; `I'm not understanding that';
`Are you knowing what you're wanting?', and even in a restaurant
recently: `Is your food tasting all right?'

Marcia Haag
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