LINGUIST List 9.691

Mon May 11 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <martylinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Johanna Rubba, Re: 9.680, Disc: Recent changes in English
  2. Peggy Speas, Re: 9.683, Disc: Recent Change in English
  3. Megan Elizabeth Melancon, Recent changes in English

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

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 17:49:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: Johanna Rubba <jrubbapolymail.cpunix.calpoly.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.680, Disc: Recent changes in English


Re the fronted vowels, and 'ague and bague', both are common in the
dialect area in which I grew up, namely Southern New Jersey (which
also does 'Canadian' raising, but only of /ai/, not /au/, and only
before voiceless stops, except for 'spider'). I myself practiced the
very front <oo> in words like 'moon', 'food', and my sisters still do
(they still live there). As to 'ague' for 'egg' and 'bague' for 'bag',
they were considered substandard in my community and would be made fun
of. I believe they were associated with uneducated rural
speech. (though the whole area is, at best, suburban. Nearest urban
areas are Phila., Wilmington DE and Baltimore). I now hear the fronted
<oo> among my California-born and -bred students very frequently.

It certainly does seem that /E/ is opening up to something closer to
ash out here in CA. In fact, I believe there is a general shift going
on involving lowering of /I/ > [E] and /E/ > [ae]; monophthongization
of /ei/ and, very slightly, /ai/. /I/ raises to [i] and /ae/ to [E] or
[e] in front of the velar nasal, so that 'pink' is 'peenk' and 'bank'
is 'baynk'. I've been wondering if anyone is undergoing a serious
study of the whole SoCal vowel system. It would be very interesting!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Johanna Rubba	Assistant Professor, Linguistics ~
English Department, California Polytechnic State University ~
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 ~
Tel. (805)-756-2184 E-mail: jrubbapolymail.calpoly.edu ~ 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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Message 2: Re: 9.683, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 11:06:01 -0400
From: Peggy Speas <pspeaslinguist.umass.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.683, Disc: Recent Change in English

I think that the individual sound changes that many people have
noticed in "California teen" English fall into a regular pattern of
"midding", where back vowels are fronted, front vowels are backed,
high vowels are lowered and low vowels are raised. (I'm not a
phonologist - maybe there's a technical term for this...)

So, 
'peace' is pronounced with a slightly lowered and backed i
'pet' has a backed E (sound a bit like 'pat', but not quite)
'man' has a slightly raised ae 
'boat' has a slightly fronted (and maybe raised) o
'but' has sort of like a schwa - slightly fronted
'cool' has a lowered and maybe fronted u - sounds like the word
	'cull'
'father' kind of but not quite rhymes with 'lather'

I did a bit of field work on this by using the film 'Bill and Ted's
Excellent Adventure', from the early 1980s, I believe. Don't know if
anything scholarly has been written about it.

I've noticed something that is either a syntactic change or else I
happen never to have noticed its widespread use until about 5 years
ago: where I would say (a) or (a'), I hear others say (b):

(a) [What the problem is t ]is that no one can meet after 6 pm
(a') [The problem] is that no one can meet after 6 pm.
(b) The problem is is that no one can meet after 6 pm.

Now that I've noticed this, I notice it all over the place. Don't
know if its regional (I'm now in Massachusetts, but grew up in
Maryland).

Peggy Speas
University of Massachusetts 
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Message 3: Recent changes in English

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 11:49:12 -0500 (CDT)
From: Megan Elizabeth Melancon <mmelan2tiger.lsuiss.ocs.lsu.edu>
Subject: Recent changes in English

lexesmindspring.com (no name was provided, sorry!) writes on the
'rapid decline in the use of the indefinite article 'an' among
educated native speakers of North American English'. I myself commit
this sin occasionally (reckon is it cardinal or venial?). On the
other side of the coin, I find the usage of 'an historical event' to
be an horrible thing.

Megan Melancon
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