LINGUIST List 9.727

Sat May 16 1998

Disc: Recent changes in English

Editor for this issue: Brett Churchill <brettlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Magda Ciesla, Re:9.680, Disc: Recent changes in English
  2. Peter T. Daniels, Re: 9.720, Disc: Recent Change in English
  3. Rick Mc Callister, Re: 9.720, Disc: Recent Change in English
  4. Waruno Mahdi, Disc: 9.682, Recent Change in English
  5. bwald, Re: 9.701, Disc: Recent Change in English

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

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 07:29:59 -0700
From: Magda Ciesla <us949victoria.tc.ca>
Subject: Re:9.680, Disc: Recent changes in English

In reference to the many comments on the pronunciation of "egg", etc.:

The dialect spoken on the Chesapeake peninsula (Maryland/Virginia) seems
worth considering in this context: I have met speakers there who use some
vowels that are monophthongs in standard English as triphthongs of sorts
(and others as diphthongs, similar to other dialects). Examples:
(1) /e/: "bed" or "bad" - /beye:d/ or /beye:d/
(2) "dog" - /doug~/ (the "~" denotes a clearly audible shwa here)

Since I haven't heard this for a while perhaps someone else would correct
or supplement my scant data here...? (perhaps Keith Goeringer?)

Magda
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Message 2: Re: 9.720, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 19:23:54 -0400
From: Peter T. Daniels <grammatimworldnet.att.net>
Subject: Re: 9.720, Disc: Recent Change in English

Marc Picard asked:

> Now who
> can tell me how long the following exchange has been going on:
> 
> A: Hey, how are you today?
> B: I'm good. How are you?

One of the regular language commentators on Leonard Lopate's WNYC talk
show (I think Richard Lederer) said not long ago that if you're over 34
you say well, under 35 you say good. Ballpark? Exact? Nonsense?

***

On NBC's hit sitcom *Working* this week, a character took a vacation in
Canada and came back saying "aboot"--and "b[y]k"! Meaning that prevelar
Canadian fronting, recently mentioned in this thread, has entered L.A.
folklore!!
- 
Peter T. Daniels					grammatimworldnet.att.net
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Message 3: Re: 9.720, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 19:14:35 -0500
From: Rick Mc Callister <rmccalliMUW.Edu>
Subject: Re: 9.720, Disc: Recent Change in English

Marc:
	I've been hearing it all my life since my family is from
Appalachia. It's been around as a non-standard form probably dozens, if not
hundreds of years back. But, as far as I remember, it's only been in the 10
or 15 years that "educated" people have been using it. It's definitely a
"gen X" tag

>Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 21:03:15 -0400
>From: MARC PICARD <picardvax2.concordia.ca>
>Subject: Re: 9.701, Disc: Recent Change in English
>
Now who
>can tell me how long the following exchange has been going on:
>
>A: Hey, how are you today?
>B: I'm good. How are you?
>
>Marc Picard
>
>

Rick Mc Callister
W-1634
MUW
Columbus MS 39701
rmccallisunmuw1.muw.edu
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Message 4: Disc: 9.682, Recent Change in English

Date: Sat, 16 May 1998 20:25:59 +0200
From: Waruno Mahdi <mahdiFHI-Berlin.MPG.DE>
Subject: Disc: 9.682, Recent Change in English

I have received several direct responses to my previous input in this
discussion (Re 9.682#1), for which I want to say thank you.

many have indicated to me that the city name _Albuquerque_ is not
of French, but of Spanish origin, which I knew of course. To avoid
misunderstanding: I was refering to the "French" (in quotes, because it
isn't really French) former pronunciation as [0lbukRk] (transcription
here and further as in Re 9.682#1).
For a more "Spanish"-inspired one, I would have expected something like
[0lbukeRke] I think. A thank you to Vctor Vzquez Martnez
<IBM10254globalnet.es> who provided the additional info that the
city was named after....

> its founder, viceroy Francisco Fernandez de la Cueva, Duke of Alburquerque
> (original spelling). Alburquerque is a city in Badajoz, Spain.

indicating that one _r_ got lost somewhere along the way (but not
so recently).

Some younger responders expressed their doubts as to whether the following
"old" pronunciations had ever really existed:
 [0lbukeRk] (instead of [&lbukRki]) for _Albuquerque_
 [YlYnwa] (instead of [YlYn9y(s)]) for _Illinois_
 [yosmayt] (instead of [yosEmYti]) for _Yosemite_
and that got me to start doubting myself. Can anyone among the "older"
fellow LINGUIST-Listers confirm either existence or non-existence of
the "old" pronunciations before say mid 1950-s?
Antony (Tonio) Dubach Green <greenzas.gwz-berlin.de> pointed out to me
that the presently standard pronunciation of the latter was [YlYn9y],
and not [YlYn9ys] (or [YlYn9yz]). Thanks Tonio, who also noted the
loss of _r_ in _Albuquerque, and that [ayrini] reflected trisyllabic
pronunciation of the Greek original (see below).

Irene A Gates <70732.244compuserve.com> has shown to me that I was
mistaken about [ayrini] being a novel American pronunciation of the
name _Irene_. This pronunciation seems to have been the originally
"received" pronunciation in Britain, reflecting the trisyllabic
pronunciation of the Greek original, and that it still persisted
as prevailing pronunciation at least in the Midlands in the 1950s.
The pronunciation [ayri:n] (which I had assumed to be the original
Anglosaxon one), seems to have been originally the American one
(US + Canada), having presently also just about completely displaced
[ayrini] in Britain. I guess my earlier mistaken assumption was
caused by the folk song, in which the refrain goes "Irene, good night,
Irene ... etc., I'll see you in my dreams" which already my parents sang
in leisurely company of friends, and we kids sang in the car to pass the
time on lengthier drives through the countryside (it was
[ayri:n gUdnayt ayri:n....]).

That all goes to show, how unreliable observations "from a distance"
can be....

Regards to all, Waruno

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Waruno Mahdi tel: +49 30 8413-5404
Faradayweg 4-6 fax: +49 30 8413-3155
14195 Berlin email: mahdifhi-berlin.mpg.de
Germany WWW: http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/~wm/
- ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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Message 5: Re: 9.701, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 23:57:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: bwald <bwaldHUMnet.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 9.701, Disc: Recent Change in English

Lance Nathan makes some interesting observations in the passage:

"The poor cat. I don't know who she'll jump on and purr after I
leave." It took a few moments after saying it before I realized that
"who she'll jump on and purr" was probably "ungrammatical," since
"purr" isn't transitive, but at the time it sounded natural, nor did
my host bat an eye at it. Now I'm not sure if this is a trend in
language, a trend in my speech that I've never noticed before, or just
a single lapse.

The analysis is not quite right. What is disturbing (if anything) about
"and purr" is that it represents a clause which does not have "who" is an
antecedent, not simply that it's not transitive. The strategy itself is
transparent enough. It is to take the TWO clauses "she'll jump (on them)
and purr" as a UNIT. As a unit, they are constitute the relative clause
together. My guess would be that this is not a "syntactic change" sweeping
English (or some variety of it), but a grammatical strategy which might be
perceived as relatively unusual simply because single clause restrictive
relative clauses are much more frequent, since a single clause is most
often sufficient to characterise the antecedent . In that case, the oddity
felt is not a matter of "grammaticality" but of pragmatics. A test might
be made by comparing "who she'll jump on and purr" with "who she'll purr
and jump on". Personally, I prefer the latter where the referent to the
antecedent (understood as object of "on") comes at in the final clause
(independent of the change in meaning, of course). However, this could be
a processing matter. I prefer the strategy in which any number of clauses
can constitute a relative clause, but that the clause chain *ends* when the
*last clause which has a reference to the antecedent* is reached. (Hence,
no problem with "...who she'll jump on, purr and then scratch", but perhaps
some readers bridle at the "and purr" even so; they seem to want all
clauses to have a referent for the antecedent.)

Leaving the issue of pragmatics vs. grammar moot, I don't think any kind of
change is reflected in the problem construction. It remains a matter of
individual choice in applying the option, and people will apply it when
they feel the entire clause chain is called for as a relative clause, even
though the last clause does not contain a referent for the antecedent. The
option is so automatic when the clause chain functions as a unit that the
reactions are as Lance described, and we are fortunate, in the absence of
recorded speech data, that he was able to recognise what he had done -- uh,
said.

Some simpler matters, Jakob Dempsey writes:

I also add a palatal off-glide in trash' and 'cash', but not in
'cache' which I learned as an adult. Anybody else do this?
I also add a palatal off-glide in trash' and 'cash', but not in
'cache' which I learned as an adult. Anybody else do this?

I make a distinction between "cash" and "cache" for the same reason, but it
is a different distinction. In most NYC varieties common words like "cash"
tend to have a very tense front vowel, at the level of /ey/ as in "day" or
even higher. However, the phoneme represented by "cash" also has a low
front variant, always before a voiceless stop, e.g., as in "cat", and the
raising often does not apply to words learned later in life, like "cache".
Conceivably "cash" could also the pronounced with a low front vowel, but I
almost never do that, nor do most NYers in their more spontaneous speech.
Jacob is referring to a dialect with a different kind of tensing, the
development of a palatal glide, specific to pre-palatal consonant position.
The dialects I am familiar with like that do not have that palatal glide
before most other consonants, e.g., in "cat". Evidently words learned
later in life escape the formation of the palatal glide in some (maybe
most?) of those dialects too. It is interesting that the appearance of a
classical (biunique) phonemic distinction (cash vs. cache) arise from
inhibiting a sound change which conditions the phonetic realisation of a
single phoneme with a phonetic range wide enough to encompass clearly
perceptually distinct pronunciations. It is NOT a *random* lexical
diffusion of a sound change, but demonstrates a principle upon which some
words are able to escape sound changes

Jacob continues:

On the theory side: This 'leg'/'egg' raising, plus the historical
development of words such as 'day', make me wonder if "non-palatal" is
a good characterisation of velarity in consonants

I think the point is that tensing of vowels occurs before both palatal and
velar consonants, as if they were a "natural class" (vs. apicals and
labials). I'm not sure if Jacob means to acknowledge that the tensing
before palatals and before velars occur independently and in different but
partially overlapping sets of dialects. (They are both broadly "Southern",
but extend differentially into Midwestern and Western dialects, as well as
in various Southern dialects). Overlap is in dialects where, for example,
"measure" etc has the same vowel as "major", and "beize", and "leg"etc
rhymes with "plague".
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