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Re: Shavian rhotics (was: Optimum number of symbols)

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, May 26, 2002, 19:00
At 3:06 pm -0500 25/5/02, Thomas R. Wier wrote:
> >Although, if you think about it, most of the minimal pairs for >/hw/ : /w/ are actually quite functionally distinct from one >another, and so it's be no wonder that the distinction is >lost in a great many dialects. Just consider: "whale : wail"
When we lived in south Wales, every so often we'd find get letter or postcard where the address ended: WHALES :) [snip]
>pronoun and a noun), "whether : weather" (a subordinating >conjunction and a noun), etc. All of these words have quite >different distributions in the syntax.
Don't forget the other noun _wether_ (castrated ram). I remember a few years back we had renamed the hard disk icon on a Mac "nice wether for ewe" and some mocked us for not spelling 'weather' correctly (she didn't mention the strange spelling of 'ewe'). But, apart from that, it's difficult to imagine a context in which the two nouns will get confused. --------------------------------------------------------------- At 9:53 pm +0100 25/5/02, And Rosta wrote:
>I had made myself swear to myself I wouldn't get involved in these >English accents threads any more! But maybe one brief lapse won't >hurt, says the addict.
I know the feeling - I often say the same to myself as they tend to get a bit tedious and often end up with what happens in different dialects of the US.
>Rhoticity is very recessive in the north of England, and actual >phonetic rhoticity (i.e. with /r/ realized by a rhotic rather than >by a schwa) even more recessive.
Thanks - that I was not sure about.
>In terms of sheer weight of numbers >of speakers, there is an enormous majority of nonrhotic speakers in >Britain.
Tho rhoticity is still strong in Scotland & Wales. But I guess And is right, because about a quarter of the population of Britain seems to want to crowd into the south-east of England - and that is almost entirely non-rhotic. [snip]
>so-called 'Cockney rhyme'. And lastly, if one hears old recordings >of nonrhotic people reciting poetry or dramatic verse or very literary >prose, there is a tendency for them (a) to restore nonprevocalic >/r/, and (b) to tap /r/.
I'm sure you're right. Tho I don't hear the latter longer, the use of r-colored or retroflex vowels by normally non-rhotic speakers when they are reciting poetry or reading in church or reading literary prose is one I still encounter here in leafy Surrey. But next weekend I shall be in the Cotswolds where rhoticity still holds sway in colloquial speech :) Ray. ======================================================= Speech is _poiesis_ and human linguistic articulation is centrally creative. GEORGE STEINER. =======================================================