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Re: more English orthography

From:Roger Mills <romilly@...>
Date:Tuesday, May 16, 2000, 21:46
Steg Belsky wrote:
>In my pronounciation (NYC) "merry, marry, Mary" are pronounced >approximately as /mEri/, /m&ri/, /me@ri/. My American English problem >with IPA is that my linguistics teacher and books always talked about the >phoneme /A/ (back low unrounded), which doesn't exist in my dialect. I >use /a/.>
A good example of how some of the matters we've been discussing vary not only by general _dialect areas_ but even, within those, _individually_. I have no /A/; I have /a/. But "merry, marry, Mary" are all the same-- /'meri/ with the _e_ midway between [e] and [E]; and I ain't no Noo Yorker. Similar neutralization before /r/ seems to be characteristic of most General Midwestern speech, maybe all American except Southern(?). Sear/sere-- neither [i] nor [I], more neither [o] nor [O]-- the IPA I learned represented this vowel as "backward c with a heavy dot on the upper left end". In the olden days, when Phonemics ruled, it was always a problem how to represent these, since Neutralization was a no-no. /siyr/ or /sir/? /mowr/ or /mor/? (The latter, arbitrarily-- to be distinguised from /siy@r/ 'seer' and /mow@r/ 'mower', which of course are derivatives anyway. Actually, since you used /sir/ for 'sere', you could use /siyr/ for 'seer'-- the /r/ in that case being syllabic by definition or position. But........) I also distinguish cot [cat] and caught [cOt] etc. Lots of people (Californians in particular) do not. Occasionally I do have/A/ in just two words: water, and rather. _Water_ was changed because my Midwestern (probably nasalized, too) ['wa:t@r] was just too much for my (upper class, Eastern) boarding-school-mates and was the object of much derision (along with my general 14-year-old nerdiness). _Rather_ seems to have (been?) changed as a general result of 12 years residence in Eastern US/Boston/New York, plus a certain tinge of Anglophilia, and a desire not to be hopelessly marked as a Middle Westerner. 30 years in Michigan have eroded a lot of that. Upshot of all this: Orthographic reform? "Lasciate ogni speranza.......