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Re: OT: YAEPT: English low vowels (was briefly: Re: Y/N variants (< OT: English a...

From:T. A. McLeay <conlang@...>
Date:Thursday, December 13, 2007, 23:59
Gary Shannon wrote:
> --- "T. A. McLeay" <conlang@...> wrote: > >> Gary Shannon wrote: > <Snip> > >>> I'm a native born American and I can't recall ever hearing anybody merge >>> PALM/LOT. Both PALM/LOT and LOT/THOUGHT mergers would just sound weird to >> my >>> Amuriken ears. PALM/THOUGHT on the other hand share the same vowel sound. >> Really? The vowel referred to by the PALM lexical set is also the vowel >> in fAther. > > That's odd. In my brand of English (born in W. Mich, raised in S. CA) PALM > shares a vowel sound with AWful and CALL, certainly not with fAther.
J. C. Wells, who created the lexical sets, is an authority on English pronunciation in England, but not infallible when it comes to American English. There is probably no single-syllable word that works for everyone, so I suppose "palm" (or a similar word like "alm" or "calm") could be considered the best of a bad bunch. ...
>> I don't mean to second-guess you, it's just that it would be very >> strange if [A] PALM merged with [O] THOUGHT but not with [Q] LOT >> considering that length is non-phonemic in American English. > > If by "length" you mean duration, here's a counter example: Here in rural > Oregon the only difference in pronunciation between "pantry" and "pine tree" is > that the 'a' vowel in "pantry" is somewhat more prolonged when "pine tree" is > meant. Other than duration, the two have identical pronunciation; "pantry" and > "paaantry".
"Length" is the technical term for the concept; "duration" is somewhat misleading as it's relative durations that combine to equal length. Also, physical durations will indeed vary between vowels in all languages which don't contrast length (and most which do) based on, for instance, vowel height. (One interesting and underrated difference between Australian English and RP is in fact the way height correlates with length.) But --- That is interesting; I had not heard of it before. And: This is obviously a more recent development than the loss of length in PALM or THOUGHT, and so wouldn't make a merger (unrelated to other phenomena) between the two less surprising. -- Tristan.