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USAGE: [e] vs. [E]

From:Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 14, 2004, 16:13
Okay, this is my last post of the day, so it will have to be my last
word on this subject for now.  This is turning into YAEPT (so many
threads seem to do that, kind of like all relay texts converge on
creation myths. . .)

>Hm? The sound I'd render in English as "eh" is X-SAMPA [E] (though it >can be [e] in SAMPA-for-English IIRC).
Okay, first of all, I think of the spelling "eh" as representing [E], which is the vowel I have in "bet", "let", etc. This is distinct from the first part of the diphthong I have in "bait", "late", etc, which is the tenser [e]. There is an exception in the specific context of transcriptions of stereotypical Canadian speech, where the spelling "eh" represents [ej], as in "Take off, eh?" This spelling is counterintuitive to me but I have learned to interpret it, just as I now know to interpret "er" in written British dialect as [@] instead of [r\=] (Andy Capp used to sound very odd in my head. . .) When I learned Spanish, I was taught that |e| represented [e], which is a sound that doesn't exist on its own in my 'lect of English. It is, as I said, the first part of my "long a" diphthong, but cut off before the glide. (I have since noticed that there are environments in which Spanish /e/ is realized as the allophone [E], but that is not the usual pronunciation.) When I learned Esperanto, I was taught that |e| represented [E]. That is, my "short e", which I believe is also the sound spelled as |è| (e with grave) in standard French and Italian. Using this vowel in tonic open syllables has always been difficult for me, and indeed in my experience other Esperanto speakers replace it with [e] in such contexts: |ne| = [ne] and |araneo| = [a.ra'ne.o], beside |nek| = [nEk] and |panelo| = [pa'nE.lo]. -Marcos