Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

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Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby fənɑlədʒɪst » Sat Aug 07, 2010 5:35 pm UTC

Ok, since I lost my last post... let's try this again. This post is going to be significantly shorter because I'm far too lazy to recreate the last one.

So, I love phonetics and dialectology. I'm really surprised that there doesn't yet appear to be a thread where people discuss their regional dialects or particular idiolects, considering how many linguistics nerds there are here. I thought I'd share a bit about the Southern US dialect here in Georgia, although I speak much closer to SAE as my parents are from the North. So, here are some interesting bits about the local variety of English:

Pen pin merger - I'm sure you've all heard about this one, and it still makes me laugh when people become angry with Southerners because of this :D For those of you who don't know, the vowels /ɛ ɪ/ aren't very distinct in most parts of the South. In a few environments (such as preceding a nasal consonant), /ɛ/ often merges to /ɪ/ so that pen and pin are homophonous as [pɪn]. Similarly, "gem" is homophonous to "Jim" as [dʒɪm]. The same is true for "any" as it is pronounced [ɪni] rather than [ɛni]. In my experiences, most of my acquaintances who speak Southern English can't even perceive the difference between [dʒɪm] and [dʒɛm], which I find fascinating. Although I can hear the difference just fine, my spoken English uses the /ɪ/ forms exclusively, unless I'm speaking to someone who is bothered by it :P

Crazy /æ/ - Many rural speakers here pronounce /æ/ as something similar to /æjə/ so that "cat" becomes [kæjət]. My speech doesn't contain this feature, maybe because my parents would have killed me if I had started talking like this as a child :(

Glottal stops - I've been told this isn't just a Southern thing, but I feel that Southern speakers do this more than speakers from other regions. Rather than just using an allophonic glottal stop in place of a /t/ for words like "button" [bʌʔn] (syllabic n), it shows up in other places like "mountain" [mɑʊnʔn] (second /n/ being syllabic) or "hadn't" [hæʔnt] (glottal stop replaces /d/, syllabic n, and unreleased /t/). I think there's always an /n/ involved that becomes syllabic due to the elision of a vowel.

Especially - Quite a few speakers here say [ɛkˈspɛʃəli] rather than [əˈspɛʃəli], [ɪˈspɛʃəli], or [ɛˈspɛʃəli]. I have no idea where it comes from, honestly, other than maybe it was influenced by the pronunciation of "espresso" as "expresso." I personally say [əˈspɛʃəli], but [ɛˈspɛʃəli] sounds fine to me too. The other two pronunciations strike me as odd.

Etcetera - "Standard" American pronunciation is supposedly [ɛt sɛɾɚə], but many speakers here say [ɛk sɛɾɚə], reminiscent of the "ekspecially" pronunciation above.

Clothes - Clothes and close are homophonous as [kloʊz], because honestly, it's so much easier to say :P I think this is an American English thing, but there are a good number of American speakers who retain the [kloʊðz] pronunciation, and they mock us at every turn.

Sequentially - According to dictionaries, the "standard" pronunciation for this word should be [sɪkwɛnʃəli], but many speakers I've encountered say [sɪŋkwɛn̠ʧəli]. Why? Nasal epenthesis?

Immediately - This one is quite interesting, but it's pretty rare. Rather than [ɪmiɾiətli], some people here say [ɪmiɾiəntli], with a nasal consonant preceding the coronal stop. Why? Another case of nasal epenthesis?

Adaptation and Ambiguity - I'm not even sure how to classify these, but rather than [æ.dəp.teɪ.ʃən] and [æm.bɪ.ˈgju.ɪ.ɾi], I've heard people say [ə.dæp.ʃən] and [æm.ˈbɪ.gwɪ.ɾi]. "Adaption" seems to be a word in its own right, but when I asked people to spell the word they had just said, they spelled it as "adaptation," so they weren't thinking of the word "adaption" to my knowledge. As for ambiguity... I have no idea. I should ask those speakers how they pronounce "ambiguous" perhaps?

Cicada - These bugs are normally called [sɪˈkeɪdə] or [sɪˈkɑːdə], but here many people call them katydids [keɪɾidɪdz]. I had never actually heard this until about a month ago, and some people are telling me it's SAE? I don't think so, considering everyone I grew up with called them cicada. :P

Now for my personal idiolect. These are words I've been called out on before, and I've only found a few (or no) people who pronounce them as I do.

Ostrich - ['ɑ.stɹɪ] or ['ɑ.stɹə] After checking every English word ending in "ch," only Ostrich and Spinach word final "ch" become voiced for me.
Spinach - [spɪnɪ] or [spɪnə] I've read that this may be a British pronunciation?
Onion - [ˈʌŋ.jən] or [ˈʌŋ.jɪn] I've never found anyone else who pronounces onion in this manner. I have no idea where I picked it up.
Months - [mʌns] Where did my θ go?! My pronunciation may also be transcribed as [mʌnts], depending on who you ask.
Resourceful - [ɹəˈzɔɹsfəl] While I feel that my schwa in the first syllable is relatively normal for American dialects, the voiced /z/ but retention of voiceless /s/ in "resource" strikes me as interesting. There are a few other speakers I've found who use these pronunciations.
Australia - [ɑl.ˈsʧɹeɪl.jə] Intrusive L? Haha.
Problem - [pɹɑlbləm] Same as the above for 'Australia'.
Put - [pʊɪt] My [ʊ] vowel seems to be a diphthong [ʊɪ]. Praat spectrogram analysis seems to confirm my suspicions.

On a lexical note, I say neither refrigerator nor fridge. I say refridge [ɹəˈfɹɪdʒ]. No clue why.

I invite you all to share your local dialects and idiolects here :D As linguists, we all know that no dialect or pronunciation is better than any other, but that doesn't mean we can't poke fun at ourselves for "sounding funny" if we do! I encourage that we use IPA, as trying to spell out sounds probably won't work out very well, as readers of xkcd come from very, very diverse language and dialectal backgrounds. Also, should you ever say "A sounds like B" or something along those lines, please include pronunciation information for both, as something that rhymes in your dialect may or may not rhyme in ours :)
Last edited by fənɑlədʒɪst on Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:30 pm UTC, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities

Postby Monika » Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:22 pm UTC

They seem to be different animals:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicada
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katydid

I totally agree with your pronunciation of clothes and months. The th-s must be eliminated!

Refridge is an interesting word.

Does your nick read phonologist?
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities

Postby fənɑlədʒɪst » Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:39 pm UTC



After making my post, I decided to google it and see for myself. I too noticed that, technically, they seem to be different animals... Odd, because people around here don't use them in that manner. They'll pick up a cicada shell and call it a "katydid skin," so somehow the term for what I would generally call a "grasshopper" has been applied to cicadas.

Grasshoppers here tend to be called grasshoppers, locusts, or lubbers (Romalea guttata).

And yes, [fənɑlədʒɪst] is "phonologist" transcribed in IPA in Standard American, but due to American English's tendency to potentially change any unstressed vowel to a schwa, it is often pronounced as /fənɑlədʒəst/ instead.

What about your regional dialect and idiolect, Monika? Anything interesting that you've noticed? Feel free to mention if you're a native speaker of some other language, as I'm sure there are people here who study dialects of languages other than English. I'm moderately familiar with various dialects of Japanese, for example.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:15 am UTC

For there to be any point in this thread remaining separate from the existing [url]local colloquialisms[/url] one, I think this thread should stick to issues of pronunciation while that one sticks to vocabulary. (Which means things like katydid/cicada and chipmunk/groundsquirrel (both pairs of which were distinct animals where I grew up, but apparently not in some other places) should really be discussed in that other thread.)
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Makri » Sun Aug 08, 2010 10:56 am UTC

I, too, have noticed a case that concerns voicing in my idiolect of Austrian German.

The German word for "shirt" is "Hemd". It's supposed to be /hemd/, but it is pronounced with a voiceless stop due to final devoicing. (Unfortunately, this board doesn't seem to support the voiceless diacritic of IPA.) The plural is "Hemden", which is something like /hemdən/ and comes out with a syllabic nasal in my variety. Now, I have apparently acquired the word with a voiceless stop, so I say something like [hɛmt̚n̩] in the plural. The supposedly correct for with the /d/ sounds really weird to me. But then, this isn't really exciting, since the final devoicing makes it easily understandable.

And then there's the word "Yoghurt" (Guess what it means...), where I've never been able to figure out the phonological identity of the dorsal stop. Phonetically, it's voiceless, but unaspirated. It sounds less weird if I voice it than if I aspirate it, but it's still somehow funny with voiced pronunciation. It's not like with any normal intervocalic /g/. I have no idea what's going on there. (As a side note, my idiolectal phonology is seriously complicated by the fact that I presumably have acquired a continuum between a dialect and a standard variety.)
I haven't really payed attention to how other speakers say this word...
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities

Postby Monika » Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:04 pm UTC

fənɑlədʒɪst wrote:What about your regional dialect and idiolect, Monika? Anything interesting that you've noticed? Feel free to mention if you're a native speaker of some other language, as I'm sure there are people here who study dialects of languages other than English. I'm moderately familiar with various dialects of Japanese, for example.

Well, I am German, and have moved around Germany. When I was about 2 and acquiring language I (and my mom and sister) lived with my grandparents in Stendal North of Magdeburg ... that is right at the border to Low German, which, regarding pronunciation, is very much distinct from High German (which has become standard) and is more closely related to Dutch. There I picked up pronouncing the participle prefix ge- as [jə] instead of [gə] (or maybe it's [jɛ] or some other e symbol in IPA, I am not so good with it). Also I sometimes say "ick" or "icke" instead of the correct "ich" [ɪç] (meaning "I") and I almost always say "jetze" ([jɛʦə] or maybe [jɛʦɛ], not sure) instead of the correct "jetzt" [jɛʦt] (meaning "now").
I moved back to Dresden where I was born already when I was 3. In kindergarten (3-6) nobody ever mentioned anything, but as soon as I entered school (6+), I got asked a lot whether I am from Berlin. Which I found very confusing at the time, as neither me nor anyone in my family came from Berlin. Berlin and Stendal are 160 km apart but equally far North/South and apparently are mistaken for the same dialect by "Southerners".
Google maps links to get an idea:
Berlin - Stendal http://maps.google.de/maps?f=d&source=s ... 77&t=h&z=9
Stendal - Dresden http://maps.google.de/maps?f=d&source=s ... F8&t=h&z=7

Saxony (the state around Dresden) has its own distinct dialect (loathed by the rest of the nation). The unvoiced/hard consonants get voiced/softened. Also the vowels get moved around but I couldn't describe how, except that ei [aɪ̯] becomes ee [eː] in most words. I don't seem to have picked up much of that - I can understand it just fine, but I can't even imitate Saxon if I try to. Also of the Saxons I know only about 1 out of 7 actually uses this dialect, the others speak standard German or something close to it.

I pronounce final -er as somewhere between [a] and [ɐ] and I am not sure if I got this from the Northern German or the Saxon dialect or everybody does this.

Now I live in the Southwest, in the Mannheim-Heidelberg area known as Kurpfalz, not too far from the French border. People here drop the final -n of the -en suffix, and there are a lot of words with final -en, e.g. the infinitive, first and third person plural forms of verbs. That sounds pretty weird. This property is common to Dutch - which I find very strange, as this High German dialect is far apart from Dutch in all other respects.


As for English, I guess I pronounce it similar to most Germans who have learned it after the language window closing around the age of 10. I pronounce th as s or f. I used to be unable to voice consonants at the end of words. I pronounce w as v. I do not make the unemphasized vowels into schwas - is there a noun for this? Schwaification? The voicing of final consonants improved after my year in the US. The th and vowels did not :cry: . Only recently I discovered there are a lot more silent consonants in starting consonant clusters than the k in kn-, e.g. w in wr-, p in ps- and m in mn- ... I try to pay more attention to this now.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities

Postby Lazar » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:27 pm UTC

I was born in Worcester, a medium-sized postindustrial city in central Massachusetts. I grew up in a small suburb of the city, and currently attend university in the city. In short, I describe my idiolect as a hybrid of General American with Eastern New England, the traditional dialect of my area (spoken consistently by my grandfather, and variably by my parents).

The Eastern New England dialect

As a general rule, ENE is spoken in the eastern two thirds of New England - that is, the area to the east of the Connecticut River. Significant variations can be found in Maine and in the area of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts; the variety that I'm describing is spoken in eastern and central Massachusetts, primarily in and around the cities of Boston and Worcester.

Non-rhoticity

The most notable feature of ENE is its non-rhoticity - the absence of [r] at the end of a syllable. Examples:

car - [ˈkʰa:]
care - [ˈkʰɛə]
here - [ˈhɪə]
horse - [ˈhɔəs] or [ˈhɒ:s]
hoarse - [ˈhɔəs]
better - [ˈbɛɾə]
sure - [ˈʃʊə]
burn - [ˈbɜ:n] or [ˈbʏ:n]

Two observations:

The so-called horse-hoarse distinction is preserved among some older speakers, with "horse" being pronounced like "hoss". Nonetheless, most younger speakers pronounce them both as [ˈhɔəs].

The vowel in "burn" is the least stable of those listed: not only can it vary between [ɜ:] and [ʏ:], but it is also the most likely of the non-rhotic vowels to be replaced with its rhotic equivalent, [ɝ:].

The intrusive r, variable rhoticity and hyperrhoticity

Like almost all the non-rhotic dialects of English, ENE makes consistent use of the intrusive r. That is, in ENE phonology, it is impossible for a non-high vowel to be followed by another vowel without the insertion of an allophonic [r]. Examples:

"the spa is nice" [ðə ˈspa:r ɪz nɐɪs]
"Linda is coming" [ˈlɪndər ɪz kʰɐmɪŋ]
"the idea of it" [ði aɪˈdɪər əv ɪt]
"drawing" [ˈdrɒ:rɪŋ]

Another issue is variable rhoticity: although ENE is canonically non-rhotic, many speakers of the dialect are in reality variably rhotic: they will make free, seemingly random use of rhotic and non-rhotic forms even within the same sentence. (You can hear this in recordings of the late Senator Ted Kennedy.) A natural consequence of this is hyperrhoticity, the use of putatively incorrect rhotic forms even when not followed by another vowel, such as [ˈkʰju:bɚ] for "Cuba", or [aɪˈdɪɚ] for "idea".

Pre-/r/ distinctions

Like other non-rhotic dialects of English, ENE maintains a series of pre-/r/ vowel distinctions which have been lost in General American: to wit, "Mary-merry-marry", "serious-Sirius", "hurry-furry" and "Tory-torrent". Examples:

Mary - [ˈmɛəri]
merry - [ˈmɛri]
marry - [ˈmæri]

serious - [ˈsɪəriəs]
Sirius - [ˈsɪriəs]

hurry - [ˈhʌri]
furry - [ˈfɜ:ri]

Tory - [ˈtʰɔəri]
torrent - [ˈtʰɒ:rənt]

The low-back vowel system

ENE has a unique low-back vowel system which distinguishes it from nearly all other North American dialects. Rather than merging father-bother and maintaining the cot-caught distinction, as do General American and New York, ENE does the opposite, merging cot-caught while maintaining the father-bother distinction. (This gives ENE a coincidental similarity to Scottish English.) The "father" vowel is [a:], more central than the back [ɑ:] of GA or NY; while the "cot/bother" vowel is an open [ɒ:].

father - [ˈfa:ðə]
bother - [ˈbɒ:ðə]
cot, caught - [ˈkʰɒ:t]

The trap-bath split

One distinct feature of ENE is the trap-bath split, an innovation taken from southern England, which causes historical /æ/ to become /a:/ in certain contexts, chiefly before fricatives, and before /nt/.

bath - [ˈba:θ]
path - [ˈpʰa:θ]
pass - [ˈpʰa:s]
laugh - [ˈla:f]
half - [ˈha:f]
aunt - [ˈa:nt]
can't - [ˈkʰa:nt]

Pre-nasal tensing, and centralized /ʌ/

Before /n/ or /m/, the vowel /æ/ takes a tense allophone [ɛə]. Examples:

man - [ˈmɛən]
ham - [ˈhɛəm]

The other issue is subtle: in ENE, /ʌ/ tends to be pronounced more central than the canonical General American vowel [ʌ], which I would describe as near-back. ENE shares the more central realization, [ɐ], with the dialects of southern England.

Canadian raising

Despite its name, the phenomenon of Canadian raising is common throughout large segments of the northern US, and most ENE speakers exhibit it to some extent. Canadian raising means that the diphthongs /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ take raised allophones before voiceless consonants. /aɪ/ becomes [ɐɪ], while /aʊ/ becomes [ɐʊ] or [ɛʊ]. Examples:

eyes - [ˈaɪz]
ice - [ˈɐɪs]

ride - [ˈraɪd]
write - [ˈrɐɪt]

rider - [ˈraɪɾə]
writer - [ˈrɐɪɾə]

loud - [ˈlaʊd]
lout - [ˈlɐʊt] or [ˈlɛʊt]

n.b. "rider, writer": the allophony is maintained even when the phonetic distinction between /d/ and /t/ is neutralized.

My idiolect, a hybrid

As I noted above, my idiolect is a hybrid of ENE and GA phonology. This may reflect my suburban upbringing, as ENE dialectal features seem to remain the strongest in urban areas.

General American features

- I am fully rhotic; my phonology makes full use of the rhotic vowels [ɑɚ], [ɛɚ], [ɪɚ], [ɔɚ], [ʊɚ], [ɝ:] and [ɚ].
- I exhibit no hyperrhoticity; when not followed by another vowel, "Cuba" is [ˈkʰju:bə], and "idea" is [aɪˈdɪə].
- I lack the trap-bath split, except in "aunt".
- I lack significant pre-nasal tensing.
- I pronounce /ʌ/ as [ʌ], rather than [ɐ].
- Likewise, I use GA [ɑ:] in place of ENE [a:].

Eastern New England features

- Although I exhibit no hyperrhoticity, I do make consistent use of the intrusive r. "Linda is" becomes [ˈlɪndɚ ɪz].
- I maintain all the pre-/r/ distinctions.
- I exhibit full Canadian raising, with [ɐɪ] and [ɛʊ] as allophones.
- I maintain the ENE low-back vowel system: "father" uses [ɑ:], while "bother" and "cot, caught" all use [ɒ:].

I should note that the extensive peculiarities of the ENE dialect, and my own idiolect, have largely inspired my interest in phonology. I've never received formal instruction in linguistics, and the "lower" matters of language (phonology chief among them) have always held more attraction for me than the theoretical stuff.

Monika wrote:I do not make the unemphasized vowels into schwas - is there a noun for this? Schwaification?

The commonly used term for that is reduction.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby vaguelyhumanoid » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:39 pm UTC

I'm from Seattle, and my parents are from Spokane and St. Petersburg, Florida.

I exhibit the cot-caught merger, with both vowels as /ɑ/.
I pronounce the initial sound in "erotic" and "equality" as /ɨ/ in casual speech.
I often pronounce "tt" as in "butter" as /d/, but not observably /ɾ/.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:41 am UTC

I'm from Portland, OR, as is my father, and my mother is from far southwestern Oregon.

For the most part, Oregon PNW English is identical to Washingtonians' speech, for example we merge all [ɔ]s into [ɑ]s and there aren't substantial differences in vocabulary, even in slang.

An interesting difference is that Oregonians merge pen and pin. I go to school in Seattle and I once said to a classmate, "I am a pen," a nonsense phrase I read in a Japanese-English slang book, and he was very confused. Until I told him to "flip me upside down and write on the sidewalk" he thought I needed to be put in a pincushion.
I'm not actually positive the pen-pin merger is widespread in Oregon. Wikipedia says it's only in rural Oregonian and I might have picked it up from my mother. I have trouble hearing the difference and I can't say [ɛn] or [ɛm] without contorting my jaw.

Everyone I know in Portland elides the D in "x and I."
Egg is pronounced [eg] (but the author Dave Eggers is [ɛggr̩z]).

I have a sneaking suspicion that my diphthongs are screwy. I never say [ɑi], always [ɑe]. I never say [eɪ], always [e:]. I can't confirm this for other Oregonians.
[θ] and [ð] aren't distinct.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Aiwendil42 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:12 pm UTC

Some features of my pronunciation (from northern New Jersey):

- It is rhotic, with no hyperrhoticity or intrusive 'r'.

- Non-phonemic æ-tensing: Short 'a', which I normally pronounce /æ/, becomes /ɛə/ or maybe /eə/ before 'n' or 'm' (for many other speakers in my area this tensing occurs in a lot of other places as well, but I believe for me it's restricted to vowels before 'n' or 'm').

- Lot-cloth split: Short 'o' (normally /ɑ/) usually becomes something between /ɒ/ and /ɔ/ before 'th' or 'ng' (though with some exceptions, e.g. 'Goth') and also in other isolated words like 'coffee' /kɔfi/ and 'dog' /dɔg/. Some speakers in my area lack this split or apply it more restrictively. But for me, 'hog' and 'dog', for example, don't rhyme.

- Dew-do merger: Both are pronounced /du/. 'News' is /nuz/, etc.

- 'Mary' and 'marry' are pronounced the same, something like /meəri/, but 'merry' is quite distinct, /mɛri/.

- Pre-rhotic 'o': Normally 'or' is /ɔr/, but it becomes /ɑr/ in some cases (e.g. tomorrow, borrow, sorry). For some speakers in my area, /ɑr/ also appears in 'orange', 'horrible', 'Dorothy', and certain other words, which in my pronunciation retain /ɔr/.

- Glottal stops: 't' often becomes a glottal stop between vowels, for example in 'button'.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Makri » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:19 pm UTC

- Non-phonemic æ-tensing: Short 'a', which I normally pronounce /æ/, becomes /ɛə/ or maybe /eə/ before 'n' or 'm' (for many other speakers in my area this tensing occurs in a lot of other places as well, but I believe for me it's restricted to vowels before 'n' or 'm').


Really non-phonemic? So you have it in both "can" (the container) and "can" (the modal verb)?

- Glottal stops: 't' often becomes a glottal stop between vowels, for example in 'button'.


Is this in free variation with flapping in intervocalic contexts? From the example you give, my suspicion is that it occurs really before syllabic nasals, but not actually in intervocalic contexts like in "better".
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Aiwendil42 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:07 pm UTC

Really non-phonemic? So you have it in both "can" (the container) and "can" (the modal verb)?


Yes, the container and the modal verb are homophonous for me.

Is this in free variation with flapping in intervocalic contexts? From the example you give, my suspicion is that it occurs really before syllabic nasals, but not actually in intervocalic contexts like in "better".


You're right, I didn't think that through before posting. Intervocalically, it's an alveolar flap; before syllabic nasals, it's a glottal stop.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby GarrettIrish » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:12 pm UTC

Well I guess my dialect has been covered mostly by the original poster, though East Tennessee is a mixture of Southern and Appalachian dialects.The only other things I can think of is the Caught/Cot merger (two words I can't distinguish when speaking no matter how hard I try) and Fire/Four. I personally still distinguish the second, barely, because the strong flat i is a major Tennessee pronounciation, and many of my relatives do it. They made a joke about it in one of those Civil War movies (Gods and Generals I think?) with the Tennessean prisoners saying "We're fighting for our rights" with it coming out like "rats".
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Makri » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:50 pm UTC

Another thing that fits here:
I have an allophony rule that I've never seen recognized in any description of German. /l/ is pronounced as retroflex [ɭ] after labial consonats and after non-front vowels (that is, after /a/, /o/ and /u/, both long an short, but not after /ə/, the existence of which is doubtful in my language and which is, in any case, pronounced [ɛ]), and [l] everywhere else. Crucially, it is pronounced [l] after /ər/, even though that is rendered as [ɐ]. I know there are some speakers who also say [ɭ] after [ɐ] from /ər/, but otherwise, I haven't payed enough attention to know how other people treat /l/.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:49 pm UTC

I can't do any of the fancy symbols (my computer doesn't particularly like them, and frankly, I'm not that well versed in them anyway) but here's some of the distinctions in my accent. (Originally from the suburbs of Detroit, MI - currently mainly residing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but also in Illinois and Wisconsin)

Evidently, my accent (mostly Inland Northern American English) is due to the Northern Cities Vowel Shift Still, wikipedia says
This dialect used to be the "standard Midwestern" speech that is traditionally regarded as the basis for General American in the mid-20th century, though it has been since modified by an innovative vowel shift known as the Northern Cities Shift, which has altered its character.


Ooh, innovative! I feel special. Anyway...

Cot-caught merger - Doesn't happen, not even when speaking quickly. Honestly, I have difficulties seeing how those can even be pronounced the same.

Mary-merry-marry merger - Those are all pronounced pretty much the same. I think I do pronounce Merry a bit differently, but only when I'm really thinking about it, and it's probably not audible to the person listening.

Pen-pin merger - Doesn't happen. I'm one of those people who get confused by it!

Finally, a little bit of "yooper" has crept into my speech. (Yooper dialect is from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is very similar to some Canadian and Minnesotan accents) I've found myself dropping the diphthong of about, and saying something closer to "aboot".
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Makri » Fri Aug 13, 2010 2:15 pm UTC

Cot-caught merger - Doesn't happen, not even when speaking quickly. Honestly, I have difficulties seeing how those can even be pronounced the same.


The apparently non-existing variety of American English that I've acquired has the merger and both words are pronounced [kɑt].
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:20 am UTC

Makri wrote:The apparently non-existing variety of American English that I've acquired
No one said it doesn't exist. Kestrel only said it doesn't happen in her own speech, and that she has trouble understanding how those could be pronounced the same and still sound like a natural variety of English.

To which I'd say, Kestrel should pay closer attention to the speech of everyone who grew up west of the Mississippi, because a great many of them have the merger in their speech, and yet it still sounds like American English.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Makri » Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:03 am UTC

No one said it doesn't exist. Kestrel only said it doesn't happen in her own speech, and that she has trouble understanding how those could be pronounced the same and still sound like a natural variety of English.


That's a misunderstanding. What I meant is that I couldn't pin down a variety of English that has the bundle of phonological features that I find in my speech.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:33 pm UTC

Ah, okay. It wasn't clear to me if the "apparently doesn't exist" was a direct response to her, or an unrelated statement as it turned out to be.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:51 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Makri wrote:The apparently non-existing variety of American English that I've acquired
No one said it doesn't exist. Kestrel only said it doesn't happen in her own speech, and that she has trouble understanding how those could be pronounced the same and still sound like a natural variety of English.

To which I'd say, Kestrel should pay closer attention to the speech of everyone who grew up west of the Mississippi, because a great many of them have the merger in their speech, and yet it still sounds like American English.


Yup, that's what I meant. And, you're right - I've been west of the Mississippi once for a robotics competition that was international, so I heard tons of accents then, and didn't really know which were which.

That competition was the first time I heard Oregon pronounced with two syllables, exactly like I would pronounce organ. The team next to us was from Oregon and asked if we knew where ‘Organ’ was. We, being all of 12 years old, were all confused and said "In a church?"

I'm currently in a college that basically only has people from the Midwest and Asia. Being a student, I'm poor. Was going to go to Colorado this summer, but had to work an extra week. The only countries I've been in are the US and Canada. Canada really doesn't count when you live 20 minutes away and can travel south to it. Someday I'll actually be decently traveled, or at least have been to more than the Midwest states, Georgia, Florida, and Texas. I haven't even seen New England! Jeeze I need to take some road trips!
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Derek » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:00 am UTC

I'm from North Carolina.

Some of the things already mentioned:
-Pin-pen merger: I'm pretty sure I was even given those words as an example of homophones in elementary school. I found out that they were different for most people when I started reading about linguistics on Wikipedia (which is the same time I learned about most pronunciation differences).
-Non-phonemic æ-tensing: Both forms of can are pronounced /cɛən/.
-Ostrich/Spinach: I agree with the OP on these, both end in /ʤ/.
-Caught-cot merger: I don't perceive a difference here, I perceive both as /ɑ/. However, I might produce a difference in some situations. I've thought about it so much that I have become completely confused and can no longer trust my own judgments. As with pin-pen, I didn't know they could be anything but homophones until I started reading Wikipedia. Having learned of the difference though, I noticed that my dad does not have this merger. He pronounces /ɔtoʊ/ where I would say /ɑtoʊ/.
-Mary, Merry, Marry merger: Completely merged to /ɛri/.

Personally, I always had trouble with my rhotic vowels. For whatever reason, I don't produce them correctly. Years of speech therapy yielded few results. As a result, when people hear me for the first time, they often think I'm British (British people don't make the same mistake, obviously. Though an Irish/German guy once did). One other thing, I'm not sure if this is part of my dialect or just something unusual that I do, but I pronounce "mirror" as /mɛrɚ/. I haven't been able to find any discussion of this pronunciation on the internet (its always discussion of /mirɚ/ vs. /mɪrɚ/), so I think I might just be a freak.

I'ld also like to know how people pronounce "our", /aʊɚ/ (rhymes with "hour") or /ɑɹ/ (rhymes with "are"). I do the latter. Wikipedia lists both (for US English), but I'm curious as to which predominates where.

My dad (always lived in North Carolina) has some interesting traits from older Southern dialects:
-Intrusive R: While his speech is entirely rhotic, he often pronounces intrusive r's, such as "the idear of it". I don't know if he is consistent about it though. This, I presume, is a holdover from when Southern dialects were non-rhotic.
-Non yod-dropping: Again, I'm not sure if this is consistent, but he often preserves the distinction between /ju/ and /u/ where most Americans wouldn't (ex, "dew" /dju/ and "do" /du/). This can sometimes lead to palatalization, for example, he pronounces "stupid" (/stupɪd/ for me) as /stjpɪd/ or even /stʃupɪd/. When I realized this I finally understood an old UNC vs. Duke joke involving spelling Duke as "Dook" (historically, "Duke" would be pronounced /djuk/ by North Carolinians, but it has a reputation for attracting Northerners who would pronounce it /duk/).
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Iulus Cofield » Wed Aug 18, 2010 10:49 am UTC

Derek wrote:I'ld also like to know how people pronounce "our", /aʊɚ/ (rhymes with "hour") or /ɑɹ/ (rhymes with "are"). I do the latter. Wikipedia lists both (for US English), but I'm curious as to which predominates where.


Rhymes with "are."

Thanks to this thread I've also noticed [æ] becomes [e] before [ŋ]. And that I've merged the vowels in marry/merry/Mary to [e].
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Aiwendil42 » Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:59 pm UTC

Derek wrote:Personally, I always had trouble with my rhotic vowels. For whatever reason, I don't produce them correctly. Years of speech therapy yielded few results. As a result, when people hear me for the first time, they often think I'm British


That's exactly the case for me as well! The speech around here is purely rhotic, and I hear myself pronouncing 'r' rhotically, but if I listen to a recording of my voice, the 'r' tends to sound strange and weak. Someone once asked me how long I'd been in the U.S. In fact, I had never been outside it.

I'ld also like to know how people pronounce "our", /aʊɚ/ (rhymes with "hour") or /ɑɹ/ (rhymes with "are"). I do the latter. Wikipedia lists both (for US English), but I'm curious as to which predominates where.


It's /æʊɹ/, rhyming with "hour", for me (from northern New Jersey), though it is common to hear it pronounced /ɑɹ/ around here as well.

Another (perhaps) unusual feature of my pronunciation that I've just thought of is that I make a distinction between "w" and "wh". So, for example, "white" and "wight" are not homophones. This actually seems to be quite uncommon in my area, though I distinctly remember being taught to pronounce "wh" that way in Kindergarten. I'm not sure whether the distinction is one I acquired "naturally" or whether I simply took that Kindergarten phonics lesson very much to heart.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby fənɑlədʒɪst » Wed Aug 18, 2010 5:02 pm UTC

Derek wrote:I'm not sure if this is part of my dialect or just something unusual that I do, but I pronounce "mirror" as /mɛrɚ/. I haven't been able to find any discussion of this pronunciation on the internet (its always discussion of /mirɚ/ vs. /mɪrɚ/), so I think I might just be a freak.


This is very odd for me to read, because in my idiolect, "mirror" is monosyllabic and is always realized as [miɹ]. I've never used /ɪ/, nor do I use it in "we're."
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Cefor » Wed Aug 18, 2010 8:18 pm UTC

I'm new to linguistics as a whole, professional standard anyway, so I don't think I'm going to try and use the IPA symbols for anything until I read up on them more.

I'm British, or English as I usually say, and I find accents amazingly cool. My question to you Americans, is which accents/dialects do you know that the English have? I mean, for me, there are possibly three American accents I could identify (and very likely get them wrong anyway :D ). Something of a New York, Southern (Georgia area?) and Texan, which always seems to be unique to my ears.

I've always had the impression that the folk over the pond only know of two, perhaps three, English accents. Queen's English, Cockney and (possibly) Northern. There are, of course, many more regional dialects in England alone. In just 36 miles the difference in dialect is vast, my home town of Darlington to Newcastle. Geordie accents are unique, except that a southerner will occasionally get someone from my area mixed up with a Geordie. I've even been asked if I am Scottish by a, I think, Londoner before. All strange, but very interesting.

Would any one of you be able to distinguish even the three dialects I listed if you heard them?
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:34 am UTC

I could recognize RP and Cockney, but the only other English dialect I've been exposed to is Patrick Stewart's native one. Yorkish, I suppose it's called.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Derek » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:53 am UTC

I have heard of several English accents, but I don't think I could identify any other than RP/generic and Cockney.

Aiwendil42 wrote:That's exactly the case for me as well! The speech around here is purely rhotic, and I hear myself pronouncing 'r' rhotically, but if I listen to a recording of my voice, the 'r' tends to sound strange and weak. Someone once asked me how long I'd been in the U.S. In fact, I had never been outside it.

Yeah, exactly! At least I'm not alone.

Another (perhaps) unusual feature of my pronunciation that I've just thought of is that I make a distinction between "w" and "wh". So, for example, "white" and "wight" are not homophones. This actually seems to be quite uncommon in my area, though I distinctly remember being taught to pronounce "wh" that way in Kindergarten. I'm not sure whether the distinction is one I acquired "naturally" or whether I simply took that Kindergarten phonics lesson very much to heart.

Oh, thats another good one that my dad does. Not me though.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Lazar » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:17 am UTC

Cefor wrote:I'm British, or English as I usually say, and I find accents amazingly cool. My question to you Americans, is which accents/dialects do you know that the English have?

I come from an anglophile family and love phonology, so I'm more familiar with English dialects than are most Americans. The main ones that I'm familiar with are RP, Estuary, Cockney, Brummie, West Country, Northern and Scouse. But many of the finer distinctions are still lost on me - e.g., I can't distinguish Kent from Essex, or Yorkshire from Lancashire.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Aiwendil42 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:40 am UTC

My question to you Americans, is which accents/dialects do you know that the English have?


I'm a bit of an Anglophile, but as I've never been outside North America, my knowledge of English accents comes mostly from television. So while I can hear that English people speak in a wide variety of accents, I can only place those accents geographically very roughly at best.

I can certainly distinguish a Northern accent, a Cockney/lower-class accent, a posh upper-class accent, and a more neutral and common accent that I guess must be middle class and/or southern. Nuances beyond that get a bit fuzzier for me. I think there's a certain rural accent (midlands, maybe?) that sounds to me similar to, but distinct from, a northern accent. Then there's the way the Beatles talked, which I've always assumed must be a Liverpool-area accent, and which sounds to me like a variation of the northern accent with a hint of Cockney/lower-class thrown in. Beyond that, while I can hear other differences from one English speaker to another, I can't make clear distinctions of one accent from another.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Cefor » Thu Aug 19, 2010 1:04 pm UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:I could recognize RP and Cockney, but the only other English dialect I've been exposed to is Patrick Stewart's native one. Yorkish, I suppose it's called.


Haha! Yorkish, that's a good one :D It would actually be called a Yorkshire accent. I did a quick Google on RP, I didn't know it means Received Pronunciation, and think that RP is a silly name - as it should be instead called Queen's English (if we call it that, then everybody else should :P)

Lazar wrote:
Cefor wrote:I'm British, or English as I usually say, and I find accents amazingly cool. My question to you Americans, is which accents/dialects do you know that the English have?

I come from an anglophile family and love phonology, so I'm more familiar with English dialects than are most Americans. The main ones that I'm familiar with are RP, Estuary, Cockney, Brummie, West Country, Northern and Scouse. But many of the finer distinctions are still lost on me - e.g., I can't distinguish Kent from Essex, or Yorkshire from Lancashire.


I don't think you should worry too much, Lazar, as many Englishmen can't distinguish between Yorkshire and Lancashire for example. I couldn't, for sure, though I can distinguish between the more well known dialects. Northern is too ambiguous, there are many northern dialects I'm afraid. Geordie (Newcastle), Scouse (Liverpool), Mackem (Sunderland), Mancunian (or Manc, Manchester), to name but a few :)

Aiwendil42 wrote:
My question to you Americans, is which accents/dialects do you know that the English have?


I'm a bit of an Anglophile, but as I've never been outside North America, my knowledge of English accents comes mostly from television. So while I can hear that English people speak in a wide variety of accents, I can only place those accents geographically very roughly at best.

I can certainly distinguish a Northern accent, a Cockney/lower-class accent, a posh upper-class accent, and a more neutral and common accent that I guess must be middle class and/or southern. Nuances beyond that get a bit fuzzier for me. I think there's a certain rural accent (midlands, maybe?) that sounds to me similar to, but distinct from, a northern accent. Then there's the way the Beatles talked, which I've always assumed must be a Liverpool-area accent, and which sounds to me like a variation of the northern accent with a hint of Cockney/lower-class thrown in. Beyond that, while I can hear other differences from one English speaker to another, I can't make clear distinctions of one accent from another.


You need to be careful as to what Television you're watching, because most English accents are horribly accentuated in anything done by an American. I find it amusing that you've placed Cockney with 'lower-class' and your 'posh upper-class' would be RP, or Queen's English. Now, I don't live in the south, so I can't truly speak for the pesky southerners, but I imagine that they wouldn't be happy with a distinction like that.
I feel I should point out that there isn't a neutral, or common, accent at all - though from what you're thinking of it probably is just 'southern'. I don't talk like a southerner, but I'd say I was middle class. Your 'rural' accents would probably be a Dorset area, West Country as mentioned above.
The Beatles are Scousers, which is Liverpudlian yes. Scouse is individual, totally in it's own league. Even Lancashire, to the north I think, right next door speaks totally different.

The biggest divide is between northern and southern, as I imagine American dialects divide too. Northern dialects usually have short A's, whereas southern are notorious for their long A's. For example, whenever taking the mick out of a southerner's accent I'll say "Oh, so you're going to wipe your arse with the grass?". Arse and grass rhyming, in the southern dialect, not rhyming in the slightest with my natural dialect. I suppose they could respond with the same thing, but with 'ass' and 'grass' instead.

Sorry for not using IPA at all, I will research into that more at some point. For a more of a definition of any English accent just Wikipedia it, it's all there really.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Aiwendil42 » Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:53 pm UTC

You need to be careful as to what Television you're watching, because most English accents are horribly accentuated in anything done by an American.


Yeah, I do watch a fair amount of English stuff though, so I think I've had decent exposure to authentic English accents. The problem is that without knowing where the actors are from, it's hard to tell which accent is which.

I find it amusing that you've placed Cockney with 'lower-class'


I was rather under the impression that the Cockney accent was associated with working-class Londoners. Is this not the case?

your 'posh upper-class' would be RP, or Queen's English.


On further reflection, I think I can distinguish two accents here - what I was thinking of as 'posh upper-class' (sort of Peter Wimsey-esque, possibly with meaningless 'what's attached to the ends of sentences) and a less exaggerated BBC announcer accent.

I feel I should point out that there isn't a neutral, or common, accent at all - though from what you're thinking of it probably is just 'southern'.


Yes, I'm aware there's no such thing as a 'neutral' accent. What I meant was that, to my American ears, it has fewer striking features than the others I described, and sounds more like an American accent except with different vowel qualities and non-rhotic 'r's.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Cefor » Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:42 pm UTC

Aiwendil42 wrote:Yeah, I do watch a fair amount of English stuff though, so I think I've had decent exposure to authentic English accents. The problem is that without knowing where the actors are from, it's hard to tell which accent is which.


What sort of things do you watch?

I was rather under the impression that the Cockney accent was associated with working-class Londoners. Is this not the case?


I suppose the majority of Cockney speakers will be working-class, you're right. Hmm.

On further reflection, I think I can distinguish two accents here - what I was thinking of as 'posh upper-class' (sort of Peter Wimsey-esque, possibly with meaningless 'what's attached to the ends of sentences) and a less exaggerated BBC announcer accent.


The whole posh accent thing is really just attributed to anyone who speaks RP, especially if they are rich and pompous. Meaningless 'what's attached to the end of sentences doesn't happen. I'm almost sure of that. ( I say almost because I'm not in contact with anyone who could be remotely called posh, you'd have to go down to central London for that.)

Yes, I'm aware there's no such thing as a 'neutral' accent. What I meant was that, to my American ears, it has fewer striking features than the others I described, and sounds more like an American accent except with different vowel qualities and non-rhotic 'r's.


That's something I'm having trouble to understand, really. I haven't come across an English dialect which would sound remotely American, to my ears at least. Then again, it's not something that I have a whole-lot of experience with.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Aiwendil42 » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:03 pm UTC

What sort of things do you watch?


Let's see - I watch quite a few English mysteries (Foyle's War, Poirot, Inspector Morse, Inspector Lynley, and many others), as well as some other shows like Rumpole and All Creatures Great and Small; then of course there's Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. I also watch a fair number of English movies, mainly older ones (e.g. British Hitchcock). And I'm sure there are quite a few other things I can't think of at the moment.

The whole posh accent thing is really just attributed to anyone who speaks RP, especially if they are rich and pompous.


Maybe the distinction I have in mind is between older RP and contemporary RP. And it's likely that my idea of the upper-class accent derives as much from caricatures of that accent as from the accent itself.

Meaningless 'what's attached to the end of sentences doesn't happen.


Not anymore, maybe, but it must have happened at some point. I'm thinking Bertie Wooster, Peter Wimsey, that sort of thing - undoubtedly exaggerated for effect, but that sort of depiction of upper-class speech must have come from somewhere.

That's something I'm having trouble to understand, really. I haven't come across an English dialect which would sound remotely American, to my ears at least.


It's not that I find any English accent particularly similar to American speech, but rather that what I called the more 'neutral' accent is less unlike American than the others. After checking with Wikipedia, I think that what I have in mind here is something between Estuary and modern RP.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby meatyochre » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:20 pm UTC

I've always wondered how to categorize the way Southern Americans say the word "nine." It's like they use a whole different vowel sound from generic TV English. It sounds like "naaaaen" (kinda, but it's hard to describe exactly). It's extremely nasal.

I can't think of any other words, even ones that rhyme with nine like "dine," that use the same vowel sound in that region.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Derek » Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:01 am UTC

You're probably thinking of this:
The diphthong /aɪ/ becomes monophthongized to [aː]:
Most speakers exhibit this feature at the ends of words and before voiced consonants but not before voiceless consonants; some in fact exhibit Canadian-style raising before voiceless consonants, so that ride is [raːd] and wide is [waːd], but right is [rəɪt] and white is [hwəɪt]. Many speakers throughout the South exhibit backing to [ɑːe] in environments where monophthongization does not take place.[4]
Others monophthongize /aɪ/ in all contexts, as in the stereotyped pronunciation "nahs whaht rahs" for nice white rice; these speakers are mostly found in an Appalachian area that includes eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and Northern Alabama (the "Inland South"), as well as in Central Texas.[5] Elsewhere in the South, this pronunciation is stigmatized as a working class feature.
The "Southern Drawl", breaking of the short front vowels in the w

Its common in the stronger Southern accents.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Aug 21, 2010 3:20 pm UTC

your 'posh upper-class' would be RP, or Queen's English.
No, it wouldn't. RP and "posh upper-class" are different, and the Queen doesn't really speak "the Queen's English".
Treatid basically wrote:widdout elephants deh be no starting points. deh be no ZFC.


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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby posentin » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:20 am UTC

Derek wrote:I'm from North Carolina.
One other thing, I'm not sure if this is part of my dialect or just something unusual that I do, but I pronounce "mirror" as /mɛrɚ/. I haven't been able to find any discussion of this pronunciation on the internet (its always discussion of /mirɚ/ vs. /mɪrɚ/), so I think I might just be a freak.

I'm from california, and have the same pronunciation of "mirror" as /mɛrɚ/. It definitely doesn't rhyme with 'nearer' to me, and saying it with an /i/ sounds antiquated.

My accent is affected by the californian vowel shift, my most particularly noticed shifted word is "shit" as /ʃɛt/. And although my /ʊ/ words are shifted to /ʌ/ quite a lot, I hardly get called on that though.

I also say "chap stick" as "chop stick" as i've been told.
Last edited by posentin on Thu Aug 26, 2010 6:29 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Lazar » Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:31 am UTC

Some sources refer to the ultra-posh accent as U-RP, as opposed to regular RP.
When it gets loudly, it gets very loud indeed!
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Alces » Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:48 am UTC

I live in Merseyside in England, around the boundary of Scouse accents vs. Lancastrian accents, so my accent is a sort of hybrid of the two. I've got features of both.
- My speech is non-rhotic. Traditionally Lancashire accents retained rhoticity, but this is very rare nowdays, in the south at least. I have the intrusive 'r' (as virtually everyone in England does, although some try to avoid it) where 'r' is inserted between a vowel other than [i u] and another vowel: so 'the law is' sounds to an American like 'the lore is'.
- /t/ becomes a glottal stop [ʔ] whenever it is at the end of a syllable; this includes between two vowels when the second one is not stressed, so 'bottle' is [ˈbɒʔl], but 'attack' is [əˈtak]. This is very common for young people in England who live in urban areas; it's not just Cockney that does it.
- However, /t/ at the end of a word in certain phrases (e.g. 'a lot of') is often flapped instead, becoming [ɾ], like what Americans do to /t/ and /d/ between vowels. This is common in Northern England.
- In Scouse, the dental fricatives /θ ð/ (as in 'thin', 'this' respectively) tend to become dental [t̪ d̪], so that they sound very much like /t d/ (but are still distinct due to /t d/ being alveolar). Younger people, and me, instead might merge them with [f v], as Cockneys do. In Lancashire the sounds are usually preserved.
- Since I'm from northern England, any standard [ʌ] (as in 'cut', 'strut') is [ʊ] (as in 'foot', 'put'). (Historically, this is because the shift of [ʊ] > [ʌ] in certain enviroments never happened in Northern England.)
- Another feature found in most of the north: some [ɑː] vowels which are found in Southern England, e.g. in 'laugh', 'pass') have the same vowel of 'cat', 'mat', like America. We still have [ɑː] from disappearance of [r] and [l] though (in 'start', 'palm', 'half') and in a few odd words ('can't', 'rather').
- However, the vowel we have in 'cat', 'mat' is not the same as in America: it's a pure [a], not [æ], like the French 'a' sound.
- I merge words like 'square', 'air', with a historical 'ay' sound before an 'r', with words like 'sir', 'her', 'fur' with a historical 'e', 'i' or 'u' before an 'r'. So fair, fare, fir and fur are homophones for me. This is done in both Liverpool and (south) Lancashire; Lancastrians pronounce the merged sound like the one in 'fur', while Scousers pronounce it like the sound in 'fair'. I pronounce it like 'fur' myself. In IPA terms, RP [ɛə] > [ɜː].
- I merge the vowel of words like 'cure', 'poor' with words like 'sore', 'for', 'boar', that is, RP [ʊə] > [ɔː]. This is very common in England. People with a strong Lancashire accent would preserve the distinction, pronouncing the 'poor' words with [uə] 'oower', but I don't.
- 'us' is [ʊz], 'our' has been simplified to [ɑː] (so it's a homophone with 'are' rather than 'hour') and the plural form of 'you' is 'youse' [yuːz].
- Lancashire dialects typically simplify [ei ou] (as in 'bake', 'soak') to [eː oː]; I don't do this though; Scousers never do. They also typically tend to replace all 'was' with 'were' (e.g. 'I were ill', 'it were great'). I rarely do this, although it might happen occasionally with 'weren't' instead of 'wasn't'. (e.g. 'Weren't I?')
- Another Lancashire feature is the 'reduction' of 'the' to a sound spelled t', which is actually a glottal stop [ʔ]. So something like 'we're going to the park' becomes [wɜːgoːntəʔpɑːk]. I don't do this though; it's not present this far west. I have a friend from Newton-le-Willows who does it though; he also reduces 'make' and 'take' to 'meck' and 'teck'.
- Traditionally in Lancashire and Scouse, words ending in 'ook' would be pronounced with the same vowel [u] as in 'food' rather than the vowel [ʊ] of 'foot', 'put'. This is dying out in Scouse at least. My mum and her grandparents have this feature, but my dad and his grandparents don't; so I sort of eratically use one pronunciation or the other.
- Very traditional Lancashire dialects would use 'thou' and 'thee' as second-person informal pronouns, like Shakespeare did; in the south, this is today confined to a few areas like Wigan. I don't use them.
- Vowel length: is more distinctive in my dialect than in most; e.g. in America vowel length is completely non-distinctive, and in southern England all vowels are lengthened before voiced consonants, except /ɑː ɔː ɜː/ which are always long. /ɑː ɔː ɜː/ (vowels of palm, caught, sir) are always long for me too, and distinguished more by this length than the quality. In fact my /ɒ/ sound (in 'cot') is possibly /ɑ/--there's very little rounding in it, so it is only distinguished from /ɑː/ by length. In stronger accents, you might find people with /aː/ for /ɑː/ and /ɛː/ for /ɜː/, which would then be another pure contrast of length. So most of my other vowels are always short. The only ones that might be lengthened are /i u ai au/ (seed, soon, spite, out) which are lengthened before voiced consonants, and /ai au/ are also lengthened when word-final.
- In most English dialects, fortis stops /p t k/ become strongly aspirated [pʰ tʰ kʰ] at the start of a word, more weakly aspirated between vowels, and not aspirated at all after other consonants or at the end of a word. However, in Scouse, our stops are very strongly aspirated at the end of words; it's just as strong there as at the start of a word; except for /p/, which is nonetheless still weakly aspirated. It's hard to keep this up in quick speech, so Scousers tend to weaken final and medial [tʰ kʰ] to fricatives [θ x] (and that's an alveolar [θ], not a dental one as in Standard English 'thin'). I don't do this fully, only with [t] commonly. Scousers also might turn initial [tʰ kʰ] into affricates [tθ kx]; again I only do this with [t].

Oh, and:
- /tj dj/ have become /tʃ dʒ/; so 'tube' sounds like 'choob', 'stupid' sounds like 'schoopid', and 'due' is a homophone with 'Jew'. /sj zj/ are always /ʃ ʒ/ before unstressed vowels, and most of the time before stressed vowels, but they have been simplified to /s z/ in a few words (e.g. 'suit', 'sue', 'sewers'--I don't know any examples with /z/). /lj/ is always simplified to /l/.
- Like all non-Americans as far as I know, I have no Mary-merry-marry merger (/mɜːri/, /mɛri/, /mari/), no cot-caught merger (/kɒt/, /kɔːt/), no father-bother merger (/fɑːvə/, /bɒvə/).
- There is no /ŋ/ phoneme in my speech, only an allophone of /n/ before /k/ or /g/ [ŋ]. Final 'ng' is always pronounced as [ŋg], not [ŋ]. So 'singer' rhymes with 'finger'.
- The letter H begins with a [h]. This is common in Ireland, and was probably brought to Liverpool by Irish immigrants. It's what I was taught in school, and it was a great surprise for me to learn that it's supposed to be [eitʃ].
- Any /i ai ei ɔi/ before /l/ becomes /ɪə aiə eiə ɔiə/, and /iə/ is subject to further changes as detailed below. So 'peel' has two syllables.
- RP /ɪə/, in 'dear', 'seer', is always a two-syllable /iə/ in stressed syllables. In unstressed syllables it's smoothed to /ɜː/ (really [rɜːli]).
- I'm really not sure whether I merge unstressed /ɪ/ and /ə/. I'm quite sure <eatin'> and <eaten> are not merged, but <Rosa's>, <roses> definitely are. And apparently 'orange' is supposed to be [ɒrɪndʒ], but I think I say [ɒrəndʒ]. Generally where <i> is actually spelt in an unstressed syllable, I seem to have /ɪ/.
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Re: Regional Dialect and Idiolect Oddities (pronunciation)

Postby Iulus Cofield » Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:30 pm UTC

I've noticed something odd on the phone recently.

People around here (PNW) add [m] to the beginning of /bye/ at the end of a phone conversation.
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