Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 11:41:11 -0500
From: "David A. Johns" daj000[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]FOX.WAY.PEACHNET.EDU
Subject: Re: Florida l-lessness
I was somewhat surprised by his observation that younger Floridians
don't have the cot/caught distinction because my observations, as well as
the results of my direct questions about that pair of words, suggest that
they do, at least in this part of the state. Those who don't usually are
recent arrivals to the area. By the way, I live in Panama City, FL.
Let me draw a more comprehensive -- although still completely
impressionistic -- map.
First, I have heard the typically southern rising diphthong [aw] in
CAUGHT, etc., only from the Panhandle. There seems to be an isogloss
that roughly follows the Florida-Georgia line west from Jacksonville
and cuts south somewhere past Tallahassee. Right now I know a 60-ish
man from Mariana who has it and a 40-ish woman from Tallahassee who
has a falling diphthong (next paragraph).
Older speakers in roughly the northern half of the peninsula have a
"standard" [O] (i.e., low back slightly rounded) tending toward a New
Yorkish falling diphthong ([O- schwa ]). I know two women, one about
40 from Fernandina Beach (north of Jacksonville) and one about 50
from Ocala, who have the falling diphthong. If I remember correctly,
some of the speakers in recent TV interviews about the Rosewood
massacre (they'd be in at least their late 70s now) also had this
vowel; I'm sure none of them had [aw], which suggests that [aw] never
spread that far south (near Tampa).
Younger people from the entire peninsula, whether speakers of a
mainly southern variety or one of the more northern accents of the
cities, have a low central-to-back unrounded vowel in both the COT
words and the CAUGHT words.
This "map" is nothing but a compilation of eleven years of listening
to undergraduates and others at UF in Gainesville, plus a certain
amount of traveling around the area. It would certainly be
interesting to see a formal study of Florida accents, which seem to
be changing in both geographical and social dimensions.