Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 11:41:11 -0500


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.

David Johns

Waycross College

Waycross, GA