Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1993 11:29:04 -0500


Subject: Re: Sounding Northern

Daniel S. Goodman's 'hillbilly' friend who discovered that he sounds

unmarked when he puts on a Canadian accent corroborates a contention

of mine. Once when I lectured in England I made the outrageous claim

that my CE accent pretty well preserved English as it was intended to

be spoken. (Instead of objecting, the students dutifully wrote that

down, and I had to tell them I was kidding.) The serious side was to

point out that the ME vowels had kept their features in CE: the tense

vowels are all diphthongs, and the lax vowels are all lax, and all but

one of the spaces in the vowel triangle are still filled. (The CAUGHT,

PAW, AWFUL vowel has merged with COT, OFFAL.) In "The three dialects

of English," Bill Labov seems to regard this kind of neatness

suspiciously. CE belongs to the third dialect, and Bill writes,

"Neutralized speakers of English, whose local patterns are blurred or

hypercorrected, might be considered a 'third dialect'....They are

effectively isolated from the mainstream of the history of English and

have little influence on future developments" (p. 30). So Daniel S.

Goodman's friend is paying a price--in Bill's metaphor, spaying himself.

Jack Chambers