Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 18:59:47 -0700


Subject: Re: name's the same

I sympathize with Lisa Pogoff, though she must never have taken a course

dealing with varieties of American English. This vowel merger is surely

one of the most dysfunctional in Modern English, and it behooves those of

us who make it to try to rescue the language from this pell-mell (pall-mall?)

rush to destruction. [Pardon the ambiguity -- the second "it" should read

"this distinction".]

Speaking of ambiguity, Bethany, did your students have trouble with

"Don" vs. "Dawn" because you did not make the distinction or because they

didn't? Several years ago my wife hired a new secretary, and told me the

person's name was /dan/ (Muriel is from California, BTW), which I naturally

interpreted as "Don", and was puzzled because I had understood she was

interviewing a female for the job, and asked for a confirmation of this. When

it was given, my reaction was that it was the first time I had heard of a

woman named "Don". After some further confused interaction, she clarified that

the name was "Dawn". It's too bad we can't get in our time machine and go

back and straighten out that first child who failed to hear the distinction.

--Rudy Troike (rtroike[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]