Date: Thu, 17 Feb 1994 12:18:37 -0500
From: "J. Chambers" chambers[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]EPAS.UTORONTO.CA
Subject: Re: [u]/[ju]
Thanks for asking. My database has pretty stuff on [u]/[ju] in the
Golden Horseshoe, the 250km strip around the western tip of Lake
Ontario that includes Oshawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara Falls and
points between, where about one-sixth of Canada's population live.
The data generally show that [ju] is declining. That's no surprise,
because it is in England, the US (except the South?), and probably
evertywhere else where English is spoken.
But it's not a simple decline. There are 3 different categories of
1. avenue (and other /ju/-final words like retinue, revenue) show only
a very mild (possibly insignificant) decrease across the age groups:
88% of over 80s have [ju], 91% of 30-39 yr-olds do too, and the line
is flat in between them. Then a slight dip: 84% of 20-29s, and 77% of
14-19s. This is very different from the young Americans immediately
across the border in Niagara (Buffalo, Tonawanda, etc.): there only
37% and 31% of 14-19s and 20-29s have [ju].
2. coupon appears to be idiosyncratic. I get a bimodal distribution:
The youngest groups, from 14 to 49 have a flat line at around 30%
[ju], and the older folks, from 50-79 have a flat line around 54%.
(The over 80s dip down to 35%, and I don't know why.) Incidentally,
I've never seen a distribution like this for any other item.
3. student, news (and other /ju/-medial words) show a regular decline
in [ju] across the ages, as expected. The lines for the two words are
very similar, with student having marginally more [ju]-users than
news, but the general incline goes from about 10% in 14-19s steadily
to 41% for over 80s for news, and just a bit wobbly for student. The
youngest groups are beautifully intertwined: 20-29s at 15%, 30-39s at
20%, 40-49s at 25-27%.
So when we talk about [ju] being replaced by [u], it's clearly only
happening systematically to medial /ju/ in Canada.
Incidetnally, Sandra Clarke has a nice article on this called "The
Americanization of Canadian pronunciation: a survey of palatal glide
usage," in her book Focus on Canada, in the Benjamins series Varieties
of English Around the World, 85-108. Her survey doesn';t include my GH
data (because she wrote it before I had it). There are some good
articles in the book besides Sandra's. She's a good editor too.
By the way, if anyone wants to see the graphic representation of my
/ju/ data, it's available.