Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 11:44:13 -0600
From: "Donald M. Lance" engdl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU
Subject: Re: New York vowels
Interesting posting from Barry Popik. A journalist reporting on a
presentation to the Acoustical Society of America!!?? Well,....
The University of Missouri boasts of the first (true) and best (I really
don't know) school of journalism in the world. MU J-students
systematically avoid both linguistics and cliches like the plague. So the
Metro Gnome who wrote the cutsie NYPost piece on New Yawk vowels is in good
I'm not even mildly tempted to comment on most of the piece, but one item
piqued my curiosity. Or should I say peaked or peeked?
Linguists have long marveled at how New Yorkers add extra sounds--called
back vowels--into words like "talk" or "dog," which we pronounce "tawahk" and
In the so-called Standard American English, those words are pronounced
with a single vowel sound, "ah" (as in "tahk") and "aw" (as in "dawg").
Being an unrepentant speaker of a version of South Midland American, I've
often wondered whether people who "tahk" (considered "standard" by Metro
Gnome) also tick.
An examination of 'talk' and 'dog' in PEAS is an interesting exercise. I
don't think I'll suggest that Metro Gnome waste any of his (Gersh Kuntzman,
I assume is a male name) valuabe time or synaptic energy by looking into a
few "facts," but a good exercise for linguistics students is an examination
of the entire set of low back vowels as they vary throughout the Atlantic
States. PEAS = The Pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States, by
Hans Kurath and Raven I. McDavid, University of Michigan Press, 1961.
Does "marveled" accurately characterize what Bill Labov has been doing for
more than a generation, apparently with little notice taken by gnomish
practitioners of journalistic cutsieness?