Date: Tue, 27 Jan 1998 15:42:00 -0600 From: "Donald M. Lance" Subject: Re: Phonetic transcription--help >On Tue, 27 Jan 1998, Alan Baragona wrote: >> I have a student with a Texas >> accent who, like many Southerners and Westerners, simplifies the >> diphthong [ai] (among others). But I can't really transcribe her vowel >> as either [a] or [ae]. Her pronunciation of is not a homophone >> of either [lak] or [laek] but is pretty much smack in the >> middle, as if she stops in the middle of the glide or rather sets her >> mouth to say the glide but holds the pure vowel. I don't really know how >> to transcribe her without an approximation that doesn't do her >> justice and can potentially confuse the class. On Tue, 27 Jan 1998, Garland Bills wrote: > As a native speaker of that same (standard, of course) dialect, it >seems to me your characterization is quite accurate. The IPA symbols for >the three vowels in our dialect are [ae] for , [a] for , and >"script a" for which I'll use [[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]] for . In articulatory terms, >probably the simplist (and not really too oversimplified) description is >that all three are low vowels in front, central, and back positions >respectively. Phoneticians will probably make our lives more complicated >than this -- right, Don Lance? You bet, Garland. For some speakers the vowel of 'pot' is low central, so the vowel of 'like' would be, in their speech, either a fronted low central vowel or retracted low front vowel, the former being the more logical description. This particular situation was discussed in a number of sources in the 1950s, as I recall. If one's 'pot' vowel is low back, then Garland's description is fine. The echo of his phonology in my head tells me he has accurately described his own speech. Roger Lass (Phonology..., Cambridge UP, 1984, p. 137) points out that in historical descriptions it appears that as the Middle English long vowels underwent the Great Vowel Shift they left the (monophthongal) phonemic system, but some structuralist discussions of "phonemic contrasts" seemed to treat the Southern U. S. monophthongized "long i" as if this [a] had somehow re-entered the system of English phonemes. Phoneticians don't make people's lives more complicated; stubborn phonetic facts do that. DMLance