Date: Wed, 28 Jan 1998 17:51:00 CST From: "Breland, Mary" Subject: Re: Phonetic transcription--help The vowel Alan Baragona described sounds to me like one I have in my phonological system as a result of growing up in Mississippi. In my family, we referred to it as "flat-I" and used it as a shibboleth to distinguish between TV characters who were "real Southerners" and those who were "fake ." When I was learning IPA transcription (using a book by Pyles and Algeo) I was quite frustrated by the absence of a symbol to represent the sound I produced. I have both the diphthong [ai] and "flat-I" in my speech. The diphthong occurs before voiceless consonants in words such as "light" [lait], "wife" [waif], "rice" [rais], etc.; flat-I occurs before voiced consonants and in open syllables "lied," "hive," "rise," etc. I couldn't figure out a way to represent both sounds in transcribing my own speech. The closest representation I could come up with was [a:] to represent a lengthened monophthong, but I was not happy with it because it seemed to indicate something lower and farther back than what I believed I produced. I spent a good bit of time with my fingers in my mouth trying to find out what was going on in there. I decided, finally, that we had come up with the name "flat-I" because the tongue is held still and "flat," almost level or straight rather than raised or lowered very much like the mid-central lax vowel "uh" represented by a schwa but the mouth is more open than for "uh. " But there's more to it than tongue position; the lips are involved, also. The corners of the mouth, particularly the lower lip, are tensed and pulled out to the sides and slightly up as for [ae] and [i]. I finally settled on using an "upside-down a" to represent an open mid-central spread vowel.