Date: Wed, 8 Mar 1995 08:39:32 -0500

From: "William A. Kretzschmar, Jr." billk[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ATLAS.UGA.EDU

Subject: Naturalness

Dennis Preston asks what I have against naturalness. I wear ties; Dinnis

does not. Ties are natural for me; they are not for Dinnis. I don't

understand why Dinnis should be allowed to tell me whether ties are

natural or not; I also don't understand why I should be allowed to tell

Dinnis that "Dinnis" is unnatural and that "Dennis" is the natural thing:).

If naturalness is taken to mean "less energy in articulation", then

people should *say* "less energy in articulation", because some speech

sounds seem perfectly natural for their speakers and at the same time

require lots of energy in articulation.

The general problem with explanations for change like "naturalness" or

"analogy" (I could make an argument similar to ties and T-shirts for

that one, too) is that they are too powerful. I don't think we gain much

by saying, "Hey, that pronunciation seems more natural to me" or "Hey,

that form looks like the other ones in a paradigm". I would rather try

to find explanations for change that were better at predicting (even ex

post facto) why some eligible forms change and some don't.

I find this a fascinating point for discussion, especially since I've

been doing Labov's new book on change and Milroy's *Linguistic Variation

and Change* with my variation classes this quarter.

Regards, Bill


Bill Kretzschmar Phone: 706-542-2246

Dept. of English FAX: 706-542-2181

University of Georgia Internet: billk[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Athens, GA 30602-6205 Bitnet: wakjengl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uga