Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 00:09:12 -0500
From: ALICE FABER faber[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: Sulking Over Silky Milk etc
Garland D. Bills writes:
Peter McGraw: Be amazed! I consistently say [mik], though with a back
off-glide in my casual speech. I bet Dennis Preston, Bethany Dumas, and
many others do too.
I'll bet you're right. I have only anecdotal evidence for this, but...back
when the whole notion of external evidence in phonology was a new and wondrous
thing, a classmate of mine in grad school had one of those day care disasters
that required him to bring his son in to campus and rely on a host of
volunteer babysitters. The son at the time was 5 or 6, right at that age of
invented spellings that Charles Read has written about extensively. For most
of the afternoon, we had this kid standing on a chair in front of a blackboard
writing words while we tried not to ooh and ah too audibly. When we asked him
to write "milk", he very confidently wrote MUK.
I don't have any actual acoustic data to supplement this, but Marianna Di
Paolo and I have tons of data for PILL and HILL, PEEL and HEEL. Even in these
words, with no following C to trigger "deletion" of /l/, a true phonetic [l]
nonetheless is quite rare. It's much more common, for our Utah speakers, and,
to a lesser extent, for our Northeastern speakers, to have the same strong
offglide that Garland reports for MILK.