Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 12:42:27 CST
From: "Donald M. Lance" ENGDL[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU
Subject: Re: folk/folklore
As a native speaker of (a variety of) South Midland, Dennis P, I want
say that there's a lot of clutter in the distribution of ModE
realizations of the old "short o" spelled o. Like you, I use "aw" in
log, fog, dog, hog, frog. And, only partially like you, I use "aw" in
bog and togs but [a] in cog. 'Bog' and 'togs' are later-learned items
for me, but 'cog' has been in my phonological system, since childhood.
I also, like many but not all other South Midlanders, say 'or' like
'are' rather than like 'ore'/'oar'. It's interesting to look at the
pronunciations of frost, log, dog, water, daughter, law, forty, morning corn,
horse in PEAS. There are a few other "short o" words that I say with [a],
but can't think of them at the moment.
Another "unstable" set of words that's interesting in current sound changes
is the U/o sounds in word like 'poor'. Missouri students have a mid-central
unrounded retroflex vowel in words that historically had "short u" (e.g.,
'sure', 'Missouri') because they no longer have a high back lax vowel before
/r/. But if their mothers or teachers ever said [U] in 'poor', these
young Missourians did not centralize it along with the vowel in 'sure'. They
say [por], which we were taught back in dark mid-twentieth-century was wrong.
I bought my teachers' argument, especialy since the preceding generation
in the family said [pUr].
Back to the original point raised by Wayne Glowka's posting. I think we
acquire our pronunciations through a combination of (auditory) linguistic
environment and print. The rules Dennis alluded to are part of the package
too. And other rules too. I can say the -l- in 'yolk-like' much more
easily than I can in 'yolk', structuralists' deprecations of "ease of
articulation" notwithstanding. DMLance