Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 12:42:27 CST


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