Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 11:37:54 -0400


Subject: Re: come with

The uhr/ohr and ihr/ehr (or ihl/ehl, as Lex noted it) mergers are a

very common pattern in English phonological change which Bill Labov

has written about, among others (Labov Yaeger & Steiner 1972 has lots

of charts showing it, and Labov 1994 "Princ. of Ling. Change" updates

this line of research). ihr/ehr occurs in a variety of dialects of

English from Norwich, England to the SW US, eg Albuquerque and NYC,

but is generally a near-merger rather than a true merger. Labov's

Principle II of chain-shifting governs both: lax nuclei fall along a

non-peripheral track, i.e. here the Ihr and Uhr are lax and begin to

fall towards Ehr and Ohr respectively, resulting in apparent merger in

perception, though not generally in production (in casual speech). So

this is a general pattern that applies to Western Us dialects as well

as others, but not a lexical or L.A.-specific one. (Dennis P. or

others will surely correct me if I've got it wrong!)

--peter patrick

georgetown u.

linguistics dept.