Have You Noticed?

A very interesting Quora thread is Have you noticed any change in your native language? The top answer at the moment is from Jose Geraldo Gouvea:

Yes. When I was a kid it was still common to hear ‘standard Brazilian Portuguese’ on radio and television. It was neutral pronunciation, which eschewed the most notable regional features and emphasised on whatever was more widespread or not notably regional. Singers, radio announcers, television hosts, actors, everyone seemed to strive to speak like that. Then, in less than a decade (from 1981–1991) every trace of ‘standard Brazilian Portuguese’ disappeared from mass media. The ‘r’ was not trilled any more (almost like in Spanish), it was softened. People didn’t shy from hissing their final ‘s’ (if they were from Rio) or pronouncing retroflex ‘r’ (if they were from São Paulo). Regional accents ceased to be considered ‘low class’ and suddenly became acceptable, especially Rio and São Paulo dialects (from the cities where most films and television shows are produced). People who still spoke ‘standard’ suddenly sounded ‘funny’. A lot of old pop music became ‘fun’ to hear (it is now considered quaint and ‘bookish’ to hear an old samba sung in standard, because people assume samba, being from Rio, should be sung in carioca dialect). People like me, who didn’t watch much television any more (because I was working 9 to 6 and studying at night) suddenly lost contact with that (because in everyday life we always spoke our dialect, of course) and now sounded ‘funny’ too. Since old habits die hard, people like me, who once strived to forget the dialect and embrace standard are now seen as weirdos. People often comment on my accent that it is ‘good’, which sometimes sounds as an irony, or bewildered praising.

There are a number of answers about Russian, e.g., “a Russian-speaker from Ukraine doensn’t know that there exists a Russian word akimat which is very widely used in Kazakhstan. A Russian speaker from Kazakhstan will not understand the word nardep which is very common in Ukraine.[…] Russian-speakers of Ukraine have invented words like деловодство (делопроизводство in standard Russian) and милозвучность (благозвучие in standard Russian). Those words are never used outside Ukraine” and “With the breakdown of the USSR we also used our last available option of neutral polite address (товарищ).” There are reports about German, Norwegian, Chinese, Turkish, Bengali, Cebuano, and others; it’s fascinating stuff. Thanks, JC!

Comments

  1. It would be good to have a translation for these Russian words.

  2. At one point during the impeachment of President Clinton (1998-99), Representative Henry Hyde (1924-2007) began his round of questions by asking the stenographer, “How much time have I?” Almost twenty years later, I still remember the moment.

    Representative Hyde had a reputation as a florid performer of old-fashioned oratory, but that inverted interrogative without an auxiliary (“have I” rather than American “do I have” or British “have I got”) struck me as not just old-fashioned but anachronistic, especially because the context was informal. As I thought about it, I began remembering that both of my parents, who were born in different parts of the United States during the first decade of the twentieth century, occasionally used to ask questions in that way. I also think I may have heard the usage in 1930s movies.

    But in 1999, no. There’s a change for you.

  3. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    “How much time have I?”

    That sounds quite ordinary to me!

    Having lived outside the the UK for more than 30 years now, and despite speaking English every day with my wife (whose native language is Spanish) I find that English in England has changed a lot. My pronunciation is a fossil from the 1980s, and hardly anyone speaks like that today. The consonants haven’t changed much, as far as I’ve noticed, though maybe glo’u sto’s are a bit more common. On the other hand the vowels have changed a great deal.

    The younger members of the Royal Family speak as if they grew up in Essex. The Queen doesn’t, but her accent has also evolved.

  4. > American “do I have” or British “have I got”

    I’ve read or heard this before but never quite understood it. Google Ngrams (although there’s noise) gives lots of examples of both British “do I have” and American “have I got”. Are there specific contexts where this is more than just a tendency?

  5. des von bladet says:

    You can miss a lot, as Yogi Berra poignantly remarked, by not noticing.

  6. David Marjanović says:

    Are there specific contexts where this is more than just a tendency?

    I don’t think so, but it’s definitely a strong tendency.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    Most of the changes to German described in that thread are distributed in space more than in time. Also, Eiskasten for “fridge” seems to be alive and well in Vienna.

    On the Austrian TV news, I’ve noticed Viennese monophthongizations showing up in the last 20 or 25 years (au, ei, eu [ɒ ɛ̞ ɶ̝]), no doubt due to the fact that practically all younger Viennese now natively speak meso- instead of dialect and have greater trouble distinguishing that from the standard. Conversely, for a few years newscasters tried to import [z]; after many failures and a bunch of hypercorrections (including sporadic extension to /ʃ/ as [ʒ]), this seems to have been abandoned.

    Serbian: no mention of the “[æ] b[æ]ogradski”?

  8. speedwell says:

    Any changes I have noticed in my native language (Standard American English) have been completely overwhelmed by listening to the immigrant members of my extended family and by moving within the US to several dialect regions. That is why my native language is SAE: I seem to have adopted it from TV.

    Even worse was listening to my husband pronounce, over the six years I have known him, sentences like Aye then, I’ll just take a wee dander for a packet of fags… I’m scunnered with yer wan; she’s up her own hole. When we met in person after having met online, I understood about four out of every ten words the man spoke.

  9. Trond Engen says:

    David M.: Serbian: no mention of the “[æ] b[æ]ogradski”?

    Ækavian?

    I didn’t read all the way through, so there may have been more than one answer about Norwegian, but the one I saw was very good on Eastern Norwegian.

  10. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    “Russian-speakers of Ukraine have invented words like […] and милозвучность (благозвучие in standard Russian). Those words are never used outside Ukraine”

    Hah, milozvučnost/милозвучност exists in BCS.

    Anyway, Belgrade features are certainly more common in Serbian newsreaders’ speech now compared to 30 years ago, but I don’t see that as language change really.

  11. David Marjanović says:

    Forgot to mention that the invisible allative & locative really is a new feature in German, and clearly to blame on Turkish; it’s found in big cities and mainly used to talk about public transport.

    Ækavian?

    That would be misleading; *ě remains [æ] only somewhere in southwestern Bulgaria. I’m talking about the whole merged ekavian /ɛ/ (*ě, *e, *ę) opening up.

  12. I’ve always thought (and not being a native speaker of Russian and not even ever having set foot in Russia, I’m probably wrong) that the im’a ochestvo form of address (formal given name + patronymic) was somewhat equivalent to Mr./Mrs/Ms as a polite form. Is that still in use? It was maintained through the Soviet period, if I’m not mistaken.

  13. “the invisible allative & locative really is a new feature in German”

    Could you give an example? Thanks!

  14. @ Bill W: First plus father’s name still are usual, the problem is that there is no convenient address to be used before you get to that stage of (respectful) familiarity*) and are still at the stage where you want to use some form of address that goes with the last name. Tovarishch fell out of use, grazhdanin is what the police call you (or used to call you, I don’t know whether they still do) when you’re in trouble, gospodin sounds pretentious and / or comical, and the same goes even more for pre-revolutionary titles like barin, sudarin, etc.
    *) That said, my impression is that first name and formal vy instead of vy plus first and father’s name has become much more frequent in the last 20 years, especially between people of similar age and status.

  15. “Invisible allative”: I assume David refers to the instances of dropping prepositions mentioned in the Quora thread (“Ich gehe Supermarkt” instead of “Ich gehe zum Supermarkt”). I must admit that I haven’t noticed that as an ordinary feature of colloquial German, only as comedic aping of “immigrant talk”. What I have seen is using of “nach” instead of “zu”, e.g. “ich gehe nach Aldi” instead of “ich gehe zu Aldi”, but whether that’s the fault of immigrants or just dialect / native non-standard usage spreading I don’t know.

  16. Re: BCS, it was always quite varied and polycentric, but one big and very noticeable recent change is in the Serb part of Bosnia, where they switched to the ekavian variety of BCS but kept the same pronunciation and accent. The result is roughly analogous to someone with a Texan accent using British vocabulary and expressions.

  17. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    @nemanja Interesting, my mom, who grew up in Bosnia back in the 1950s and 1960s (in a town where Serbs were a minority even back then), says people in the Federation part of Bosnia are now using way more ‘Croatian’ words. That’s to say, from her perspective, the change in the vocabulary, if anything, has gone in the opposite direction.

    @David Marjanović:
    ” I’m talking about the whole merged ekavian /ɛ/ (*ě, *e, *ę) opening up.”

    This is not quite true. Namely, there is a noticeable difference between long and short /e/s in Belgrade, and similar is true of /o/ only to a slightly lesser degree (the long ones being markedly closer in each case). That said, it’s definitely not a new thing, as my impression is the most consistently open short /o/s for example are found in middle class women born in the 1960s.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    Yes, I mean the dropping of prepositions. I’ve mentioned a Viennese mesolect example before: Fahrts ihr Ankara oder fahrts ihr Istanbul? The same phenomenon was reported a few decades earlier from places in the northern contiguous US with lots of descendants of Finnish immigrants.

    Vienna is much less ghettoized than Berlin for example, so a separate immigrant sociolect has not formed there.

    Nach with names that otherwise have an article, like names of supermarkets, is a regional thing somewhere in Germany, as far as I can tell. I don’t think I’ve encountered it in the wild. But then, I haven’t encountered zu Aldi either, only zum with the article.

  19. Regarding ækavian: the current prime minister of serbia is an example of the usage. Her “o” is also weird, almost like “u” or like a “uo” diphthong. Her vowels are all over the place. Is this some sort of post-yugoslav belgrade slang or a genuine example of language change?!?

  20. “That would be misleading; *ě remains [æ] only somewhere in southwestern Bulgaria.”

    That is correct, it remained [æ] in my native dialect.

  21. Andrej, I think your mom and I are observing the same thing, an increasing divergence of accent based on nationality (to mirror the physical segregation of a once mixed population). I’ve noticed this in Montenegro as well.

    But whereas in BG you hear “mléko” in RS you might her “mlȇko”, or in reality “mlEEEEko”, and it sounds faintly hilarious to my ears.

  22. the same goes even more for pre-revolutionary titles like barin, sudarin, etc.

    Man, it would be delightful (in a retrograde and socially unfortunate way) if Russians returned to using the slovo-ers and sudar’, referring to high-class people in the plural, etc. Nineteenth-century literature would come alive!

  23. nemanja: in my SW Bulgarian dialect běgaj (imperative “run” or “go away”) is [‘bægɐj].

  24. Stu Clayton says:

    I haven’t encountered zu Aldi either, only zum with the article.

    In Cologne, “ich gehe zum Aldi/Lidl…” is standard vernacular. To raise yourself slightly above this level, you say “ich gehe zu Aldi/Lidl”. Actually you don’t, because slightly superior folks don’t go to Aldi or Lidl.

  25. Stu Clayton: in which part of Cologne did you encounter that? I only spent two weeks in Ehrenfeld this summer but I did not encounter that.

  26. Stu Clayton says:

    V: everywhere, including Ehrenfeld where I live ! You hear it a lot from older people of unprepossessing upbringing. Having spent only two weeks in Ehrenfeld, perhaps you associated with more refined folks ? What is there to do in Ehrenfeld ? Actually there’s a large Jewish social center (or something like that) and school about a 10 minute walk from my house. I know nothing about it except that it is well-ramparted and a police car sits outside 24/7. I don’t socialize any more, otherwise I would have investigated further. I found out by accident that it was there when walking the dog once in the middle of the night.

    The point of this meandering tale is that what you hear and see, or don’t, can be very different for people who live in a city (and are inquisitive and attentive, or not) as contrasted with people who go there for a special purpose (such as a rock festival or a visit by Erdogan, viz. last weekend).

  27. David Marjanović says:

    Oh, something else from the comments to the Quora post: weil (“because”) with both word orders (verb-second and verb-last). In the standard, weil goes with verb-last order, and its exact synonym denn goes with verb-second order (weil es so ist = denn es ist so = “because that’s how it is”). My dialect, and no doubt countless others, lacks denn – and weil fills the gap by occurring with both word orders. That also holds for Viennese mesolect, and I bet for most or all other mesolects, too.

  28. Stu Clayton:
    I went to Koeln to visit a friend, and I stayed at her place in Ehrenfeld. Really nice neighbourhood. I have another friend who lives there. Nice places in Ehrenfeld? The cinema next to the water tower, the cocktail bar on Venloer str, the park across the street. Southeast of Verloener Strasse Guertel on the U-bahn.

  29. Stu Clayton says:

    V: huh, I didn’t know that squat building now in the park used to be a water tower, but there it is in the WiPe with a picture. I will investigate in what sense it was a “water tower”, since I know these only as large reservoirs on stilts.

    You mention a park southeast of Venloer/Gürtel. Maybe you refer to the giant park-like Melaten Cemetery ? Cologne is full of parks and “woods” (Stadtwald) that make it pleasant.

  30. > weil (“because”) with both word orders (verb-second and verb-last). In the standard, weil goes with verb-last order, and its exact synonym

    We discussed coordinating and subordinating “because”s here:

    http://languagehat.com/for-for-or-against/

    > weil fills the gap by occurring with both word orders

    Call me a nitpicker, but if “weil” occurs with both word orders instead of “denn” just falling away, that strongly suggests to me that they’re not in fact exact synonyms. I certainly feel like I need both “for” and “fordi” in Danish.

  31. Stu Clayton says:

    To my mind, “Ian” at that link puts it well (in the present context think “denn” instead of “for”):

    # To my ear, “for” as a coordinating conjunction de-emphasizes causality and therefore has a hint of correlation or synchronicity, even though the underlying relationship is a causal one. A hint of correlation may be technically inaccurate, as in the example that got LH’s goat, but using “for” is more about flavor than the literalism of a subordinating “because”.#

  32. “Man, it would be delightful (in a retrograde and socially unfortunate way) if Russians returned to using the slovo-ers and sudar’, referring to high-class people in the plural, etc.”

    And of course it would be nice to once again hear someone addressed as vashe vysokoprevoskhoditel’stvo.

    Hans, thanks for your responses to my questions.

  33. My acquisition of American English has been slow but steady since the radio shows of the forties and fifties. Let me back up and interject that I’m a BC Canuck (which originally refered to French Canadians–remember the Mark Trail cómic strip?). But recently I’ve been hearing Canadian millenials talk: almost thoroughly Americanized by tv. When I tell them the differences they are quite astonished. Don’t ask for any examples right now. The two glasses of red wine I had with my curry dinner have jumbled my mind. I’m a sucker for multiculturalism. I’m a new fan of the Zen Moses novels: Chandler and Hammett would be astonished.

  34. “Have you noticed”:
    For Australian English we have the development of the wog accent as spoken on TV shows such as Acropolis Now, Fat Pizza and Swift and Shift. In Melbourne, there are two interesting language changes going on. One is the development of an upper class “Prue & Tru” accent as parodied on the TV show Kath and Kim. The other is the salary/celery merger, which results in the capital city of Victoria being called “Malbourne” by the younger locals.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    Call me a nitpicker, but if “weil” occurs with both word orders instead of “denn” just falling away, that strongly suggests to me that they’re not in fact exact synonyms.

    In the standard, it feels obvious to me – for whatever that’s worth – that the choice of conjunction determines the word order of the following clause, not the other way around. In the dialect, I’m trying to figure out if anything determines the choice of word orders, and so far I’m drawing a blank… it really seems to be free variation with this one conjunction and no others.

  36. David Marjanović says:

    But recently I’ve been hearing Canadian millenials talk: almost thoroughly Americanized by tv.

    Canadian Raising, however, is if anything spreading into the US.

  37. But recently I’ve been hearing Canadian millenials talk: almost thoroughly Americanized by tv. When I tell them the differences they are quite astonished.

    I’m gonna call bull on this. I just moved to Vancouver last year after years of living in San Francisco, and I work in tech with lots of young people. There is a very pronounced difference especially in pronunciation (eg. the prototypical “house” which is “howse” in Canada but “haus” in the US, even just 100 miles away in Seattle) and lots of vocabulary is CDN specific – esp with influences from foreign languages which CDNs speak at a far greater rate than Americans. If the take the most famous Canadian Millennial – Drake – you can hear in his interviews that he sounds quite different than his American peers and this is frequently commented upon.

    No doubt CDN Millennians talk differently than you do, but they are not thoroughly Americanized, and in fact given the overwhelmingly negative views of the United States that currently prevail among Canadian youth we can expect the trends to continue in the direction of an even more distinct CDN Englsih.

    Don’t ask for any examples right now. The two glasses of red wine I had with my curry dinner have jumbled my mind

    Lmao indeed.

  38. marie-lucie says:

    Canadian Raising

    This phrase was coined by American linguists who thought the phenomenon was an innovation by English Canadians. In fact it is a retention from (I think) a Scotch pronunciation.

    But it is possible that the Canadian pronunciation, while still distinctive, is getting closer to the American one: hearing an intermediate sound, Canadian Iakon hears “American”, while American nemanja hears “Canadian”. Years ago when I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast, I remember a radio announcer who pronounced “South” as if “Soath”, but I have not heard that in a long time.

  39. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    “In fact it is a retention from (I think) a Scotch pronunciation.”

    AFAIK the jury is still very much out on that one.

  40. marie-lucie says:

    AB: There was a strong contingent of immigrants from Scotland in early Canada.

  41. David Marjanović says:

    I’ve encountered the term un-Canadian lowering.

    FACE as [e] and GOAT as [o], both widespread in Canada, could likewise be straight from Scots. But then, these pronunciations are also found in the northern US, where they could be a Scandihoovian feature.

    However, the Canadian pronunciation of sorry with FORCE appears to be an innovation. Perhaps it’s really a reanalysis as “sore-y”.

  42. marie-lucie says:

    David M: the Canadian pronunciation of sorry with FORCE appears to be an innovation. Perhaps it’s really a reanalysis as “sore-y”.

    Where have you heard that “innovation”? Canadians are supposed to say sorry all the time, and it is not as if I am not familiar with it. I am not sure what word I would compare it with, but the vowel I hear just about every day is lower/more open than that of FORCE or “sore-y”.

  43. gwenllian says:

    Andrej, I think your mom and I are observing the same thing, an increasing divergence of accent based on nationality (to mirror the physical segregation of a once mixed population). I’ve noticed this in Montenegro as well.

    But whereas in BG you hear “mléko” in RS you might her “mlȇko”, or in reality “mlEEEEko”, and it sounds faintly hilarious to my ears.

    It hasn’t really been my impression that Bosnian Serbs have been switching to ekavian, least of all in the spoken language. My experience is limited, though, and I don’t know anything about what the situation is among younger generations. Is ekavian encouraged or enforced in schools in RS? It’d be a great pity if that was happening. I’ve always envied the Serbian standard’s acceptance of two pronunciations.

  44. David Marjanović says:

    I once read, quite possibly here, that for a few days during the war the radio of the Bosnian Serbs tried to use ekavian pronunciation. They couldn’t do it, and so the attempt was abandoned under much embarrassment.

  45. John Cowan says:

    I see no reason to think that Canadian sorry is anything other than a product of the LOT=PALM=THOUGHT=CLOTH merger. The vowel tends to be higher in Canada than in much of the U.S., but that’s mere phonetics.

  46. @David “Perhaps it’s really a reanalysis as “sore-y”.”:

    I don’t think that’s possible. The same vowel sound is heard also in Canada in “borrow” and “tomorrow”.

    When I (an anglophone Canadian) was trying to convert to an American accent, these words (sorry, borrow, tomorrow, etc.) were some of the earliest changes I made (after the famous about/house/clout/etc.) — I mean, I tried to pronounce them the “American” way, which to my ears sounded like “sarry”, “tomahrrow”, etc. In fact, my friends laughed when I overcorrected “orange” to “ahrange”… although I later think I found Americans who *do* say “ahrange”, so maybe it wasn’t an overcorrection after all.

    (I gave up trying not too long after this, and never did “fix” my Don/Dawn, Mary/marry/merry, party/hard, knife/knives, etc…)

  47. David Marjanović says:

    You mean a START=FORCE merger? Because it’s [o].

  48. David Marjanović says:

    I’m trying to figure out if anything determines the choice of word orders, and so far I’m drawing a blank… it really seems to be free variation with this one conjunction and no others.

    Dramatic pauses (“– because: That’s how it is!”) cause verb-second order, because they lead the hearer to expect a whole new sentence.

    The presence of another trigger of verb-last order cannot be overridden, except by intonation, and then only in the dialect where it doesn’t change weil into denn: das ist deswegen so, weil es so ist / *denn es ist so “it is so for the reason that it is so”.

    That seems to be all. I’ve found several false leads.

  49. Andrej Bjelaković says:

    @gwenllian
    “It hasn’t really been my impression that Bosnian Serbs have been switching to ekavian, least of all in the spoken language. My experience is limited, though, and I don’t know anything about what the situation is among younger generations. Is ekavian encouraged or enforced in schools in RS? It’d be a great pity if that was happening. I’ve always envied the Serbian standard’s acceptance of two pronunciations.”

    Yes, this is the first time I’m hearing about any ekavian in spoken Serbian in Bosnia. However, back in the ’90s, written ekavian was allowed (or even enforced!) in schools. They subsequently abandoned that idea, but I think there are still people from that generation who like using it in written communication. But an acquaintance of mine from Banja Luka who told me about this (b. 1983) says nobody ever tried using ekavian in speech.

  50. When I was learning German, as well as the standard, I tried to learn some Austrian dialect, since I was planning for a trip to Austria. I initially tried to learn Austrian German specifically, as our teacher wanted us to specialize, as least to the point of speaking with a proper regional accent, possibly with some regional vocabulary. However, as a result of doing fake German accents for many years (realistic sounding accents for languages I didn’t speak were always a skill of mine, rather like Sid Ceasar), I found that I naturally tended to produce Hannoverian Hochdeutsch, so I eventually gave up and made that my accent of choice.

    However, I did still endeavor to learn some Austrian, and I remember preferring Viennese constructions with weil to those in standard German. I sort of wished I could use weil more when speaking standard.

  51. “Weil” with main clause word order is not just Viennese, you also find colloquially in Germany.

  52. John Cowan says:

    U.S. Easterners do say “ahrange”, including me, because we don’t have LOT=THOUGHT.

  53. John, isn’t that FORCE or NORTH? “Force” and “farce” are generally distinct even for Westerners. I’m also an Easterner, and I say “orange”, like “or”, but as a kid I said “ahrnge” (one syllable).

  54. David Marjanović says:

    because we don’t have LOT=THOUGHT.

    No, assuming orange is a FORCE word, it’s because you don’t have NORTH=FORCE ( = LOT=THOUGHT before /r/) but do have FORCE=START ( = LOT=PALM before /r/). RP has NORTH=FORCE=THOUGHT, but keeps LOT and PALM=START distinct; and that means [o] in orange.

  55. John Cowan says:

    Nope, I have NORTH=FORCE like most Americans of my generation or later. START=NORTH (not FORCE) is very confined to a small area in the U.S., very recessive, and pretty much unknown elsewhere (except the Caribbean and parts of Scotland).

    For me, orange is a LOT word because the /r/ is an onset, not a coda. The only time onset /r/ becomes a coda for me is when the underlying vowel that precedes it is /u ~ ʊ/, the hurry-furry merger, where I have /ɚri/ in both. Similarly I have TRAP in parent, not SQUARE, despite the supposed impossibility of English syllables ending in /æ/ (which is indeed [æ] for me).

  56. Right: orange is a LOT word (and even if it weren’t, so to speak, it would be a NORTH word rather than a FORCE one). I have /ɒːɹ/ in orange and /ɔɚ/ in north and force.

    despite the supposed impossibility of English syllables ending in /æ/

    Likewise my parent, mirror and hurry all contain impossible syllables, as does RP orange (though not my own, since my LOT has shifted from checked to free).

  57. Hold on, I’m thoroughly confused…

    > I see no reason to think that Canadian sorry is anything other than a product of the LOT=PALM=THOUGHT=CLOTH merger.

    I think the point is that Canadians rhyme “sorry” with “story”, which AFAIK no AmE speakers do, even if they’re cot-caught merged.

    > orange is a LOT word because the /r/ is an onset, not a coda.

    Interesting, I always thought this distinction made sense for BrE, but not really for AmE. Do you have a different vowel value in LOT and START? How about “sorry”? Is that LOT or START?

  58. marie-lucie says:

    dainichi: I think the point is that Canadians rhyme “sorry” with “story”,

    Canada is a big place (wider than the US) and there are regional differences. I have lived on both coasts (never in the middle) and I don’t recall this pronunciation.

  59. @dainichi: Canadian “sorey” is the result of the Torytorrent merger, in which pre-rhotic LOT merged with NORTH/FORCE. This merger is operative in most of AmEng (cotcaught merged or not), with the only difference being that a small group of words were excepted south of the border (canonically sorry, borrow, (to)morrow, sorrow), merging with START=LOT instead. I think there may be a few fringe areas, e.g. in the Upper Midwest, that say these the “Canadian” way.

    Interesting, I always thought this distinction made sense for BrE, but not really for AmE. Do you have a different vowel value in LOT and START? How about “sorry”? Is that LOT or START?

    For my part (speaking a rhotic form of Eastern New England English), it’s definitely an onset. I have [ɒː] in LOT=CLOTH=THOUGHT, including sorry, and *[ɒːɹ] is not an allowable rhyme for me. (By contrast I have [ɑː] in PALM, [ɑɚ] in START, and [ɔɚ] in NORTH=FORCE.)

    @marie-lucie: That’s surprising; it’s considered a classic shibboleth in my experience, and I’ve heard it from many Canadians. (Although it does seem that a lot of generalizations about CanEng are less applicable to BC and the Maritimes.)

  60. I think the point is that Canadians rhyme “sorry” with “story”, which AFAIK no AmE speakers do, even if they’re cot-caught merged.

    I do, and I’m not even cot-caught merged. I have that vowel in sorrow, too.

  61. dainichi: I think the point is that Canadians rhyme “sorry” with “story”,

    marie-lucie: Canada is a big place (wider than the US) and there are regional differences. I have lived on both coasts (never in the middle) and I don’t recall this pronunciation.

    Wow, really? Because this is like THE classic Canadian thing – esp considering the Canadian tendency to use “sorry” in situations where AmE would use “excuse me”.

  62. marie-lucie says:

    Lazar: it does seem that a lot of generalizations about CanEng are less applicable to BC and the Maritimes

    Both areas where I have lived (more than 20 years in each)!

  63. John Cowan says:

    Interesting, I always thought this distinction made sense for BrE, but not really for AmE.

    Remember that the East Coast continued interchanging with England long after the general British-American split in 1700 or so, which is why all the port cities (always excepting Philadelphia) became non-rhotic even though the common ancestor was rhotic. I’m fully rhotic myself as a son of New Jersey, but as such I otherwise sound close to The City’s accent, especially after forty years here.

    Although every accent, though not every idiolect, is clearly assignable to Leftpondia or Rightpondia, there are isoglosses that cross the ocean: my full differentiation of marry, Mary, merry as TRAP, SQUARE, DRESS is much more typical of other continents (and their islands) than my own. On the other hand, the fact that my dog has moved to CLOTH=THOUGHT whereas the other words in -og remain in LOT is just plain idiosyncratic.

    Do you have a different vowel value in LOT and START?

    Only slightly. LOT=PALM is fully open and fully unrounded, whereas START is a bit closer and a bit more rounded on its way to the retroflexed and endolabially rounded /r/ following it. It doesn’t amount to a phonemic distinction by any means.

    How about “sorry”? Is that LOT or START?

    LOT.

  64. On the LOT-CLOTH topic – I’ve been watching some Star Trek: Deep Space Nine recently, and I’ve noticed that René Auberjonois appears to be a sort of speaker that I didn’t know existed: he uses /ɔː/ in on but not in gone. In my reading on dialectology I’ve never heard of any variety where this happens. (The reverse, of course, is common enough.) He’s from New York City, but also spent part of his childhood in Europe and had family ties to Cincinnati; he uses a more Trans-Atlantic accent on the show than in real life, though from listening to some interviews it appears that he has the same lexical distribution.

    (Of no linguistic significance, he’s also an off-Bonaparte – descendant of Napoleon’s sister Caroline and Joachim Murat.)

  65. If you watch early appearances by René Auberjonois (most notably, in the film version of M*A*S*H; see the last second and a half of this clip for an example), he does an accent that is much closer to standard American English than in his later work. After his success on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (on which, as Lazar says, he actually plays up his unusual accent), he seemed to use his own real accent more, and he does have some traits which that I have not observed in any other speakers. (His son, the actor Remy Auberjonois has some similar speech patterns, but to nowhere near the extend of his father.)

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