A-split going on in Australia.

Trane   Monday, October 18, 2004, 03:13 GMT
Is it true that there's a phonemic a-split going on in Australia that's making ''bad'' not rhyme with ''lad'' and that's make ''can'' (the noun) and ''can'' (able to) no longer homonyms.
Jim   Monday, October 18, 2004, 03:32 GMT
It's true. Though I think it was brought over from the British Isles a couple of centuries ago.
Tom   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 22:17 GMT
What's the difference in pronunciation? Can you describe it or (better) send a sample?
vn23   Tuesday, October 19, 2004, 23:37 GMT
I haven't heard of this before, at least not in NZ?
Mi5 Mick   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 03:24 GMT
It's simple. What he means is, "can" (inflection of the verb) has a short /@/ vowel while "can" (the noun) has the longer /@:/.

"Can you get the can?" ~ /c@n/ you get the /c@:n/. The same goes for "matter" ~/m@Rer/ and "madder" ~/m@:Rer/, where R is a flap T.

However, "lad" and "bad" both have long vowels in my accent, ie. /@:/
Mi5 Mick   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 03:30 GMT
* Actually, "lads" contains a short /@/ vowel, whereas "lad" is -- usually -- long.

Don't ask me why :)
Mi5 Mick   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 03:34 GMT
I'm originally from Melbourne, but I believe it's the same for most of Australia.
svalovec   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 05:02 GMT
'lad' has a shorter 'a' sound than 'bad' for me. In fact if you pronounced lad to rhyme with bad I would probably look at you funny.

I am assuming here, however, that we are talking about 'bad' as in not good, rather that 'bad' as in the variant spelling of 'bade', which incidentally I would pronounce with a short 'a'. There is quite a substantial split here and we could easily come up with a long list of short and long a sounds even just in these three letter words (thinking about it there are heaps of three letter '*ad' words). Then you could start talking about the castle and c[aa]stle issue.
By the way, in my more relaxed moments the a in can (the modal verb) can all but disappear.

"c'n you please pass the salt" is quite acceptable but "can of beans" has to have a long 'a'.

I would agree that this is not new.

(I am from a small country town in Victoria, but regional variations in pronunciation are not that marked, except perhaps South Australia compared to the rest of us. I am up in Darwin at the moment and the difference is more in the vocabulary than in pronunciation)
Mi5 Mick   Wednesday, October 20, 2004, 05:49 GMT
I think you might be right with regard to my pronunciation too. It gets confusing when shifting and adding letters. eg. 'g'->"glad" produces a longer syllable than "lad", so "lad" would have to be short or you would look at me funny :) But intonation also affects length.

The same thing happens in other accents. Take "have" (short @) and "halve" (long @) in American accents; they are distinguished by length.
Jim   Thursday, October 21, 2004, 00:00 GMT

Sorry, I can't send a sample but I think that Mi5 Mick and Svalovec have pretty much covered things. I'd say /l@d/ for "lad", /gl@:d/ for "glad", /b@:d/ for "bad", /b@d/ for "bade", /k@n/ for the aux. verb, /k@:n/ for the noun, /@:n/ for the girl's name and /@n/ for the indefinite article.
Mi5 Mick   Thursday, October 21, 2004, 04:20 GMT
castle and c[aa]stle (/@/ vs /a:/)

Hobart: ka:sl (60%)
Melbourne: k@sl (70%)
Brisbane: k@sl (67%)
Sydney: ka:sl (100%)
Adelaide: ka:sl (86%)

Regular   Friday, October 22, 2004, 04:00 GMT
So...this is something unique to the Australian dialect?
Jim   Friday, October 22, 2004, 05:42 GMT
No, not at all.

"Many southern English make a longer vowel in 'bad' than in 'lad' and may even have minimal pairs between the name 'Sally' and the verb 'to sally', or between 'shandy' the long drink and 'brandy' the short drink;"

J.C. Wells
vn23   Friday, October 22, 2004, 09:04 GMT
They are all the same to me, the difference must be that especially nasal aussie vowel used in words like dance and sometimes castle?
KC   Sunday, October 24, 2004, 13:50 GMT
'lad' has a shorter 'a' sound than 'bad' for me. In fact if you pronounced lad to rhyme with bad I would probably look at you funny.

I would have to agree with svalovec on that one.

As for different cities in Australia having different dialects, I think it's ridiculous. There are no full proof camparable differences. The only difference in Aussie accents I can hear are city and country(I mean waaay outback) accents. You must have a pretty good ear or travel meticulously from state to state to find anything substantial.
This message goes out to all those people(usually Melbournians) accusing Brisbane or Queensland in general of having a sluggish 'Steve Irwin' style accent.