According to this new article, the low back merger is spreading, and now 30% of Minnesotans are merged:
Also, note an increasing number of Native NYorkers who use standard Western accents, for example Lady Gaga...
This is indeed great news!
Yes, it is. People will stop correcting me in the South.
<<This is indeed great news! >>
Soon, Long Islanders won't complain when I pronounce "Montauk Point" as "Monn+tock Point".
Over Thanksgiving in northeast Texas with my family, I noticed that some of my younger relatives were mostly merged and even a few of the older relatives had picked up the merger in certain situations, such as before l (in which case the caught sound wins out), and/or in certain words, such as "lon" for lawn.
A couple of observations, based on a week's worth of listening: 1. The individuals with the merger preserve both sounds, but there are minimal pairs only before r (as in part/port). Other than before r the two sounds are strictly allophones, with the cot sound before n, d, and t and the caught sound elsewhere. 2. The individuals with the merger tend to merge other sounds as well, as in sale/sell, pool/pull, and where/wear.
I've heard ALL pronounced as [Al] (yep, unrounded vowel) in the South even in people with no c/c merger.