Map that shows Northerners have the last laff

Rick Johnson   Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:35 pm GMT
<<I found that map hard to understand. I thought there were just two basic pronunciations of "bath" in England: [{]/[a], and [A:]. What do they mean when they talk about a tripartite distinction between <bath with 'a'>, <bath with 'aa'>, and <bath with 'ah'>? As an amateur linguist, I wish they could just use IPA instead of this ad hoc faux-netic mess.

So when they talk about this tripartite distinction, do they mean>>

I guess it could be confusing:
The first "a" is a short sound = ae
The second "aa" is basically the same as the first but lengthened =ae:
The third "ah" is quite different from the first two = a:

So in modern English Northerners (for most words) use = "ae"
People in the South West mainly use "ae:"
but to complicate matters the South East uses all three:
e.g. ba:th, but bae:g, but Kaep (bath, bag, cap)
JHJ   Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:53 pm GMT
I think if you listen to the IPA vowels (e.g. at Peter Ladefoged's site ) you'll find that the northern English BATH sounds like an [a], not an [{] (IPA ae ligature), while the southern English "ah" is a long [A] (IPA script a). At least, that's the way they sound to me.
Josh Lalonde   Wed Mar 28, 2007 2:04 pm GMT
I've heard of these different BATH vowels before. The way I understand it

a is [a] (North)
aa is [a:] (West Country/Southwest) I think the Midlands fall into here as well, or used to at any rate
ah or ar is [A:] (London, Home Counties/Southeast)

Incidentally, Jamaica also has [a] and [a:] for TRAP and BATH respectively. Wikipedia says that the West Country actually has three different vowels here, so TRAP [a], BATH [a:] and PALM [A:] (I've also read that LOT unrounding occurs there but without merger, so there could be a fourth vowel [A])
Liz   Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:34 pm GMT
<<"laff" is correct. "larf" is substandard. There's no "r" in the word "laugh", hence it shouldn't be pronounced "larf".>>

There is nothing wrong with "larf". This spelling is intended to represent the southern, non-rhotic pronounciation of words like "bath". The r is silent, the "a" sound is long.
Liz   Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:37 pm GMT
However, it might as well be "lahf". Both are [la:f].
Guest   Thu Mar 29, 2007 12:52 am GMT
I understand why there is confusion re Northern English pronunciations. I had a closer listen to the samples on the map and found not all northern regions share the same vowel. Certain grey areas have [a], others have [{] ( [] in IPA.)

Workington: glasses [a]
Leek: plasterer [a]
Newcastle: last [a]
Preston: classes [a]
Liverpool: chance [a]
Rugby: fast [a]

Lincoln: castle [{]
Carlisle: castles [{]
Middlesborough: past [{]
York: afterwards [{]
Burnley: bathroom [{]
Bradford: bathrooms [{]
Nottingham: samples [{]

Some I found were indeterminate.

Furthermore, the southern and London areas aren't perfectly consistent either with [A:] and [a:] which is sometimes [a].
Andy   Thu Mar 29, 2007 3:54 pm GMT
Bath, laugh and trap. Trap is the odd one out for anyone in the south east. (We don't say Trahp). The word "plastic" can be said different ways within the south east. Some people say "plahstic".

I think when people talk about a "southern" pronunciation they are referring to a south west pronunciation rather than south east.
Rick Johnson   Thu Mar 29, 2007 6:53 pm GMT
<<I think when people talk about a "southern" pronunciation they are referring to a south west pronunciation rather than south east.>>

I would say the opposite is true. If someone talks about southerners around here (Manchester) people immediately think of London and the surrounding area.
Damian in Edinburgh   Thu Mar 29, 2007 9:54 pm GMT
***If someone talks about southerners around here (Manchester) people immediately think of London and the surrounding area***

If someone talks about Southerners around here (Scotland) people immediately think of England (no surrounding area as such, unless it's little old Wales but Wales is merely tacked on to the western bit of England isn't it?)

To most Scots "The South" refers to that place south of the border.

Good evening, Andrew! Noswaith dda i chwi! Gobeithio yr wyf yn gweled ti dros y Pasg. Pob hwyl.
Andy   Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:46 am GMT
Sorry I should've been more specific about when "southern" means southwestern.

Someone made a point earlier that "southern" pronunciation varies or was inconsistent. Of course it will if you compare south west with south east pronunciation. I don't think the pronunciation of bath, trap and laugh varies that much within the south east. If you've got a "southern" pronunciation that differs from the standard southeast way then you are probably talking with a southwest pronunciation. Is that better folks?

Of course southeast and southwest is the south and people down here are southerners. I'd like to thank all the norvverners for their contributions.