Neutral American English
Interesting stuff, this.
It is interesting to note that people who've undergone accent reduction/elimination might be the only ones speaking pure GenAm. The girl I knew who went to the Juilliard School of Music underwent such a program. "It was torture", said she--but she spoke GenAm with the very barest trace of a Southern accent. (The only trace was in an incompletely formed "ai" dipthong in some instances; apparently, mastering this non-native dipthong is the biggest hurdle for those speakers)
I misunderstood you about the cot/caught merger in GenAm. My bad.
I'm doing some cot/caught Mary/merry/marry research at work, where I'm blessed with working with people from all over the US. There have already been some surprises--for example, a native Michiganer is cot/caught unmerged--but I will let any of you know the results of my study if you want.
>> for example, a native Michiganer is cot/caught unmerged <<
Are there many merged ones? I thought most of them were unmerged, except northern LP, and the UP.
I'm not an expert on the dialect down there, but I think that some areas of Connecticut may approximate General American: non-rhoticism is largely absent, the pre-/r/ mergers are common, and the cot-caught distinction is preserved.
This was an error in my own perception. Listening casually seems to produce different results than listening intently. ;-)
Sarcastic, I know a woman from Portland, OR; I'm going to interview her today.
I need to ask; let's abbreviate. Is correct GenAM cot/caught merged, marry/Marry/merry merged, with no dipthongization of vowels? I know this is simplistic, but it'll help. (This is what I remember from the Julliard gal)
I doubt this very much. A lady in Sales is from Connecticut; she has strong dipthongization of certain vowels. That's from listening casually, not intently. I'm going to interview her.
I re-read one of your previous posts. GenAm is properly cot/caught unmerged. I see.
<<A lady in Sales is from Connecticut; she has strong dipthongization of certain vowels.>>
I don't really know what you mean by that; could you elaborate?
<<I need to ask; let's abbreviate. Is correct GenAM cot/caught merged, marry/Marry/merry merged, with no dipthongization of vowels? I know this is simplistic, but it'll help. (This is what I remember from the Julliard gal) >>
There's no official definition for these variables, but I would say GenAm is c-c unmerged, 3M merged, and has dipthongs for the vowels of FACE and GOAT. Some people have argued that modern GenAm is c-c merged, while GenAm was traditionally not 3M merged and this may survive in some speakers' formal registers.
Should be: "has diphthongs"
>>I need to ask; let's abbreviate. Is correct GenAM cot/caught merged, marry/Marry/merry merged, with no dipthongization of vowels? I know this is simplistic, but it'll help. (This is what I remember from the Julliard gal)<<
Like with Josh said, General American proper is cot-caught unmerged, has diphthongal FACE and GOAT vowels, and while GA today generally has the 3M merger conservative forms of GA may lack it, generally having only the Mary-merry merger. At the same time, many otherwise GA-like dialects are cot-caught merged and or have only weakly diphthongal or even monophthongal FACE and GOAT vowels.
>> Sarcastic, I know a woman from Portland, OR; I'm going to interview her today. <<
Try to get her to say these words:
bed (CVS. Does the "e" sound closer to the "a" in "bad"?)
bad (CVS. listen to her "a" sound. Does it sound slightly retracted to closer to an "ah" in father sound?)
ban (Does she pronounce it more like "bee-uhn" or does she have the same vowel as in "bad"?)
bag (Is it the same "a" sound in "bad", or does it sound more like beg?)
beg (Does it have the same "e" sound in "bed", or does it sound more like bayg?)
vague (compare the vowel sound with "bag" and "bag")
awesome (does she round her lips when she says that?)
bod (does she round her lips?)
move (does she round her lips when she says "move", or are they unrounded. Compare with the "oo" sound in "school". Is there a big difference or a small difference?)
do (does she round her lips?)
tomorrow (tomOhrow or tomAhrow?)
shopping (shoppin' shopping shoppeeng or shoppeen?)
length (layngth or lingth or with the same "e" sound as in "bed")
get (gEt or gIt?)
when (wEn or wIn?)
again (agayn or agIn or agEn?)
guest (ghist or gEst?)
I have to qualify; I don't know exactly where in CT she's from. If she's from Stamford, Norwalk, or in that region I won't use her because that's too close to NYC for comfort.
But in CASUAL listening, I have heard a NCVS in some short-a vowelled words, but not in others. That wouldn't fit the definition of GenAm.
TRAVIS: Thanks a bunch. Your explanation is concise. :-)
Here are some preliminary results, for your info.
Subject 1: Middle age female, Native Northern Nevada: c/c merged 3m merged, no NCVS shift, slight dipthongization of short-e sound.
Subject 2: Middle-age female, native Southern Arizona: c/c merged, 3m merged, no NCVS shift, no dipthongization at all.
Subject 3: Middle-aged female, native Detroit MI: c/c unmerged, 3m merged, moderate NCVS shift, dipthongization.
Subject 4: Elderly female, native Pontiac MI: c/c unmerged, 3m merged, strong NCVS shift, dipthongization.
I'll get back to you; I have a lot more people to interview.
What's the CVS stand for? I'm not there yet in my studies.
In this context, CVS means "California Vowel Shift". The California Vowel Shift is a vowel shift that is basically in the opposite direction of the NCVS, with a lowered TRAP vowel, a rounded and raised FATHER vowel, fronted (and derounded) back vowels other than the FATHER vowel, and lowered KIT and DRESS vowels.
That's the same vowel shift I've been bleating about so much; I just didn't know what it was called.
The CVS is quite distinctive in California speech and is the single thing that sets California speech apart from its Eastern cousins,imho
Do you think the CVS would disqualify a speaker from speaking GenAM?
If we raise the bar too high, we might end up without a single speaker of GenAM. Even with the very minimum criteria I've already set up, it's looking like that, already.
One interesting anomaly: the Nevada speaker had CVS features with the short-e, but with dipthongization, along with dipthongization of the short-a sound. This blend, so far, has been unique.
One more speaker:
Middle aged male, Fresno, CA:
c/c merged, 3m merged, no dipthongization of short-a and short-e, no dipthongization of the a in "family".
Is the dipthongization of the a in "family" a feature found only in younger speakers? Or is this feature restricted to the LA area?
I'm interviewing a middleaged male speaker from LA today.