KING KEEN merger

Milton   Thu Jul 26, 2007 4:28 pm GMT
I would like to know something more on this merger.
Peter Ladefoged mentions it in his chapter on American English phonetics (in IPA symbols guide). I guess it's a West Coast thing since it's present in CA, OR, WA.
This merger is also present in some nonnative accents of English
/for example: Italian English/
see here:

Do you have this merger?
Since BITCHIN' is a very frequent word in California, its spelling was modified to BITCHEN to reflect the /In/ pronunciation. BITCHIN(G) would be pronounced BITCHEEN in CA, OR, WA because of this KING KEEN merger.
So, the West Coast spelling is always BITCHEN :=)
Guest   Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:15 pm GMT
There is no King/Keen merger in Southern California. I'm not sure what you're talking about.
Lazar   Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:18 pm GMT
Like Guest, I've never heard of this "king-keen" merger. I suspect that you're thinking of the phenomenon, common on the West Coast, in which the vowel of "king" is raised to [i]. Yes, I think this should be regarded as a phonemic shift - "king" comes to use the vowel phoneme of "keen", rather than the vowel phoneme of "kin" as it does in my dialect - but it's not a merger, because no words - not even any potential syllables - would become homophonous as a result of it. As far as I know, no native speaker of English anywhere would merge "king" and "keen".

<<BITCHIN(G) would be pronounced BITCHEEN in CA, OR, WA because of this KING KEEN merger.>>

No, you're confused here. On the West Coast, final *unstressed* historical /IN/ becomes [in] for many speakers, but it this does not effect the nasal consonant in stressed syllables like "king". I would hesitate to call even this phenomenon a merger, because I can't think of any words that have final unstressed [in] in the speech of people like me.

So I think you've conflated two separate but related phonological processes, neither of which I would consider a merger.
Lazar   Thu Jul 26, 2007 7:23 pm GMT
Typos: <but it this does not effect> should be <but this does not affect>.
Milton   Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:49 pm GMT
OK. Here is what I've read -


Handbook of the International Phonetic Association : A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet by International Phonetic Association (Paperback - Jun 28, 1999)

page: 43
chapter: American English
author: Peter Ladefoged (Department of Linguistics, UCLA)


''Vowels are raised before /N/ in the same syllable, so that the vowel in 'sing' is nearer that in 'seen' than that in 'sin' ''

You can read it with Amazon online reader if you don't believe me.
Milton   Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:52 pm GMT
Oh, I just remembered.
It was the Wikipedia article that talked about the KING KEEN merger
Ladefoged's article is only a confirmation.

''Front vowels are raised before velar nasal [ŋ], so that the near-open front unrounded vowel /æ/ and the near-close near-front unrounded vowel /ɪ/ are raised to a close-mid front unrounded vowel [e] and a close front unrounded vowel [i] before [ŋ]. This change makes for minimal pairs such as 'king' and 'keen', both having the same vowel [i], differing from king [kɪŋ] in other varieties of English. ''
Milton   Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:54 pm GMT

'' * As a Bay Area life-long resident, I've always used the raised I (as in keen) for words like king and sing; I've never known any other pronunciation until a few years ago. I can, however say and hear the differences, though they are very slight to me. ''
Travis   Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:13 pm GMT
Well, it is very well possible that someone does have such a feature; however, though, that in no fashion necessarily means that such a feature is actually widespread at all.
furrykef   Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:55 pm GMT
I (an Oklahoman) remember that, as a child, I always had trouble saying the name "Commander Keen" (the name of an old computer game), because it always sounded like "Commander King" when I said it. If I'm speaking without thinking, I might still pronounce "keen" like "king".

I can't think of any other words where I have a similar problem, though.

- Kef
Sarcastic Northwesterner   Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:15 am GMT
I pronounce -ing [IN] as -een [in] in unstressed syllables. This phenomenon does not affect stressed syllables at all. King and keen are quite distinct. Many of my friends who are from California and Arizona have something a little different. Whereas I consistently pronounce -ing as -een [in], as do most people around here, most of the Californians and Arizonans that I've met tend to pronounce them as either walkin' [In], walking [IN], or walkeeng [iN]. I do not use any of those three forms. The third form seems to be predominately used by girls about 15-25 years old. Up here, age and gender do not seem to be variables in the use of the -een [in] form--I use that form, my parents and grandparents do as well. It is not completely universal, I've noticed--some of my friends do not have it, for example, but a great deal of people seem to have it here--whereas from my understanding, it is not very common in other regions in North America.

Here is my pronunciation of some words, my friend H.T. (20, female) from California and my friend T.C. (16, male)


>> Well, it is very well possible that someone does have such a feature; however, though, that in no fashion necessarily means that such a feature is actually widespread at all. <<

I think it must be fairly well widespread in CA and AZ, since many people from there seem to have it (although mostly 15-25 year old girls--I've rarely heard if from males or older speakers). I actually ask people if they're from CA or AZ if I hear [k_hiN] for king, and so far I've never been wrong.
Lazar   Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:54 am GMT
<<You can read it with Amazon online reader if you don't believe me.>>

I don't disbelieve you, but to call this phenomenon "the king-keen merger" is a misnomer. It causes "king" and "keen" to use the same vowel phoneme, but it does not make them homophones.
Milton   Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:37 am GMT

I don't remember Californians having [Q] in WALKING...
The vowel sounds like [A] to me...
[Q] is used in some words like ALL, CALL, TALL (because of the final dark L influence; most people think ALL [Q] and DON/DAWN [A] have the same vowel /A/, and many people do retain [A] in ALL, CALL, TALL...when L is not final, [A] is much more frequent: TALL [tAl, dQl]but TALLER /tAl@r; rarely tQl@r/, DOLLAR /dAl@; rarely dQl@r; dQl@r sounds like Canadian pronunciation to my ear; Canadian newscasters pronounce it always like [dQl@r], Californian newscasters prefer [dAl@r]/;

(aside from
1. dark L influence which transforms [A] into [Q],
/but it is not another phoneme, because people think [Q] sounds like [A], [Q] is more of an allophone of /A/ before dark L; /
2. California vowel shift which /A/ in all positions can be shifted to /Q/: the most frequent /Q/word is MOM [mQm] :) ))

mom /mAm/ ([mAm, mQm])
all /Al/ ([Al, Ql)]
tall /tAl/ ([tAl, (tQl)])
doll /dAl/ ([dAl, (dQl)])
walk /wAk/ ([wAk, (wQk)])

One thing I don't get about the Western pronunciation is the claim that ''there is no [Q] vowel in the West''; I think this is not true.
There is no /Q/ phoneme, but /Q/ can appear because of dark L influence, and because of the Californian vowel shift...
I've heard a women from WA state pronounce AWESOME with [Q] (that's funny because people from NYC pronounce it with this vowel, but it is both [Q] and /Q/ for them; I think for this women [Q] is /A/ in perception)
Milton   Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:39 am GMT
Milton   Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:45 am GMT
One more question...
How Californians pronounce words spelled without the final -g?
with /I/ or /i/?

Marchin’ Already
Fallin’ From Planes,
Fun Lovin’ Criminals,
Cruisin’ Mooses
Screemin’ Ab-Dabs
Hello Darlin’
Milton   Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:48 am GMT