Are any of you "un-merging"?

Bill in Los Angeles   Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:20 pm GMT
<<I'm from the NW:

adahlt sahlt gahlf gahlf

All have "ah" just like malt

as opposed to cult and difficult which has oh: cohlt (same as colt), difficohlt>>

I the NW Guy's adahlt sahlt gahlf gahlf have made it down the coast to L.A.

<<<<Salt/adult is pretty common where I live.>>

In Los Angeles? I would have to disagree.>>

Then again, perhaps that's just the way I *hear* it. I'll do some eifld research today and report back to the group.

<<So I guess, roundedness of the merged vowel is still avoided, due to many factors, even lack of prestige.>>

I don't know.. those with and without prestige seem to merge some vowels and not others, so if it's a prestige thing, wouldn't we avoid all mergers and do our best to speak in the most prestigious pronunciations? Maybe it's largely uncounsious and in some corner of the mind we avoid certain mergers that are considered "incorrect" in our region.
Guest   Sat Jul 19, 2008 6:01 pm GMT
>> do our best to speak in the most prestigious pronunciations? <<

Well, actually we wouldn't do that. People tend to talk like people they identify with, and not the most prestigious forms. If that were the case, then we'd all sound like Boston Brahmins, or at least like a General American accent. Also, dialects like African-American Vernacular English and Southern English would quickly die out--rather than becoming stronger as telephone surveys seem to show.
Guest   Sat Jul 19, 2008 6:25 pm GMT
Perhaps the sahlt-adahlt thing isn't really so much of a (sub)regional thing, but rather how an individual tend to pronounce it. So, maybe if you got 10 speakers from each of the Western states and interviewed them, the end result would be that it would be impossible to determine the state or sub-region that they were from--or perhaps it would overlap, like for example the tomorrow ohr/ahr thing. For example, from my impression of it, at least here, I would estimate that at about 70% of the people that I know are natives here use the "ohr" (tomohrow) version. However, about 20% of people that I know and that are natives (and haven't moved around the country very much) do indeed say tomahrow. Then there are some that use them interchangeably in the same conversation. Now, if you did the same test, in say, San Diego, I bet that most would say it as tomahrow, but I also bet that there would be a couple natives of there that used the "ohr" form instead.