Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Goose Room and the Foot Room

Some differences in pronunciation cross traditional dialect boundaries. One such curio is the word ‘room,’ which has two common variants: one with the vowel in ‘goose,’ and the other with the ‘lax’ vowel in ‘foot.’ I use the vowel in … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

British ‘LOT’, 2012

The last post inspired a brief debate in the comments section about the LOT vowel (i.e. the ‘o’ in ‘not,’ ‘Todd,’ and ‘rot’) in contemporary British English. The question, it seems, is whether this sound has shifted closer to the vowel space … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Canadian Vowels vs. California Vowels

Canadians and Californians share more than a few passing similarities, speech-wise. After all, it didn’t take much suspension of disbelief to buy Canadian Keanu Reeves as a Valley native in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. (L.A. natives would probably disagree … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments

A New (Rhotic?) Dialect in New Zealand?

Needless to say, I was quite intrigued by this recent article at Stuff.co.nz about a new urban dialect spoken in South Auckland, New Zealand.  A unique type of youthful, urban speech has emerged, not dissimilar to Multicultural British English in terms of … Continue reading

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Whatever Happened to the Northumbrian /r/?

As I’ve previously discussed, English accents exhibit various types of /r/ sounds. Yet few are as peculiar as the /r/ once typical of an accent known as the Northumbrian burr, spoken in rural areas of Northeast England. The burr was notorious … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , | 9 Comments

-ness: A Darn Productive Morpheme

The English lexicon contains numerous nouns formed by adding the suffix ‘-ness‘ to an adjective: ‘weakness,’ ‘fullness,’ ‘brightness,’ and countless others. And at least in American English, we find creative new uses of ‘-ness’ all the time, which seem to be … Continue reading

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Poor Dick’s Profane Conversion

English-speakers have a unique way of appropriating everyday words to describe sex. From sports to farm animals to botany, we have a vast trove of erotic symbolism at our disposal. One of the stranger of these conversions is that of … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 18 Comments

The Englishness of H-Dropping

Longtime readers may notice that I rarely discuss h-dropping. Novices might remember this accent feature from some unfortunate community theatre production of ‘My Fair Lady‘ in which the actress playing Eliza Doolittle bleats ”enry ‘iggins!’ Systematic h-droppers drop the letter ‘h’ at … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , , , | 37 Comments