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Old 01-03-2014, 12:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timberline742 View Post
I always get the 'you don't sound like you're from Boston' bit, and the reality is few people that even grew up in Boston speak with the stereotypical accent
I think some people can still do the accent, but are reluctant to do so unless they are talking to close friends or relatives.
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Old 01-03-2014, 07:05 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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Originally Posted by CaseyB View Post
Verseau, what is it called when someone makes 2 syllables out of a 1 syllable word? I'm thinking of examples like "chair" pronounced "chay ah" by people with severe accents. Many examples have 2 vowels together, but some don't like "where", "there". Maybe it's the "r"'s?
This is called vowel breaking, and in this case it's triggered specifically by the vocalization (dropping) of [r]. The [r] sound started disappearing from the coda position in certain English dialects a few hundred years ago. Different dialects underwent this sound change in different ways, which is why "chair" spoken by a Londoner doesn't sound the same as "chair" spoken by a Bostonian. The latter, as you mentioned, will sometimes pronounce the word with two syllables ("chay-ah" or [tʃɛjə] in the International Phonetic Alphabet).

I would have to look back at the New England dialect research done in the 1930s to check if the breaking/2-syllable pronunciation was more common back then. Anecdotally, I do recall hearing it more often from older people than middle-aged r-droppers.

Note that the vowel breaking has nothing to do with the number of vowel letters in the word. As a linguist, when I talk about vowels I am usually talking about sounds or phonemes in the spoken language, rather than spelling. English has 5 (or 6) vowel letters, but American English dialects actually have 14-16 distinct vowel sounds, and other English dialects have even more. One of the hardest things about English is that the relationship between spelling and pronunciation is very inconsistent. So you have the <ai> in "chair" or the <e> in "where" which both represent the same phoneme, /ɛ/.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verseau View Post
This is called vowel breaking, and in this case it's triggered specifically by the vocalization (dropping) of [r]. The [r] sound started disappearing from the coda position in certain English dialects a few hundred years ago. Different dialects underwent this sound change in different ways, which is why "chair" spoken by a Londoner doesn't sound the same as "chair" spoken by a Bostonian. The latter, as you mentioned, will sometimes pronounce the word with two syllables ("chay-ah" or [tʃɛjə] in the International Phonetic Alphabet).

I would have to look back at the New England dialect research done in the 1930s to check if the breaking/2-syllable pronunciation was more common back then. Anecdotally, I do recall hearing it more often from older people than middle-aged r-droppers.

Note that the vowel breaking has nothing to do with the number of vowel letters in the word. As a linguist, when I talk about vowels I am usually talking about sounds or phonemes in the spoken language, rather than spelling. English has 5 (or 6) vowel letters, but American English dialects actually have 14-16 distinct vowel sounds, and other English dialects have even more. One of the hardest things about English is that the relationship between spelling and pronunciation is very inconsistent. So you have the <ai> in "chair" or the <e> in "where" which both represent the same phoneme, /ɛ/.
Phonemically, I do not really think the /ɛə/ or /Iə/ sequences (with or without some glide insertion) should be considered two syllables, in any dialect.
In English if it is a true vowel sequence, one should be able to insert a glottal stop, so Iowa can be I-?-owa. However if you do that with 'chair' it sounds terrible.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:30 AM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
Phonemically, I do not really think the /ɛə/ or /Iə/ sequences (with or without some glide insertion) should be considered two syllables, in any dialect.
In English if it is a true vowel sequence, one should be able to insert a glottal stop, so Iowa can be I-?-owa. However if you do that with 'chair' it sounds terrible.
I wasn't necessarily suggesting that "chair" is disyllabic in the underlying representation, only in production (I'm a sociolinguist, so I like to avoid theoretical claims. )

But I completely agree with you that in most non-rhotic English dialects, /ɛə̯/ in "chair" is a diphthong, with the non-syllabic schwa serving as a short glide. However, what distinguishes traditional eastern New England speech is precisely the disyllabic pronunciation, /ɛjə/. You can hear the disyllabic pronunciation of "fair" in this video at 0:40 -


The Fair - YouTube

The glide insertion necessitates the two-syllable analysis (it's impossible to have a single vowel nucleus with a glide in the middle of it).

As for the glottal stop "test," (which is new to me) that still works here. English speakers are capable of producing [tʃɛjʔə] if you asked them to (in fact, this sequence exists in many British dialects - see [hɛɪ̯ʔə] for "hater"), even if it "sounds terrible" (inserting a glottal stop in "Iowa" sounds pretty weird too ). Besides, CaseyB - who isn't trained in linguistics as far as I know - hears these words as two syllables from some Boston speakers, so that has to count for something, right?
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verseau View Post
I wasn't necessarily suggesting that "chair" is disyllabic in the underlying representation, only in production (I'm a sociolinguist, so I like to avoid theoretical claims. )

But I completely agree with you that in most non-rhotic English dialects, /ɛə̯/ in "chair" is a diphthong, with the non-syllabic schwa serving as a short glide. However, what distinguishes traditional eastern New England speech is precisely the disyllabic pronunciation, /ɛjə/. You can hear the disyllabic pronunciation of "fair" in this video at 0:40 -


The Fair - YouTube

The glide insertion necessitates the two-syllable analysis (it's impossible to have a single vowel nucleus with a glide in the middle of it).

As for the glottal stop "test," (which is new to me) that still works here. English speakers are capable of producing [tʃɛjʔə] if you asked them to (in fact, this sequence exists in many British dialects - see [hɛɪ̯ʔə] for "hater"), even if it "sounds terrible" (inserting a glottal stop in "Iowa" sounds pretty weird too ). Besides, CaseyB - who isn't trained in linguistics as far as I know - hears these words as two syllables from some Boston speakers, so that has to count for something, right?
"Glottal stop test" only works if there is usually not a glottal stop. If it is usually there in some dialect, it does not mean much. The idea is that people generally accept "insertion" of a glottal stop between two syllables, for a slow or emphatic speech (even though it may not be natural), but such a operation is less acceptable within the nucleus of a syllable.
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Old 01-04-2014, 01:12 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
"Glottal stop test" only works if there is usually not a glottal stop. If it is usually there in some dialect, it does not mean much. The idea is that people generally accept "insertion" of a glottal stop between two syllables, for a slow or emphatic speech (even though it may not be natural), but such a operation is less acceptable within the nucleus of a syllable.
That makes sense, but I'm only talking about production, not phonemic representation. Words like "chair" can definitely be disyllabic in traditional eastern New England speech from a purely acoustic analysis (having two distinct peaks of sonority).
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Old 01-05-2014, 04:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Verseau View Post
That makes sense, but I'm only talking about production, not phonemic representation. Words like "chair" can definitely be disyllabic in traditional eastern New England speech from a purely acoustic analysis (having two distinct peaks of sonority).
Yes I agree.
I think coda -r and -l are semi-syllables anyway. Many English learners perceive them as an independent syllable too.
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