Linguistics Department

Doug Bigham (UT Austin) - The PIN~PEN Merger: Movement of Front Vowel Allophones in Pre-Nasal Position

Linguistics Colloquium

Mon, September 10, 2007 | UTC 4.110

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

This work considers the merger of the pre-nasal allophones of /ih/ (as in "pit") and /eh/ (as in "pet"), commonly called the PIN~PEN merger. Vowel tokens from thirty speakers in Southern Illinois are sampled; statistical information and vowel graphs, based on F1 measurements, are generated for discussion. While the majority of these Southern Illinois speakers do show the PIN~PEN merger, there is a wide range of variation in the ways and degrees that each individual speaker participates in the merger. Also, although /ae/ (as in "pat") has separately been shown to raise in pre-nasal contexts (Labov 1994), I address its interaction within the "classical" pin/pen merger. The possibility of a change in progress, from a PIN~PEN merger to a PEN~PAN merger is considered. The data reported here provide an important link between the phonetics literature and the sociolinguistic/dialectology literature on the effect of nasals on preceding vowels.

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