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Mark J. Reed wrote:

> Interesting!
>
(Tristan:)
> >    The words 'hut' and 'heart', for example, are distinguised only by
the
> >    duration of the 'ah' sound.
>
> In what dialect of English is the vowel of <hut> the same as the vowel
> of <heart>?

Australian, evidently.  This took me aback too, until I reminded myself of
Tristan's nationality :-)).  Apparently "hut" is something like [h6t], so
"heart" must be [h6:t].  Personally I'd have to hear it before I'd believe
it, but as Don Quixote often said, en este mundo maravilloso, todo puede
ser.  My understanding is that in RP, the vowels would be different, [h6t]
vs. [hA:t] maybe??? (details open to correction) -- and as you point out,
quite different in Merkin, rhotic or not.

Also relevant:  one of his sources was R. Mannell, "The vowels of Australian
English..."

> >    the  'h' in 'huge' is objectively much closer to the 'ch' in German
> >    'ich' than the 'h' in 'hunt'.
>
> I'm not sure what this means.  Do you mean that the <h> in <huge>
> is closer to the <ch> in <ich> than it is to the <h> in <hunt>,
> or than the <h> in <hunt> is to the <ch>?
>
Well, both, actually.  It's the [-j-] onset in [ju] that makes it sound like
the ich-laut.  Still, the h of "hint" is not the same as the h of "hunt",
and all of them can be analyzed as a period of voiceless aspiration with the
tongue already in position for the coming vowel sound. (We were taught to
produce a passable Indonesian final h by keeping the tongue in the position
of the preceding vowel and simply turning off voicing.)
>
> >    (vowels are typically shortened in English
> >    when followed by an unvoiced consnant).
>
> I thought it was that they were lengthened when
> followed by a voiced consonant.  Guess it all depends on your point
> of view. :)
>
Perhaps he should have written "shorter".......?
Aside from these minor quibbles, it was a quite well done explanation.
+Nihil obstat. Imprimatur+