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On Thu, Apr 15, 2004 at 08:14:34AM -0400, John Cowan wrote:
> The familiar

Not to me. :)

> Wells lexical sets for vowels (KIT, DRESS, TRAP, LOT, STRUT, BATH,
> CLOTH, NURSE, FLEECE, FACE, PALM, THOUGHT, GOAT, GOOSE, PRICE, CHOICE,
> MOUTH, NEAR, SQUARE, START, NORTH, FORCE, CURE, and the weak vowels
> HAPPY, LETTER, and COMMA) make 27 distinctions,

I only count 26 . . .

> but that's almost certainly overkill.

Indeed!  Does any 'lect make all of those distinctions?  I can't even
imagine what the distinction between "north" and "force" or "lot" and
"cloth" might be - something conditioned by the /T/?   Then again, my
'lect seems to have relatively few distinctions at 16:

	KIT = NEAR
	DRESS = SQUARE
	TRAP = BATH
	LOT = CLOTH = PALM = THOUGHT
	STRUT
	NURSE = CURE = LETTER
	FLEECE = HAPPY
	FACE
	GOAT
	GOOSE
	PRICE
	CHOICE
	MOUTH
	START
	NORTH = FORCE
        COMMA

Now, the vowels of "kit" and "near", and likewise "dress" and "square",
are not *quite* the same, because of the sonorant nature of the [\r] (my
'lect is rhotic); the vowels sort of glide into the [r\], turning into
quasi-diphthongs.  But the distinction is much subtler than that between
diferent lines in my list, and if it were admitted, then other
distinctions would crop up that aren't included in the list at all -
such as BATH (= BACK) vs. BAG (= BANG).

-Mark