On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 14:21, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> "hold on, that very first sentence is already wrong! I know for a
> fact that my speech has changed already during my life!". Indeed, when I was
> a child, I still routinely distinguished /a/ and /ɑ/ in my French idiolect,
> as did my parents and most people around me.

I was a bit surprised to learn that my father used to distinguish /w/
and /W/ as separate phonemes (the "which witch" distinction).

I tried to create that distinction in my speech when talking to my
daughter, since to me, making the distinction has a certain cachet;
when I mentioned this to my father at one point, he said that he used
to make that distinction.

What makes it surprising to me is that he's fairly
conservative/prescriptivist in his views on language, and it seemed
unlikely to me that this distinction would be something he would give
up. Yet he has; I grew up without that distinction, and my main input
on English here in Germany was from him.

(Though having affected that distinction for so long, it's starting to
become natural, to the point that I don't find jokes such as whales
getting weighed at a "whale-weigh station" so funny any more since
"whale" and "wail" aren't homophonous for me any more. Odd, since I
had just about decided to give up making the distinction, since my
daughter wasn't picking it up from me and I decided it was a bit fake
in the first place and not all that "necessary".)

I can't think of any unconscious changes in my speech, though.

Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]>