On Wed, 2010-09-08 at 14:05 -0400, Nathan Unanymous wrote: > How did English <u> get to be pronounced both /U/ and /V/? I have a conlang > with a similar vowel system, in which /U/ and /V/ are allophonic with rules so > complex an entire book was written on it by my conworld's linguist. The sequence of changes in Southern England was cut: kʊt > kɤt > kʌt > kət (USA), kat (UK) foot: fuːt > fʊt This is a good example of the falsity of the Neogrammarian theory. If English were an ancient, imperfectly attested language, we would explain the contrast of "butcher" [bʊt] and "butter" [bat] as dialect mixture. But we cannot have a rule that /ʊ/ remains after a labial, making "butter" a loan, because there is no English dialect from which it could be borrowed (having [pat] for "put"). And we cannot explain all cases of /ʊ/ after a labial as loanwords from the north, because there are no exceptions in odd corners of Cornwall or Sussex; it's ridiculous to expect that every village in Southern England would have borrowed northern forms for common words like "butcher, pull, full", even where they maintained local forms like /viːld/ "field".