----- Original Message -----
From: Tom Wier <[log in to unmask]>
To: Multiple recipients of list CONLANG <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, August 13, 1999 10:16 PM
Subject: Re: A question

> Patrick Dunn wrote:
> > My point is, I want to make a new English.  But I don't know what kind
> > sound changes are currently occuring in our language.  Does anyone know?
> >
> > My clumsy non-linguist ear hears a dropping of final /s/ and /z/, an
> > ellision (is that the right word?) of dentals after nasels
> Do you mean things like unstressed "can't"?  In my area, that's not so
> much a loss of the dental, or even a change to a glottal stop, but rather
> an unreleased dental stop.  The stop's burst isn't as apparent, so it

I would give words such as candidate [k{n@deit] as examples, and of course
"want to" which has become "wanna" [wan@].

> > , and a conversion of unstressed /u/ into /a/.
> Could you give an example of that? Also, do you mean /@/ rather than /a/?
> If this latter is the case, that too is a fairly common characteristic of
> English dialects, and may have been around longer than the Southern
> phenomenon above (probably has).
> >  So "I don't want you to go to the
> > park."  Might come out /ai don wan ja ta go ta da pak./
> Around here, that'd be /ai dont] wVn tS@ t@ gou t@ D@ par=k/ .

I would say [ai do~? wantSu t@ gou t@ D@ pVrk].

> > What I want to know is, what general trends is english going through.
> > instance, are vowels getting higher, fronter, backer, etceteraer?  Is it
> > my imagination, or are /th/ and /dh/ going away
> Yes, in some dialects it *is* disappearing.  Some time ago there was
> on this list about the recent change in British urban dialects of /T/ -->
/f/ and
> /D/ --> /v/, such that "both" becomes [b@uf] and "brother" becomes [brVv@]
> in these dialects.  I'm not sure what kind of conditioning there might be;
> anyone know if it doesn't occur word-initially?
> But in the US, I have noticed no indication of such trends.  Such dialects
> where this may have occurred in the past (notably the change in the
dialect of lower
> class New York speech to /t/ and /d/, respectively) seem to be being
leveled out
> due to education and other class influences (if you're *really*
interested, I think
> you can check William Labov, as I believe he has done some work on the New
> example [speaking of whom, you might want to abide by his comment that in
> it has historicly been the vowels that change, not the consonants]).

In at least some varieties of African-American speech, the dental fricatives
are realized as labiodental as well.

> (I don't know of any other examples of this in the English speaking world,
> so I can't comment on other countries)
> One other phenomenon I think *will* come to completion is the loss of
> /w_0/ as a phoneme in English, which used to characterize the difference
> "weather" and "whether".  I think all standard dialects (except perhaps
the educated
> speech of Scotland) have already done away with this, and in the US at
least it survives
> only in a few regional varieties, mostly rural ones.

I get annoyed when my mother and grandmother occasionally say /hw/, because
to me it seems too formal or something. I thought that was actually a pretty
common characteristic in American English.