By Barrett Chase on Sep 25, 2011 in Geeky
Map of American English Dialects
Minnesota Pronunciation Samples — Mayor Don Ness and “miner’s wife” Mildred Opacich represent Duluth. (By “represent” I mean that they are used as examples, not as the whole of the study by any means.)
I can’t even puzzle out some of these…
‘On rhymes with Don’ vs ‘On rhymes with Dawn’. As far as I’m concerned, Don and Dawn are 100% homophonic.
Same with ‘pin’ and ‘pen’… I’ve lived and traveled all over the country, and have no idea what the alternate one is supposed to sound like.
You see these neat little red islands of “other dialect divisions” -- surely areas of detailed study amongst a map that is greatly generalized, probably due to the paucity of in-depth linguistic data. The neatest little one is right on the Iron Range, and we can thank Dr. Mike Linn, recently retired from UMD and author of ‘Origin and Development of the Iron Range Dialect (1988)’. Mike identified something like 30+ different dialects just in this small geographic area.
I was lucky enough to study cultural linguistics a few semesters with Mike before he retired, and he was absolutely brilliant, his experiences were endless, and you could talk for hours with him, and feel completely comfortable doing it. There was a post earlier in the year detailing his retirement and some accomplishments:
And, Matilda, hopefully properly using some knowledge gained from Mike: pin (/pɪn/) and pen (/pɛn/) have separate ɪ & ɛ phonemes..i.e. lit and let are a more distinguishable pair of words with the same phonemes as pin and pen. don (/dɒn/) and dawn (/dɔn/) also have separate phonemes, ɒ & ɔ, respectively, an open-mid versus open vowel (see: international phonetic alphabet). What makes up these seemingly indistinguishable differences is how the words are sounded in the human speech anatomy, and you have to factor in your aural perception of sounds and your own dialects that you possess.
So, thanks again Mike. Your works and passed on knowledge lives on!
p.s. my ironic poor use of grammar was purely unintentional…
An interesting little tidbit I learned in linguistics class is that short e sounds like short i in many American dialects only when it precedes a nasal consonant. That is, only in front of n or m or ng. (To demonstrate that those are nasal, try saying a word with m or n in it with your nose pinched shut.)
So, a person with a typical southern dialect can hear a difference between pit and pet, but not between pin and pen.
I wonder whether the language samples would be more representative of the population if they weren’t of people giving speeches or appearing on TV. How does being on stage like that change your speech?
Well, I’m not certain of this, Beverly, but I think the clips are chosen to illustrate certain aspects of the dialects. And in the case of “miner’s wife” Mildred Opacich, the clip is an audio recording made of an ordinary citizen by a researcher.
From the one linguistics class I took in college, I remember learning that most dialect study is done by graduate students simply travelling around the backroads of the country interviewing people in their homes.
That settles it! I’m finally starting a maps blog. While this map is loaded with great information, it could be so much more tidy.
Cool link nonetheless! Thanks Barret, this has been an inspiration.
Oh Jeez, dont cha know, der goes the afternoooon
It’s all nonsense eh?
Thanks blue newt, I think I get it now!
Thanks Stephanos, I saw Don and Dawn exactly the same. Lit and let though, hmm…
I have a friend from Australia with very precise diction. It’s really interesting to hear him say certain words. I often hear him enunciate certain vowels clearly, and realize I slop over that particular syllable.
Associated Press Minnesota Pronunciation Guide
This just popped up online, thought it would add to the thread.
Regional accents thrive in U.S. — but is that a good thing?
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