Laundromat dialectology

Via Emily Menon Bender on Facebook, this 6/7/12 Rhymes with Orange cartoon:

The dialectal feature illustrated here is known as “Canadian raising”; it’s a stereotype of Canadian speech.

From Wikipedia:

Canadian raising refers to either of two similar sound changes that occur in a number of North American varieties of the English language, in which certain diphthongs are “raised” before voiceless consonants (e.g., /p/, /t/, /k/, /s/, /f/). The first variant, “classic” Canadian raising, occurs largely in Canadian English and in certain nearby areas of the northern United States, and affects both /aɪ/ and /aʊ/. This results in the stereotypical Canadian pronunciation of about as “aboat” [or “aboot”]. A second variant with a much larger distribution across many parts of the United States affects only /aɪ/, and results in differing pronunciations of the first vowel in the words rider and writer.

The raised variant of /aɪ/ typically becomes [ʌɪ] or [ɐɪ], while the raised variant of /aʊ/ varies by dialect, with [ʌu] more common in the west and a fronted variant [ɛʉ] commonly heard in Central Canada. In any case, the [a]-component of the diphthong changes from a low vowel to a mid-low vowel ([ʌ], [ɐ] or [ɛ]).


4 Responses to “Laundromat dialectology”

  1. Ellen K. Says:

    I don’t get why raising the first part of the diphthong makes it sound like “oo”, which is a monophthong.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      /u/ is not a diphthong, in that it doesn’t have two steady-state components. But it’s not a “pure” vowel, either, in that it has a final rising glide.

      English has only three diphthongs in the narrow sense: /aj aw oj/. The tense vowels /i e u o ɔ/ all have rising offglides, so would be classed as “diphthongal” by some writers.

  2. More Canadian raising « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] a similar cartoon reflection on Canadian raising, see the Rhymes With Orange strip in my “Laundromat dialectology” posting. Bert went on to complain about the common American perception that Canadian raising […]

  3. Today’s dreadful pun « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] of the U.S.) is much more widespread geographically than /aw/-raising (for some discussion, see here, with a later note on /aw/-raising […]

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