Re: pronunciation on malloc thing

 James Kanze <>
Mon, 06 Aug 2007 11:46:17 -0000
On Aug 6, 8:39 am, "Default User" <> wrote:

James Kanze wrote:

On Aug 5, 7:30 am, "Default User" <> wrote:

That may be true in your area, but here the first syllable of
"character" is the same as "care". Are you in an area where
Mary/merry/marry are not the same, perhaps?

Where is your area?

I'm in St. Louis, which is a "Mary is merry is marry" region.

I grew up north of Chicago. My mother is
from Atlanta. Both regions use a very open short a (IPA &) in
character, and this is the only sound given in all of the
dictionaries I have access to. (And yes, I've always
distinguished between Mary/merry/marry. And of course, the
dictionaries give "standard" pronounciation, which also
distinguishes between the three.)

You are incorrect about the dictionaries. Merriam-Webster
gives multiple pronunciations for the trio, including one
common one, "mer-E".

The American Heritage Dictionary only gives one for each.
Different each time. I'm not too sure what Merriam-Webster (or
the American Heritage Dictionary, for that matter) is actually
documenting; intuitively, I would say that if some significant
dialects make a phonemic distinction, then the difference is
phonemic, even if other dialects pronounce both phonemes
identically. (But the issue is significantly more complicated
than that. Thus, for example, the merging of /&/ and /e/ may
only occur before an r, with the dialect regularly
distinguishing them elsewhere.) And that normally, in a
dictionary, I would expect only the phonemics, and not all of
the phonetic variants.

My understanding of the question was that there were three
separate phonemes involved, but that certain regions regularly
pronounced two (or all three) of the phonemes identically.

Any real personal experience, of course, is limited by the fact
that I've not actually lived in the United States for close to
40 years. Language varies in time, and my appreciation of it as
a youth is not what it is now either. I can't ever remember
having heard that Mary/merry/marry might not be distinctive
until recently; that could be because the language has changed,
and the merging of the sounds is recent, but it could just as
well be because I didn't pay any attention to that sort of thing
when I was (very) young.

Similarly, it lists the similar sounding versions of "care" and
"character", 'ker and 'ker-ik-t&r respectively.

Again, American Heritage gives only one for each: [k&r@t@r] and
[keIr] (transcribed into IPA---both the Merriam-Webster and the
American Heritage dictionaries actually use something of their
own invention). This is the way I learned it, back in the early
1960's, a little north of Chicago. My mother (from Georgia)
didn't pronounce things the way I heard them in school---in fact,
some of my school friends had trouble understanding her
English---but she also made this distinction in the vowels.

That also shows that "care" and "merry/marry/mary" have the
same vowel sound, which is what you find in this area.

Just curious, but would "scary" and "carry" rhyme where you are?
To me, they have radically different sounds. But then, so do
Mary and marry. Or care and character:-). In all three cases,
the first has a long medium high medium closed front vowel,
trailing into a high closed front semi-vowel at the end (making
it a dipthong), where as the second has a short, relatively low,
relatively open front vowel, something between an a and an open
e in other western European languages.

And is the distinction also lost if the vowel isn't followed by
an r, e.g. Kate and cat, or bat, bait and bet?

James Kanze (GABI Software)
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