Re: pronunciation on malloc thing

 James Kanze <>
Mon, 06 Aug 2007 20:37:12 -0000
On Aug 6, 6:31 pm, "Default User" <> wrote:

James Kanze wrote:

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.

Fortunately, it's not the only dictionary. A goodly part of the US is
MIMIM territory.

So I've read. It surprises me some; I don't think that this was
the case 35 or more years ago.

Still, the question remains: is the dictionary specifying
phonetics or phonemics. If it's trying for phonetics, I fear
it's a hopeless cause; there are so many small variations in
pronounciation. If it's phonemics... Is there really a phonemic
difference, or is it just the case of certain speakers realizing
different phonemes in the same way, at least in some contexts.

Different each time. I'm not too sure what Merriam-Webster (or
the American Heritage Dictionary, for that matter) is actually

Differing pronounciations for the words, some of which are same, and
sounding similar to words like "pair" or "rare".

By "pronounciation", do you mean phonetic or phonemic. From a
quick glance, I didn't have the impression, for example, that it
reflected the different pronunciations of the -er ending. (A
very old distinction: New England and the south east don't
distinguish between [@r] and [@], where as most of the rest of
the country does. Or at least, that was the case 35 years ago.)

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.

Yes, usually called a merger. For instance, many areas in the western
part of the US have lost the distinction between "Don" and "Dawn". In
alt.usage.english terms this is DID (Don is Dawn). St. Louis remains a
DIND area.

That's also been around for awhile. Even when I was there:-).
But as you say, regional; there were two phonemes, but some
regions (not the ones I lived in) realized them in the same way.

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.

Ah, well.

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).

Sounds like AH is behind the times in recording actual usage.

Or... They're recording pure phonemes. Even Merriam-Webster has
to describe how different phonemes are realized differently in
different areas. The final -er in "father" is (or was---but I
think it still is) pronounced very differently in the south east
than in the mid-west, but it's still the same phoneme. And the
fact that the final -er in father is pronounced the same as the
final -a in opera in Georgia doesn't mean that there are two
possible phonemic pronunciations of one of the words; it simply
means that in some areas, the realization of the two phonemes
has merged.

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?


Interesting. Now I'm really curious. You wouldn't happen to
know of a site which had more information about this.
Particularly concerning the history of this evolution; as I
said, I don't recall having heard about it when I was living in

Of course, if scary and carry rhyme, then the question as to
whether "char" rhymes with the first sylable of scary, or the
first of carry, is rather awkward. I've always pronounced it
like the first sylable of carry. If this is the same as "care",
then we are both right. For your dialect.

(BTW: I don't mean anything pejorative by dialect here. I just
don't know a more appropriate word.)

To me, they have radically different sounds. But then, so do
Mary and marry. Or care and character:-).

Years ago on another newsgroup, someone pointed out a big mistake
they'd spotted on the TV ER. It seems that one of the characters was
named "Kerry" according to her ID, but they pronounced it "Carrie". To
which many wondering what the person was talking about.

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?


OK. So it's a conditional merging.

James Kanze (GABI Software)
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