/Vwl/ Systems

Josef Fruehwald (2014)


Dinkin (2013) proposed that /æl/ has merged to /awl/ in the Philadelphia dialect. He argued that:

  1. /l/ has replaced /w/ as the offglide target for /aw/.
  2. This facilitated the merger of /æl/ to /awl/.
I extend this argument to /uwl/ and /owl/. Using vowel trajectory data from the Philadelphia Neighborhood corpus (Labov & Rosenfelder, 2011, Rosenfelder et al, 2014), I argue that
  1. /uwl/ and /owl/ have different glide targets from /uw/ and /ow/.
  2. Their glide target is probably /l/.
This means that the the process affecting /uw, ow, aw/ can be generalized to one phonological process.
  • Vw → Vl / __l
This is an interesting example of the phonological class [Vw] doing double duty:
  1. Defining a set of vowels to undergo a phonological process.
  2. Defining a set of vowels to undergo a diachronic phonetic change (Labov, Rosenfelder & Fruehwald, 2013).

Presented at NWAV 43

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