Rom wrote:I was just reading an article that said that the fronting of /uw/ coupled with the low back merger were the main defining characteristics of the West. (or at least that's what I got out of it.) Is the Pacific Northwest the only region in the West that doesn't have the fronting of /uw/ or are there other areas in the West that also lack this feature?
Here /u/ is very clearly fronted, which is one way that Pacific Northwest speech is distinguished from Californian speech. We both have the "cot-caught" merger (which is generally true thruout the Western US and Canada) but our /u/ and /o/ are typically much fronter than a typical PCNW realization of it.
Now that you mention it, I'm quite positive the cot-caught merger hasn't taken over in Manitoba. If I understand correctly, wouldn't the merger mean that the sounds in "cot" and "caught" sound the same? To my ears, they sound slightly different (the "au" sound being further forward and unrounded, while the "o" is further back and rounded). I'm not sure why I hadn't noticed this before. Maybe it was too obvious and I'm kind of used to it now...
What I notice is that people who tend to watch a lot of TV (i.e. American media) have the cot-caught merger, while I'd say 90% of professors native to Manitoba don't have it (maybe because they tend to overemphasize their Canadian accent). I suppose a lot of it has to do with the relative isolation of the towns, etc, because I tend to hear the "non-merging" from non-Winnipegers; people from the farm communities south of here. Funnily enough, I haven't heard the cot-caught disinction from northern Manitobans (by that I mean, who live north of Winnipeg - esp Gimli, Swan River, Thompson, Churchill, Flin Flon), and almost exclusively from people native to - Steinbach, Morden, and a few small towns.
On another note, I remember first arriving in Winnipeg, and suddenly realizing the dialect was quite different from North Dakota (similar in many ways, but the one thing that stood out was the "o" sound) - because in ND, the cot-caught merger is dominant, while here there's almost an even mixture (since a lot of Winnipegers originally came from surrounding farm communities).
Also, of course the "ah" sound is not a nasal (does that make sense?) in Manitoba like it would be in the MW US (this sound can be heard esp in "Wisco
nsin", while here the "o" is far back in the throat).