Vowels and Consonants of Southern American English

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Speakers of broad Southern American Pronunciation have easily noticeable vowels. The following are some characterstics (Wells, 1982: 530-552).


Schwa often follows the lax front vowels /ɪ ɛ æ/. For example, lip [lɪəp]; web [wɛəb]; rap [ræəp].

Before /ʃ ʒ g ŋ/ the vowel /ɛ/ may change to /eɪ/, egg, leg (example 5).

The diphthong /ɑɪ/ is often monphthongal /ɑː/ before voiced consonants rise, [rɑːz] (example 11); buy [bɑː] but a diphthong before voiceless consonants rice, [rɑɪs]; bite [bɑɪt].

Our speaker has post-vocalic “r” unlike many speakers from the South. You can hear this in centre, poor and other words. The /t/ disappears in words like center and Atlanta after the /n/ (example 2). Notice the pronunciation of my, leg, thing, poor, something, Y’all, get.

With regard to distinct vocabulary, we have the word yonder. In the case of grammar, notice the redundant use of you in Come get you some.

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