Remarks on vowels (and other vowel-like things)

Tense/lax in cooccurrence restrictions

Rogers tries to explain many cooccurrence restrictions in English as resulting from the tense/lax contrast. But his generalizations are subject to a great deal of dialect variation and there are a number of exceptions (e.g., "only lax vowels before [S]").

For example, there is no contrast between [i] and [I] before [r], or between [u] and [U], or [e] and [E]. Rogers argues that it must be the tense vowel that occurs in this environment, assuming that all vowels before [r] must have the same tenseness and that diphthongs are tense.

There is in fact a great deal of dialect variability in this. In my own speech, can only occur after lax vowels (or occur syllabically):

poor[pUr] or [pOr]
(So my phonological system must treat [A] as a lax vowel.) [r] cannot occur after diphthongs, but must be syllabic in a second syllable:

Glides as non-syllabic vowels

The usual assumption is that all vowels are syllabic unless otherwise marked. The off-glides of diphthongs should be marked as non-syllabic, either using a consonant symbol or a non-syllabic diacritic. There can even be meaning contrasts in some dialects between syllabic and non-syllabic:

Clear and dark Ls

A "dark" L is a voiced, oral consonant made with two constriction gestures:
  1. a alveolar lateral approximant [l]
  2. a dorso-velar approximant [turned-m-tail]
Rogers 3.7

We could symbolize by putting the "velarized" diacritc after [l], but it's a common enough sound to have a special symbol: [l-tilde].

Warning: Don't confuse this with the voiceless lateral fricative symbol, [voiceless-l]. Remember to try the calligraphy exercises in the back of Rogers.

Why would it make sense to use dark L after back vowels?

Canadian raising

In many dialects of Canadian English, the diphthongs of the noun house and the verb house are different.
house (verb)[hawz]
house (noun)[h^ws]
A similar difference exists between eyes and ice:

Before voiceless consonants, the starting point of the diphthongs is raised from [a] to [^].

Rogers 4.2

Why does it make sense for this raising to happen before voiceless consonants rather than before voiced?

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