Talk:Phonological history of English diphthongs

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Moved from the old Talk:Rein-rain merger page[edit]

day and die are distinguishable in Australian and New Zealand English.

it wouldbe most pertinent to provide the transcriptions. Circeus 23:27, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

I'll give you some in SAMPA [d{I] & [dAi]. Details of AusE & NZE phonology can be found on their pages. Perhaps a transcription here wouldn't be bad but I wonder whether this whole joke should be here at all. Jimp 17:30, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

I posted the following elsewhere, but the page was turned into a redirect shortly after I posted it and the talk wasn't moved:

Can someone point me to a clear source which states that the distinction described ever existed? Most of this section seems to be given over to a joke about Australian English, which didn't even exist when this distinction was supposedly made. --JHJ 12:02, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

I think the joke about AusE shouldn't be here, but I'd like to repeat my request for sources. --JHJ 17:33, 5 January 2006 (UTC)

I think it's fairly uncontroversial that ei/ey and ai/ay represented separate phonemes in early Middle English. Certainly Old English weġ "way" and dæġ "day" were different. Wells (1982: 192) says they were /ɛi/ and /æi/ in early Middle English but had probably merged to /ɛi/ by the fourteenth century. --Angr (tɔk) 18:26, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
That shows that there was a distinction, but it doesn't show that the modern English spellings ei/ey and ai/ay reflect it, or that rain and rein were a minimal pair.--JHJ 20:31, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
That's true. You'd have to see how the words were spelled before the 14th century. --Angr (tɔk) 20:48, 5 January 2006 (UTC)
I've removed the joke. Jimp 06:38, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, rain is from OE regn, which would suggest that it was like way, and rein is from French. So I don't see a lot of evidence for the claim that the modern English spellings reflect a Middle English /ei/ vs. /ai/ distinction, with rein/rain as a minimal pair, which is what the section currently seems to me to be suggesting.--JHJ 12:25, 8 January 2006 (UTC)
Check out this link and go to the diphthongs ai and ei section and they have samples of words with /ai/ and others with /ei/. 22:54, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
For the existence of a distinction, I'm happy with Angr's Wells reference regarding way and day. It's some of the other claims I wasn't convinced by. Checking etymologies suggests that vain/vein probably was a minimal pair, so that's an improvement. The bit I'm still not happy with is the spelling bit: it could easily be taken as implying that the modern English spellings reflect the early Middle English distinction, but the way/day example and the history of rain suggest that it is not as simple as that. Also the bit on the subsequent history needs to mention the pane/pain merger.--JHJ 09:50, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

The joke[edit]

Because the diphthong /æɪ/ sounds very similar to the /aɪ/ that most accents have in words like rice, site, pie etc., a common joke told by some non-Australians is A very old Australian tennis player visits Varanasi (India), one of the most sacred places on the Ganga river, where many Indians burn their dead, and send the ashes on the great river. He stops at one of the ghats. An Indian priest approches him and asks:

"Did you come here to die?"

The tourist answers: "No, I came here Yesterdie...."

In reality words like day and die are distinguishable in Australian and New Zealand English.


The sections on scientific-smoothing (and maybe poet-smoothing, I can't remember) are in Well's Accents of English in the first volume. My school library has it, but it's on loan right now. If anyone has access to this book, you could put the citation in; otherwise, I'll do it once the book is returned. Makerowner 01:21, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

African American etc[edit]

Aside from the fact that this 'vernacular' doesn't exist, Anyone who's been to America will tell you the "rod-ride" merger is a southern thing, with no racial affiliation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:35, 27 May 2013 (UTC)