Here’s a follow up to the [aj] discussion – I promised my own formant plot in an earlier post.
It’s below, including a trajectory of the [aj] in five against the vowel in cot, and it appears as if the nucleus of the diphthong indeed goes through the same space as the plain back vowel.
It might be more precise for me to use [ɑ] for cot and the nucleus of five to indicate a back low vowel, but these measurements are probably not precise enough to be sure.
Red Xs: trajectory for [ɑj] in five.
Blue circles: trajectory for [ʌj] in fife.
I tried lining up the colours and numbers with Mark Liberman’s plot, except there was no point in me doing both cot and caught as they’re homophonous for me. (Though given my recent record maybe we should test that too!!)
The plot shows that the nucleus of my five diphthong is also as low and back as anything else I’ve got, if not more so. So Mark clearly is right. Someone should run an ultrasound to test this. Anyway, I still think my excuse (for saying [aj] is usually central and not back) stands — given the backness of my own, eveything I’ve heard (lately) is comparatively more central. I should be more empathetic.
Update 3/20/2005: In a recent Language Log discussion (regarding the occasional reanalysis of tighty-whiteys as tidy-whiteys), Mark Liberman links to this post and the ones leading up to it, because of the shared topic of diphthong raising. In particular, Mark situates the discussion of the tighty -> tidy reanalysis in the interaction of diphthong-raising (the same kind discussed here) with flapping. (Basically, the reanalysis is only possible in non-raising dialects).
I thought I would direct curious link followers to some other discussions of these two topics that have appeared in phonoloblog. Flapping came up in a second-language theme, initiated by Eric here and followed up with numerous comments; the issue was the manner in which Eric’s EL2 relatives rendered the English flap. There was also a thread about flaps and taps starting with an observation Eric made about <a href=”Spanish spoken by Anglophones at the DNC, and followed up by Travis Bradley.
Flapping also came up in the now-classic flap debate discussed at great length throughout early 2005, in which a number of us philosophized over the underlying nature of non-alternating flaps such as those in ladder.
Diphthong raising came up again in a post I made about the complicated nature of the conditioning environment. It produced a lengthy comment thread (a phonoloblog record?) which will stand as long as phonoloblog’s comment function is disabled. The discussion never touched on underlying representations, though.