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Production and perception of the Pin-Pen merger

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 March 2021

Martha Austen*
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University, 300 Oxley Hall, 1712 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210
*
Author for correspondence: Martha Austen, Email: austen.14@osu.edu

Abstract

This study presents the first US-wide survey of the pin-pen merger since Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006). Production and perception data were collected from 277 speakers from across the country, with perception-only data from an additional 94 speakers; these data largely replicated previous findings about the social and geographic distribution of the merger. An examination of production and perception data together showed that near merger—in which speakers cannot hear the difference between pin and pen words, yet pronounce them differently—was relatively common, although this phenomenon has received little attention in the literature on the merger. Additionally, an investigation of how merged speakers phonetically realized their merged pin-pen vowel revealed that, in contrast to previous findings, speakers were equally as likely to merge to [ɛ] (tw[ɛ]n for twin) as they were to [i] (h[i]n for hen). However, there was no apparent social or geographic patterning to this phonetic realization.

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Articles
Copyright
© Cambridge University Press 2021

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