chapter  2
Middle English Short Vowels
Pages 28

In Norfolk and East Anglia, on the other hand, unrounding is restricted to ME / o / in unconditioned position, for example:

ME / o / > [a] ME / o / + /f ,s ,6 / > [o:] ME /a u / > [d:]

2.14 Effects of lengthening and unrounding on ME /o / and ME /au/ The phonetic effects of lengthening and unrounding differ from area to area. In the south west Midlands both ME / o / and ME /a u / have unrounded descendants, for example:

ME / o / > [a] ME / o / + /f ,s ,0 / > [a:] ME /a u / > [a:]

2.15 Structural significance of the developments of ME /o / and ME /au/ (Map 15A ) Because of the overlapping developments ME /a u / and ME /o / , the structural position is rather com­ plex. However, a basic distinction can be drawn between those dialects in which / r / is retained postvocalically and those in which it is lost. (a) Dialects in which Irl is lostpost-vocalically These dialects show a wide variety of systems based

7 ME / o / (Isolative) [oc~a:l

55-70 40-54 25-39 10-24

ME / o / (Isolative) [ce~oe:] • 70-84 • 55-69 • 40-54 • 25-39

on two phonemes contrasted by length. The way in which these phonemes are distributed varies con­ siderably (see Map 15A). A three-way contrast appears in south Durham ( /o /~ /o : /~ /a : / ) . The developments suppose the evolution of long allophones in certain positions varying from area to area. The difference became phonemic with the loss of / r / in post-vocalic position, long allophones merging with the reflex of ME /a u /. (b) Dialects in which Irl is retainedpost-vocalically Two areas may be distinguished — the North and the South (see Map 12). (i) Northern area ME /o / is represented by / o / in all positions contrasting with /o :~ a :/ from ME /a u /, with some neutralisation of the opposition before / r / in most of the area and before /f,s ,0 / in south Lancashire. (ii) Southern area There is a strong tendency to merge ME / o / and ME /a u / in a single phoneme of variable length. ME /o / may have allophones [D:~a:] ocurring before /f,s,0,k,g,r/ and sporad­ ically before other consonants, and allophones [o~a] in other positions. ME /a u / has allophones [a:—a:]. Since ME / o / never occurs finally, poten­ tial contrasts will only arise in medial or initial position but will often be neutralised in this position (before /f,s ,0 / regularly, before /g ,k / frequently and before other consonants intermittently).12 In positions where contrast is possible, certain dialects have intrusive / r / , e.g. Shropshire [dor:tsr], in which /o : / is reinterpreted as /o r / .