Content-Type: text/shitpost

Subject: Grayeeuts
Path: you​!your-host​!walldrug​!prime-radiant​!computer​!hal9000​!plovergw​!plovervax​!shitpost​!mjd
Date: 2018-01-31T18:04:14
Newsgroup: talk.mjd.grits
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/shitpost

I recently wrote:

lately [my brain] has been considering the triphthong in an exaggerated Southern U.S. pronunciation of “grits”: something like “gray-ee-uhts”.

But I wasn't sure if I was making this up, or if my brain was being a supercilious Yankee asshole. I considered adding that I associated that pronunciation with Louisiana, but I was afraid I was already too far out on a limb.

But it seems that I wasn't making it up, at least not this time, and that it is associated with Louisiana, among other places. I did a search for “u.s. regional dialect "triphthong"” (note nothing in there about ‘Southern’) and found that this regional triphthongization is a thing everyone knows about. (“Triphthongization”, wow.) Dialect blog says:

Coastal/Lowland Southern English

Vowel breaking. This means that in words with short vowels like cat and dress, these vowels can turn into diphthongs (or even triphthongs). So cat can become IPA kæjət for example (i.e. “ka-jut”).

Dialect blog may not be a reliable or authoritative source, but such sources are easy to find. For example, Sounding Southern (Rachael Meghan Allbritten, 2011) says, of a 24-year-old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, “Sierra has some extremely high /ɪ/ tokens such as her triphthongal kid”. (The vowel there is the same as in grits.) Later on she mentions further examples: cat [kæɪjət], lip [lɪjəp], hill [hɪjəl], ill ɪjəl], bet [bɛjət], hell [hɛjəl], and cents [sɪjəns], and others.

I need to be careful not to let this confirmation go to my head. I am not in general very good at hearing this kind of thing, or at understanding what I have heard. Allbritten says:

To non-linguists, and indeed many linguists, the Southern Drawl is associated with or equivalent to the oft parodied pronunciation of a word like cat as “cayut” or fed as “feyud.”

My current non-understanding of phonology and IPA notation is a serious hole in my knowledge, which continually prevents me from understand other things as well as I want to. I should make a bigger effort to fix this.