American English Phonetics

Another American English Faculty Project

The lax front vowels /ɪ, ɛ, æ/ tend to be pronounced with a glide toward [ə] in some Southern (American) dialects, particularly before nasals, fricatives, and lenis plosives. So as a result of SOUTHERN BREAKING, we get [rɪᵊb, ɪᵊn, bɛᵊd, tɛᵊn, hæᵊm, pæᵊs] for rib, in(n), bed, ten, ham, pass. In addition GA /æ/ may be diphthongized in the South to [æɪ], so that pass may sound like [pʰæᵊs].

This phenomenon should be kept distinct from Eastern æ-TENSING (see above), and PRE-1 BREAKING, to be discussed in the chapter on sonorants. The latter rule gives pronunciations like [miᵊɫ, hiᵊɫ, pʰuᵊɫ, meᵊɫ] for meal, heal, pool, fail, and mail.