Talk:Era - error (pronunciation)

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The assertion that "many American speakers realize them in the same way" is at best misleading and at worst an error. In order to realize these words the same way, a speaker has to be non-rhotic, AND pronounce the first vowel like the vowel in "mare" rather than the vowel in "mere", AND have the "merry-Mary" merger. This particular combination of features in a single dialect is extremely rare. Non-rhotic speech in the U.S. is limited to bits of the South, the New York City area, Eastern New England, and speakers of African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). New Yorkers and New Englanders keep "Mary" and "merry" distinct, as do most speakers of AAVE. So the only American who would pronounce "era" and "error" as homophones would be a smattering of Southerners who are both non-rhotic (a small minority) and for whom "era" has the vowel of "mare" rather than "mere", and the small proportion of AAVE speakers for whom the same is true and who merge "merry" and "Mary". The total proportion of Americans fitting these categories is below five percent.150.237.47.251 17:16, 2 August 2010 (BST)

Interesting. I'd be happy to evolve a colleague who knows more about US English than I do - it's one of many areas where the current two of us who are writing this website are short of expertise. Can I ask who you are, and whether you would welcome being involved in AWE? It is possible to register yourself under a name; your URL suggests me to me that your at Hull University.
You'll notice that I've changed 'many' to 'some'. Perhaps I may be forgiven a rather crass assumption when I say that this article (page) in AWE dates back to a single pedagogic encounter - as far as I recall, she was white Southern. I have no more detail (memory!). I try to write AWE on evidence of actual problems of English usage that have presented themselves.
PeterWilson 19:09, 2 August 2010 (BST) (Founder & manager of AWE)