University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


This study investigates the utility of examining acoustic trajectory information indicative of gliding in the case of mergers or near-mergers. It presents a sociophonetic analysis of conversational speech from one African American Seattle native, who perceives the pin and pen classes as merged. The study finds no difference (“merger”) between the speaker’s pin and pen classes by F1 or F2 at vowel midpoint. However, phonemic vowel distinctions are preserved in Euclidean distance and duration, and the vowel classes are more distinct pre-nasally than in non-pre-nasal contexts. A regression of the researcher’s perception of distance on vowel class corroborates this pattern. Lastly, multidimensional calculation of overlap using SOAM (Wassink 2006) for a small sample of data from 12 Seattle speakers suggests Seattle African Americans differentiate pin from pen somewhat by the amount of glide, while Seattle Whites do not.