For some reason, I can’t sleep tonight (this morning). My loss is the internet’s dubious gain, I suppose.

I have noticed what is either an ongoing phonological change in my dialect of English or an indictment of my elocution. It’s a difference between my speech and that of my parents and, judging by radio and television, most of their generation. Consider the following:

  • poor
  • pour

My parents pronounce “pour” to rhyme with “paw” (as speakers of a non-rhotic dialect of British English, none of us pronounces final R sounds). However, they pronounce “poor” as a diphthong resembling “poo ah”.

I, on the other hand, pronounce “pour” and “poor” both to rhyme with “paw”. It makes linguistic sense that the more complex sound would tend to change to a simpler vowel over time, but I don’t know any more about it at the moment.

However, given that I share an office with a Japanese, a Malaysian and a Belgian, I’m going to have to wait until I can find some native speakers of English to interrogate!