Sunday, 5 September 2010

Are you paw?


Why do so many German students of English say /pʊə/ for <poor> and not /pɔː/?
According to the LPD almost 80% of the younger generation of General British speakers use the latter variant, but more than 90% of my German students use the former one. Probably, one of the reasons is that they were taught English by teachers whose English-speech-forming years were the 50ies and 60ies of the last century when the diphthongal pronunciation was much more rampant than it is nowadays. 
Should students worry? Actually not if they prefer to belong to the minority of native speakers of General British. If, however, they want to sound young and fresh they may want to switch to the monophthongal version.
BTW: If you're shore you saw the Shore on the shore, rest ashored that yore impression was caused by yore paw vision. (Can you spot the intrusive r-sound in the previous sentence?)


  1. If one looks at the evidence from these dictionaries, it seems that the popularity of poor as took something of a nosedive towards the end of the last century tho /pʊə/ but it’s far from outlandish still. I’ve never sed anything but /pɔː/ myself but I hesitated to recommend it in 1972. I wouldnt now.

    OED3 June 2010-09-08 Brit. /pɔː/, /pʊə/, U.S. /pʊ(ə)r/, /pɔ(ə)r/
    ODP 2002 ditto

    OED2 1989 (pʊə(r), pɔə(r))
    OED1 1907 pʊə

    LPD1 1990 & 3 2008 pɔː pʊə (2008 Pie-chart BrE 81% ɔː)
    CEPD 2008 ɔː, ʊə (US ʊ)

    EPD 1917 to 1956 ʊə, ɔə, ɔː
    EPD 1977 ditto

    CPD 1972 pʊə
    LDCE 1987 pʊə

  2. Sorry
    /pʊə/ shdve appeared before "took"

  3. I think that this trend was aided by hypercorrections. Many dialects of Britain used pʊə in "pour" and "pore" as well. As they were used to saying pour/pore/poor as homophones, they switched them all to pɔː.

    Same for more/moor.