13 The GOOSE Lexical Set
The goose lexical set is part of the group of Free vowels that, in most varieties of English, is capable of being in either stressed or unstressed syllables. Because it is a Free vowel, it can exist in a word without a consonant after it, as in shoe, do, clue, skidoo. For the majority of accents, goose is the phoneme that is made with a version of /u/, the close back rounded vowel.
- 🕊Free: can exist without a following consonant
- Can be used in both stressed and unstressed syllables
goose is subdivided into two groups:
- Group Ⓐ, which is the vowel on its own, /u/
- Group Ⓑ, which inserts a “yod” /j/ before the goose vowel, /ju/.
In some accents, Group Ⓑ vowels after an alveolar consonant—that is articulated on the gum ridge /t, d, n, l, s, st, ɹ/—are spoken without the yod, a process known as .
Ⓐ o, oo, oCe, ou
Many of the words within Group Ⓐ are spelled “o” (tomb) or “oo” (doom), or “o” before a consonant (C) with a silent “e” (move), or with “ou” (youth). .
Ⓑ uCe, euC, ew, uiC, iew#, eaut
Words in Group Ⓑ, like due, tutor, news, tuition, review, beautify, can take the so-called “liquid U,” that is /u/ preceded by yod, [ju]. These spellings include “u” before a consonant with a silent “e” (mute), “eu” before a consonant (deuce), “ew” (new), “ui” before a consonant (bruise), “iew” in the word view and words containing view-, and “eaut” in the word beauty and all its derivatives. Note that many accents have undergone so-called “yod dropping”, the omission of the [j] in these Group Ⓑ words.
Group Ⓐ words never take a “liquid U,” so for those who lack liquid U before alveolar consonants, such as in words like tutor, news, tuition, lute, it is essential that you only insert yod in Group Ⓑ words, and not try to insert a yod where it doesn’t belong in Group Ⓐ. For example, you wouldn’t insert a [j] into tool *[tjul]—that’s the pronunciation for tulle, a kind of fabric.
Some phonologists describe the goose set as a glide, sliding up and back, and use the phonemic symbol /uw/ to notate the phoneme’s potential to move in that manner. Other phonologists side with the varieties where goose is a monophthong, /u/. When looking at all the varieties of English, both are possible for goose. Some varieties have more of a diphthongal quality to their usage of the goose set, for example [ə̯ü] in the Cockney accent, while others have more of a pure [u]. The free vowel used in stressed syllables also has a reduced version used in unstressed syllables. Phonologists, especially in the UK, traditionally use the symbol /uː/ with the “long” diacritic mark [ː] for the stressed version of goose, and /u/ for the “short,” unstressed vowel.
In the vast majority of mainstream accents of English, the goose lexical set is pronounced with some variation of the [u] vowel by L1 speakers. In many varieties, that vowel is quite advanced, ranging from the slightly centralized [ü] that you might hear in many parts of North America, to a fully centralized [ʉ] that is heard in Scottish, Ulster, Australian and New Zealand Englishes. Some varieties have more lip rounding [u̹], and others, less [u̜]. The vowel quality for goose Group A and Group Ⓑ cue, is generally the same, regardless of accent; all that is different is the presence or absence of yod [j].
In accents where there is yod-dropping in Group Ⓑ cue, the /j/ is omitted following alveolar consonants made on the gum ridge behind the upper front teeth, [t, d, n, l, s, st], tune, dune, new, lute, suit, stew. In traditional East Anglia accents, this yod-dropping feature is used everywhere, pronouncing beauty as booty. In some parts of the US, where goose is now very fronted and losing its rounding, often in the range of [ɨu̯], words like do and dew have a similar kind of offglide pattern to the “liquid U” of Group Ⓑ.
goose has a reduced quality in unstressed syllables before an unstressed vowel, influence; in some cases this is in the range of foot [ʊ].
As /u/ is common in many of the world’s languages, even those with as few as 3 vowels, there are few substitutions of other vowels. L2 speakers frequently make goose further back in the mouth [u̠] than where many native speakers pronounce it, making the sound seem “darker”. In some languages where there is a rounded front vowel [y], such as in French, occasionally this will be substituted for the goose vowel, especially when there is a cognate word that seems to be the same for the non-native speaker. This is rare, as most languages that have [y] also have some form of [u] as well. For speakers whose L1 lacks a vowel equivalent to foot, goose can occasionally be pronounced with [ʊ] as a hypercorrection, as those speakers cannot easily distinguish between the two (merged) sets.
Word Lists, followed by a pause, or by another vowel
KEY: ◾︎goose in stressed syllable ◽︎goose in unstressed syllable
Ⓐ /u/ Ⓑ /ju/
annual, continuing, manual, Samuel, genuine, tuition, valuation, evaluation, previewing, Jesuit*, Emmanuel
Word Lists, sorted by consonants that follows
KEY: ◾︎goose in stressed syllable ◽︎goose in unstressed syllable
Ⓐ /u/ Ⓑ /ju/
Vowels followed by /r/ and /l/ often are affected by the following consonant. Before /r/, the goose vowel can become cure, often the “centring diphthong” [ʊə̯/ʊɚ̯], or even nurse, [ɜ/ɝ]. Before /l/ goose can move back, towards the articulation of the dark-L, [ɫ].
Ⓐ underlined u, Ⓑ double underlined, ju
- Who knew?
- Who do you* think you are?
- “You do that voodoo that you do so well”—Cole Porter
- The Blue Danube
- Once in a blue moon.
- You loser!
- Do you swear to tell the truth?
- You’ve got some smooth moves.
- Blue suede shoes
- Cool as a cucumber
- “Music has Charms to soothe a savage breast”—Congreve
- You have no excuse
- Computer user
- Brand-new boots
- She dutifully tuned her flute
- An interview at the movie studio
Short with 2-3 words, Ⓐ underlined u, Ⓑ double underlined, ju
- Our dislike of toucans was mutual.
- The jukebox played tunes in the afternoon.
- Sue had a coupon for scuba lessons.
- The groom in the cartoon danced with enthusiasm.
- Using a loofahs is not the solution.
Short with 4-5 words, Ⓐ underlined u, Ⓑ double underlined, ju
- The revolution in computer graphics did nothing to reduce pollution.
- Luna left her swimsuit near the jacuzzi at the university.
- The futuristic mutant in the movie seemed stupid to Ruth.
- Proofreading all those juvenile euphemisms made me want to puke.
- That loser gave me some bougie ˈperfume on Tuesday night.
Medium with 3-4 words, not underlined
- The tourist* enjoyed the local food and culinary treats.
- A poodle pooped near Suhana’s tulips.
- The rhubarb soufflé was served with a blueberry coulis.
- Ewan flew to Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu.
- Lucia made a resolution to consume more juice.
Hard with 4-6 words, not underlined
- Few knew that Hugh played fluegelhorn and studied jiu-jitsu.
- Who’s soothing your bruises and contusions, Julie?
- The hacker spoofed the user’s account in a manoeuvre that proved useless.
- The rumours of the union’s doomed contract resolution were true.
- Luke and Artoo flew to their rendez-vous with Chewie.
Historically, goose itself is actually a merger of the long /o/ set, combined with the long /u/ set. In Middle English, there were two vowels with the same /u/ vowel quality but a different length; the long /u/ became goose, while foot evolved into a new quality, /ʊ/, which is frequently made closer to the centre of the mouth. As a result, there are some accents of English that preserve this historical split, merging the goose words that evolved from the long /o/ with the goat Lexical Set, while the words from the historic long /u/ remain in goose.
The goose-foot Merger is commonplace in Scottish English, and in Ulster varieties of Irish English, where the quality of the vowel is in the range of [ʉ ~ y]. Singapore and Malaysian English also have the merger, but the quality of the vowel is more in the range of [u]. Examples of goose-foot minimal pairs/homophones include: pool/pull, suit/soot, Luke/look, fool/full, who’d/hood, kooky/cookie, shooed/should, wooed/wood. L2 speakers who lack foot in their L1 may want to work to distinguish these sets (see the L2 Contrast Challenges below). If you have this merger, then try to differentiate the goose and foot words in this sentence. Experiment with goose/foot pairs such as: [ʊ̯u̟/ʊ̽, ʉ/ɵ, y/ʊ̜, u̠̹/ɘ̹, ə̯u/ʊ̹ ]
- The pirate took the filthy lucre from the onlookers and hid it in his toque.
- Should we have played boules while they shooed the bull away?
- If Luke looked at Leia full on in the woods, he wouldn’t have wooed her, like a fool.
- I saw a documentary about Brunei, where I learned about their traditional foods and some facts about their small population.
- Before every football tournament, I always include foot care into my routine before I put on my boots.
- “Welcome to the neighbourhood!” I said, as I dropped off cookies for the new dude that moved in.
The Full–Fool Merger similarly merges foot and goose, using the [ʊ] vowel for both before the dark-L [ɫ], found in Pennsylvania around Pittsburgh, and in some Midland areas of the US, the part sandwiched between the accents of the North and the South It is also reported in some Western areas as well. Accents with L-vocalization, where the dark-L becomes a vowel [u ~ o], can also have a similar Full-Fool merger, as heard in Cockney, Estuary, or New Zealand Englishes in words like fool. However, when a syllable beginning with a vowel is added, causing the /l/ to revert to a consonant (as in fooling), the Merge disappears.
- The mule, who’ll drool by the stool, will pull the tool near the school’s pool.
- There was panic at school as they tried to get the pulse of the boy in the pool, who’d hit his skull.
- Jules rewrote the new rules for handling the newly sculpted catapult on display at the park.
- The manager at Woolworths put up a bulletin about the right tools to use on the lunch counter stools.
Yod-Roticization: in the liquid-U of goose Ⓑ words, some Memphis African American English speakers replace the /j/ with /ɹ/, to create words like beautiful [bɹuɾɪfɫ̩], cute [kɹut], or computer [km̩ˈpɹuɾɚ]. The sentences below include goose and goose Ⓑ words.
- The General’s funeral included a final salute and a song a bugle.
- The brutal high level magnitude earthquake left our city in absolute destruction and immobilized search and rescue operations.
- I argued with my brother about bring the family computer into his room to watch cartoons.
Yod is the name for the the palatal approximant /j/, the sound associated with the English spelling consonant <y>, as in yellow. In the GOOSE Ⓑ lexical set, which is generally pronounced /ju/, some speakers "drop" or omit the yod after alveolar or dental consonants, /θ, t, d, n, l, s, z, ʃ, ʒ/.