• Bat. It is well known that the quality of the RP bat vowel has changed since the 1930's. It is now more similar to "cardinal [a]" than it used to be. Hence Upton's choice of the [a] symbol. A more conservative line is to stick with the familiar symbol [æ], but to redefine it as appropriate. That, after all, is what we have all done with the [ʌ] symbol for the vowel of cut, blood, which used to be a back vowel but now has a central/front quality for which the most specific IPA symbol would probably be [ɐ] (turned a). A further argument in favour of retaining the symbol [æ] is that it preserves the parallelism with American and Australian English, in which the movement towards an opener quality has not taken place.
(Prof. John Wells,University College London) * OP's emphasis

I understand the highlighted part as subject (to redefine it) plus predicate (as appropriate) construction: meaning, to redefine it is as appropriate. Is this right understanding? If it is, what does ‘as’ mean? Perchance, is it a part of comparison construction?

1 Answer 1


The issue here is whether as appropriate is a) an adjunct of manner modifying the verb redefine, or b) an object-oriented complement to the verb redefine, characterizing 'it' (the symbol [æ]) as "appropriate" now.

I think you understand this correctly as an adjunct. Prof. Wells is suggesting that the more conservative line is to

  1. stick with the old symbol [æ], but
  2. redefine, in whatever manner is appropriate, what /æ/ means when it is used to represent the phoneme in question.

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