While visiting the old people’s (senior citizens’) home in Montserrat, I started chatting to a young Montserratian man (pictured) who was visiting his grandfather there. I asked him his name.
—dʒo, he said, with a very short vowel. If my ears had been better attuned to Montserratian pronunciation, I would have recognized this as Joe. (Montserrat phonetics includes a rule shortening long vowels in final position.) But, still half attuned to London (where a mid back monophthong can only be ɔː), I wasn’t sure.
—George, did you say?
—No, dʒoːʊ, he replied, accommodating to an English visitor (me) by making his vowel longer and diphthongal.
I registered that as Joe, as intended. But my companion, of Montserratian origin but having lived in London for fifty years and even more in London mode than me, thought he had said Joel. After all, in London Joe is dʒʌʊ (RP dʒəʊ), while the fully back and diphthongal dʒɒ(ʊ)o is indeed Joel (RP ˈdʒəʊəl).
But in Montserrat Joel would be ˈdʒoːel.
Confusing, isn’t it?