Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Fri Jul 23 13:00:42 UTC 1999

I have also noticed some breaking of this rule but in the opposite
direction. That is, I hear /finger/ (where I must have /fingger/.

Of course, the putative Metropolitan New York City rule is simply to ignore
the distinction and go with /ngg/ pronunciations. (I use /ng/ to indicate
"angma" alone and a following /g/ to indicate that an oral velar stop
follows.) Not all New York City speakers follow this "rule."

It may be important, however, since we haven't mentioned it in this round
yet, to point out the morphological foundation of the rule as most US
English speakers observe it.

If there is a mopheme break in an /nger/ sequence, pronounce it that way;
therefore, since "singer" is morphologically /sing/ plus /-er/, simply
attach /-er/ and say /singer/.

If there is no morpheme break, insert a /g/; therfore, since "finger" is
not /fing/ plus /-er/ (but monomorphemic /finger/), it is pronouinced

Of course, there is a lot of /ng/ variation this rule does not quite cover.
I am sure we all hear both /english/ and /engglish/, although it is an
interesting psycholingusitic question whether or not /english/ speakers
have a /-lish/ morpheme rule. Kids should show a lot of variation until
they figure out which items have and which do not have mophemes added.

One speculation is that US areas with high non-native speaker input (e.g.,
NYC, Milwaukee) are more likely to show a leveling of the rule due to
earlier ESL learning and now (at least in Milwaukee) substrate influence.


>I think I noticed my father (from London) saying the word this way, so I
>looked it up in the Concise OED.
>"hangar (-ngg-), n. Shed for housing aeroplane etc. [F, = shed for carriages
>etc., etym. dub.]"
>The French pronunciation is [a~ga:r] (Heath).
>Were you implying that the (-ngg-) pronunciation is normal in New York for
>There might even be a distinction for some between "[clothes] hanger" and
>"hanger" 'person (or baseball pitch) that hangs'.
>But surely, for most Americans, "hanger" = "hanger" = "hangar".
>>From: Beverly Flanigan <flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU>
>>Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Subject: hanger
>>Date: Wed, 21 Jul 1999 15:12:28 -0400
>>I heard another new pronunciation (to me) on NPR yesterday:  A newswoman
>>referred to a plane kept in a [haeNGg at r] at Cape Cod.  I'm aware of [NGg]
>>use in "Long Island," of course, but she didn't sound like a New Yorker.
>>(Weren't we talking about homophonic 'finger/singer' on this list recently
>>too, or was that the Childes list?)  I wonder in this case if the word
>>usage (for plane storage) might have been new to the newswoman and she
>>thought it must be [NGg]?  I hear a lot of bloopers on NPR lately....
>Get Free Email and Do More On The Web. Visit http://www.msn.com

Dennis R. Preston
Professor of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

More information about the Ads-l mailing list