Southern implosives?

Fri Jan 28 17:04:34 UTC 2000

I've observed implosive stops b^, d^ and g^ in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and as far north as central Nebraska.  They seem to occur primarily in stressed syllables, and one friend of mine from Oklahoma gave me the example

that b^oy is no d^amn g^ood

I've used this phenomenon in my phonetics and language/society classes, but I've never seen it written up.  It's ignored even more than the retroflexion of coronals before r, as in trick, drink, shrink.  I also have it in grocery but not grocer, nursery but not nurse, and luxury [gz^] but not luxurious [gZu].  I've seen reference to retroflexion once or twice in the literature with respect to stops, but it's always astounded me how readily linguists write that the fricative before r in an initial cluster is palato-alveolar, not even considering that it would be retroflexed in that environment.  Have we assumed that consonants, aside from post-vocalic r, are of little interest in American dialectology?

Herb Stahlke

>>> AAllan at AOL.COM 01/28/00 11:24AM >>>
I'm out of my league on this one from an Indo-Europeanist who also was my
college roommate. If you have an answer, please reply directly to him as well
as posting it to our list. - Allan Metcalf
     Although everyone recognizes the vocalic differences between Northern
vs. Southern American pronounciation, I haven't run across any references to
something I auditorily discern in the production of (at least some) Southern
dialects: initial, prevocalic voiced stops appear to be IMPLOSIVE, produced
with a slight lowering of the larynx, rather than with the quite different
plosive initiation used by us northerners.  Such larynx-lowering further
appears to be physiologically coupled with a wider opening of the jaw than
in my dialect. Implosives pop up in various parts of the Indo-European world
and are suspected by some to be involved in early I-E consonant changes.  If
my observations are correct, I would further suspect that such implosive
initiation derives from a Celtic substratum.

     Am I completely off base, or is there reality in my observations?  Are
you aware of such a phenomenon in southern speech?  If this is common
knowledge among you specialists, please forgive the ignorance of this
country bumpkin, and point me to a proper reference.
              - Richard Strand
e-mail: strand at

Richard Strand's Nuristan Site:

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