intervocalic voicing of fricatives

Charles Wells charles at FREUDE.COM
Tue Jun 25 18:39:22 UTC 2002

It appears to me that many southerners, black and white, and many young
people here in the midwest, unvoice all final consonants while keeping the
variation in vowel length determined by the voicing, whence the vowel
length becomes phonemic. My ear is not very good so I am not sure, and
maybe some of it is only partial unvoicing.  In my church choir here in
Oberlin, when we are reminded of diction, we pronounce the final "t" with a
clear release in words such as "want", but also in "God" and "Lord" I hear
some choir members pronouncing the final consonant as a released "t".  One
(young) member said that in her former choir in Florida she was explicitly
told not to pronounce it as a released "d" and our {young} choir director
from Illinois agreed that it sounded bad.  Or should I say bat.

I would be curious to know if trained linguists have detected this.

--Charles Wells

>He just didn't pay attention in phonics class and has extended terminal
>voicelessness to all words ending with sibilance.  "It's spelled with an -s
>and people oughta say it with an -s !!"
>on 6/25/02 11:42 AM, Dennis R. Preston at preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU wrote:
>> And how can any of this account for the fact that W has got no final
>> voiced continuants - plurals (e.g., reaches), possessives (e.g., Bin
>> Laden's), 3rd person indicatives (e.g., begs) or plain old
>> monomorphemes (e.g., badge). Just listen.
>> dInIs
>>> On Tue, 25 Jun 2002, Dale Coye wrote:
>>> #I think I commented a few years ago that Joseph is going the other
way-- it
>>> #was always /z/ in the old days, but many young people here in NJ and I've
>>> #heard it from Californians too, now have /s/.   I think Jerusalem may have
>>> #been /z/ too according to some older dictionaries (100 years ago).
>>> I've heard Jeru/z/alem for a long time; I guess I'm used to it as an
>>> alternate. Like Roly, I've noticed Ka/Z/mir appearing more often in the
>>> news reports in recent... hm, months but the past several years as well,
>>> ISTM.
>>> However, I noticed /Z/ many decades ago, if memory serves, in the
>>> eponymous "cashmere" -- maybe even in my grandmother's speech (b. NYC
>>> approx. 1889) -- and remarked on it to myself.
>>> #        I also reported in an AS article a while back on a very
>>> #regional pattern for 'houses'--the noun plural, which can show either
>/s/ or
>>> #/z/ for both final and medial fricative all over the US.
>>> How does the distribution of the final /s/ in this plural compare with
>>> general final plural /s/?
>>> -- Mark A. Mandel
>>> Linguist at Large
>> --
>> Dennis R. Preston
>> Department of Linguistics and Languages
>> Michigan State University
>> East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
>> preston at
>> Office: (517)353-0740
>> Fax: (517)432-2736

Charles Wells
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