l-deletion before [y]

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Jun 20 15:24:02 UTC 2006

Another forward from another (Philadelphia-based) list.  As usual, if anyone can
shed any light on the question, please reply to this list *and* to the original

Many thanks -

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania


Has anyone taken note of a tendency in (American?) English to delete l's if
followed by a high front glide, i.e. [y]. I have observed this very often in
the following items:  (I'll use [@] for schwa).

        billion                [bIy at n]
        million         [mIy@]
        volume                 [va:yum]
        William                [wIy at m]
        civilian        [sIvI:y at n]
        (I'm a) tell ya        [tE:y@]

When I hear stock market reports from New York, I hear "on a volume of 10
million shares" pronounced [va:yum ... mIy at n] so this seems to be a New
York thing, not just a Philadelphia thing.

I don't hear it in "Willy" i.e. the conditioning factor seems to be not a
high front vowel, but rather a glide: [y], and the stress seems to be on
the vowel preceding the deleted lateral; (I can't think of a
counterexample with stress on the next syllable, but maybe there are

There are probably other examples, but these are the main ones.

My question is, has anyone noticed this, and/or written about it? (And if
not, why not? :-) )


Hal Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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