Standard US English Dialect?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 15 14:57:09 UTC 2008

At 7:18 AM -0700 4/15/08, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>On Apr 15, 2008, at 6:37 AM, Larry Horn wrote:
>>... Connecticutisms (e.g. the glottalizing of intervocalic /t/ in
>>[kI?In], New [brI?In]).
>connecticutism?  isn't this a much more general american feature
>(outside the south)?  [t'] (or usually [?]) for /t/ after accented
>vowel and before syllabic n, as in button, Britain, cotton, kitten,
>written, Patton, beaten, sweeten, brighten, ...

I'm not enough of a phonetician to describe the difference between
the local pronunciation of "kitten", "Britain" and the allophony
you're discussing.  I think I have some sort of unreleased [t] with
accompanying glottalization, followed by a schwa.  My daughter has,
at least some of the time and in least in the two words mentioned
above, a glottal stop, no alveolar closure as far as I can tell, and
a palpable [I] vowel (nasalized, as Randy noted) before the [n].  I'm
pretty sure this doesn't occur in most of the other words you list
above, so presumably it's a lexical feature.  The previous vowel
matters, so "sweeten" and "brighten" don't have it, I don't think.
(Surely this is discussed somewhere in the dialectological
literature, but I don't know where.)  We had a thread (or two) awhile
back on "didn't", where the peculiar [dI?In] of "No you di'nt" fame
illustrates the same glottal stop followed by [I], although other
voiced environments usually exclude this; I speculated that this was
because of the influence of other instances of glottal stops with
downtone expressing negative affect (unh-unh, mn-nh [however you
transcribe the closed-mouth version of the denial grunt], uh-oh).  In
any case, it does occur more freely around here in voiceless
contexts, and it represents a regional shibboleth--the ESPN
SportsCenter guys go out of their way to pronounce it in "New Bri'in"
the way they add local color to "'Sconsin" and "Chic[a]go" [with
exaggerated fronting]--but I'm not sure what the conditioning factors
are.  Can any phoneticians who have spent time in central New England
help out here?


>i've used this bit of allophony in intro lx classes to illustrate more
>specific taking precedence over more general: the glottalization rule
>takes precedence over the more general "flapping" rule (after accented
>vowel and before unaccented vowel), seen in butter, brittle, hotter,
>fitting, beating, writer, ...  (if you don't have glottalization, then
>you get flapping in button etc.  if you don't have flapping, then you
>get unaspirated [t].)
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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