FYI: linguistics in the news: case of the missing "t"

James Smith jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM
Thu Nov 5 18:22:20 UTC 2009

The subject of dropped final "t"s is a good lead-in to some questions I've had for some time:

e.g., Colbert Gifte Shoppe

To what extent were these final "e"s really used in "Olde" English (acknowledging that spellings were most entirely standardized)?  Or are they basically a modern affectation?

If they were really used extensively in writing, is there any evidence indicating that in the spoken language the final consonant was more sharply or clearly pronounced than in modern English - does the final "e" in the "olde" style indicate the speakers put a distinct "t" at the end, with a clear separation between the "t" and the "s" in "gifte shoppe"?  (Taking it to an extreme would result in something like Burns' Scots dialect: "O wad some pow'r the giftie gi' us".)

James D. SMITH               |If history teaches anything
South SLC, UT                |it is that we will be sued
jsmithjamessmith at   |whether we act quickly and
                             |or slowly and cautiously.

--- On Thu, 11/5/09, David Bowie <db.list at PMPKN.NET> wrote:

> From: David Bowie <db.list at PMPKN.NET>
> Subject: Re: FYI: linguistics in the news: case of the missing "t"
> Date: Thursday, November 5, 2009, 10:40 AM
> From:    James Smith <jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM>
> >
> This used to frustrate me when I was at BYU--this
> insistence that
> pre-nasal /t/-glottalization was a specific feature of Utah
> English, and
> that the whole rest of the English-speaking world had it
> down as a
> strongly stigmatized feature. Try convincing people that
> this thing they
> believe exists nowhere else is actually spread pretty
> widely throughout
> the language, *and* that this local marker of linguistic
> insecurity
> actually doesn't draw any attention most other places--it's
> a good way
> to get laughed out of a room.
> Apparently people like their insecurities.
> I think it's telling, if you read the transcript/watch the
> video, that
> David Eddington's actually studying word-*final*
> /t,d/-deletion, but
> they insisted on shoehorning pre-nasal /t/ in.
> And that's one of the fascinating things about
> /t/-glottalization in
> Utah--it's limited to pre-nasal contexts, but it's widely
> viewed as
> being a deletion of all /t/s (it's glottalization,
> actually, but the
> local view is that it's deletion).
> I'm also curious about the identity of the unnamed female
> linguists in
> the report. My guesses are that the one at the end is
> Marianna Di Paolo
> and the one earlier, if she's a different person, is Wendy
> Baker--i've
> talked with both of them at some length about this feature
> and the way
> it's perceived and produced along Utah's Wasatch Front.
> --
> David Bowie
>    Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there
> is no chocolate in the
>    house, there is too little; some must be
> purchased. If there is
>    chocolate in the house, there is too
> much; it must be consumed.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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