Terlet not a hypercorrection?

Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Tue Mar 23 15:40:00 UTC 2010

Ron said:

'I'm not sure this is a hypercorrection at all, just an allophonic
variation for the /oy/ diphthong found in geneally r-deleting relic areas.
The [r] coloring would be heard variably in both "toilet" and "bird".
Basically, the onset is centralized in both vowels and perhaps sounds more
r-like than the speaker intends.'

I'm not sure it is either. It seems rather like r-insertion in BrE arhotic
varieties (which is many BrE varieties), as in the phrase 'Indiar,
Australiar and Canada': these varieties are generally arhotic but can
insert an /r/ to break up what might otherwise be a hiatus between vowels.
In the 'terlet' case, the /r/ is not between two vowels, but it is at least
between two vocoids / sonorant elements: /l/ in particular is known to be
very back-vowel-like, which is why it vocalises so easily.

English approximant /r/* also has similar phonetic characteristics to a
central / back oral vowel in any case: F1 around 500Hz, F2 between 1000Hz
and 1500Hz depending on the token. (I'm looking at spectrograms from Lindau
1985 and Ladefoged & Maddieson's _The Sounds of the World's Languages_
here. Lindau's spectrogram is just identified as 'American English r';
L&M's is of the whole word 'sorrow' in AmE.)


* (not, of course, the trill actually represented by IPA /r/)

Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
YO10 5DD

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