Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Thu Nov 2 13:51:30 UTC 2000

This is a fairly common (minor) speech "defect." I doubt if it was the word
but a failure to realize /w/, perhpas only  after /k/. Too bad you didn't
listen for his pronunciation of "quick," "quit," "and the like.

There is, as well, reduction of labial "friction" geographically, of
course; what is referred to (unkindly) as the Barbara Walters' syndrome,
but I know of no studies of this.


>Recently, a salesman from Lebanon, PA, in talking about an air
>conditioning system that his company installs, described the system as
>being 'quiet'.  He pronounced the word as:  coy-ette    [ed.: please
>excuse my lack of training in phonetics, and the appropriate IPA
>He used the same pronunciation several times, with my wife finally
>asking him what the word meant.  He'd used a number of technical terms,
>in reference to proprietary components of the air conditioning system,
>and there was the contextual possibility that he meant something other
>than 'quiet'.
>He seemed to be surprised with our pronunciation of the word, and tried
>to use our pronunciation in further conversation.  Needless to say, it
>was not our intent to change his pronunciation.  Other words/phrases
>that he used were typical of what we've heard for the area.  The
>particular pronunciation of quiet was a new one for us.
>George S. Cole   gscole at ark.ship.edu
>Shippensburg University

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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