Medial -/t/- (was New Britain, Conn)

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Sat Dec 29 17:36:00 UTC 2001

Rudolph C Troike said:
>This South Texan pronounces medial -/t/- in 'bottle', 'latter' as a voiced
>stop (i.e. [d]), so that 'latter' and 'ladder' are homophonous, as in the
>old conundrum, "The carpenter put down his ladder and saw, and then picked
>up the [laed at r]. Which one did he pick up?" In British RP the -/t/- is
>voiceless and aspirated. I'm not sure what Beverly meant by calling the
>pronunciation of 'Clinton', 'Scranton', etc. "disputed" (I think that's
>the term she used -- I can't check now). I have an unreleased [t] followed
>by a syllabic nasal. Again, Rosemary Church on CNN and many news
>announcers (I think even Dan Rather, when he tries) keep a tertiarily
>stressed schwa in the final syllable of 'Clinton', etc., making it -[t at n].

All my notes on glottal stop for /t/ in New England are in the lab, so this
is from memory. I believe that in this area, you find a fair amount of
variability in /ntn/ sequences, as in Clinton*, Scranton. Clinton is a
suburb of New Haven, and its pronunciation isn't remarked upon. Groton,
like Clinton, is universally pronounced with a [?] for /t/, and, in both
towns, "local" pronunciations are stigmatized. (Marianna Di Paolo told me
that a similar phenomenon occurs with the pronunciation of Layton (Utah).)
I *may* be imagining it, but I believe that the actual difference resides
in the pronunciation of the syllabic [n]. The normal pronunciation is [?]
followed by syllabic [n] (with no discernible vowel quality). However, one
occasionally hears [?] followed by an ultra-short copy of the vowel
preceding [?], followed by [n]. So what's stigmatized is [brI?In] not

*As I was composing this, my first thought was that, well of course Clinton
doesn't have [?]; the preceding /n/ blocks the change of /t/ to [?]. Then I
said it out loud: [klIn?n]. So much for introspection!


More information about the Ads-l mailing list