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

Ellen Johnson ejohnson at BERRY.EDU
Sun Dec 30 18:23:33 UTC 2001

then there's my home town, ATlanta /Itlaen@/, where people are mostly oblivious that the native t-less pronunciation is stigmatized by well, you know, all those Yankees who've moved here.  I suppose because the t is dropped in the place name, it is lost in the derivative Atlantan as well (n at n, variant nt at n, but n?n as in Clinton is not possible).

Ellen Johnson
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Dept. of English, Rhetoric, and Writing
Berry College, Box 350
Mt. Berry, GA 30149
ejohnson at

-----Original Message-----
From: Alice Faber [mailto:faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU]
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2001 12:36 PM
Subject: Re: Medial -/t/- (was New Britain, Conn)

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!


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