Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Jun 24 04:09:11 UTC 2004

>For what it's worth--for me, and I suspect many other speakers of
>different regional varieties of AmEng, "boody" and "booty" (not to
>mention "bootie") would be homonyms.

At least near-homonyms. I'm ignorant of the fine points of the phonetics,
but I recall Larry Trask making an objection to wholesale assignment of /d/
to an Am.Eng. intervocalic "t" sound (IIRC proposed for OED and used in
MW3). I would say that in rapid speech without any contextual clues I would
be unable to distinguish "Adam" from "atom" as many US-ans pronounce them,
but in my dialect I believe that they are distinct at least sometimes; I
would not consider writing a poem rhyming "moody" with "cootie" or "atom"
with "madam". I believe in my careful speech this "d" sound is more
anterior (front) and longer than the "t"; maybe the distinction is not
always primarily one of voicedness or aspiration.

When I heard "boody"/"booty" in my youth, I had no doubt that it had /d/
and not /t/. Of course I never saw this in print (IIRC) until much later
(probably about 1990), and then I saw "booty". Had the /d/ sounded
ambiguous to me I'm sure I would have taken it to be "booty" when I first
heard it (a recognizable word in another sense). It is possible that a /t/
was replaced with a /d/ somewhere along the line, perhaps in a dialect
where they are homonyms.

-- Doug Wilson

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