a request

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Dec 19 15:01:19 UTC 2006

In my own dialect, I find it impossible to pronounce the entire final cluster of the word "fifth"--much less "twelfth"; the /f/ disappears.

More to the point (as elaborated by Jonathan), I can't do "desks" or "wasps" either; I probably just avoid using plurals in those cases!

What I do for the plural of "dentist" may be idiosyncratic, but the plural tends to be (yes!) /dInIs/, as if omitting the /-t/ makes it sound more plural.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006 06:24:16 -0800
>From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>Subject: Re: a request

>Amy, both things are happening. The dropping of the orthographic "d" results in a nonstandard written form.
>  I too was in college before I was completely sure that there was a "d" in "used to." Not only is it almost impossible to hear - and not often articulated, at that; but in my English, there's
>  / s / in "used to" (as there is in the noun "use") but / z / in other kinds of "used."
>  The confusion you ask about seems like a long established phenomenon to me.
>  More surprising to me when I started teaching freshman comp was the translation of reduced final consonant clusters in speech into systematically misspelled plurals.
>  I've had a number of students who insisted that the plural of nouns ending in -st was spelled -st, e.g., dentist/ dentist, list/ list, arrest/ arrest, etc.  At first I couldn't believe they thought this. But when I asked them to pronounce singulars and plurals they came out identically.
>  The problem was easy for them to fix - in writing. They just memorized the rule. But many of them seemed to think the rule was weird and unwarranted. And of course, they kept right on reducing the clusters in speech.
>  That was thirty years ago.
>  JL

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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