Pronouncing Wisconsin

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Dec 21 17:59:30 UTC 2006

On Dec 21, 2006, at 9:37 AM, Scot LaFaive wrote:

> I've noticed lately that many commercials played in Wisconsin seem
> to have
> people clearly pronouncing the /k/ sound in the second syllable,
> and it
> sounds odd to me. From what I gather from 31 years in Wisconsin, it
> seems
> that natives generally don't clearly pronounce the /k/; I think we
> tend to
> voice it as /g/, but I may be wrong in my analysis (my ears don't
> distinguish so well, the lazy fools). Just curious if anyone else has
> noticed this or can confirm or correct me.

this one comes up here from time to time.  the short version is:

"Wisconsin" is usually pronounced by natives of the state with an
unaccented first syllable, but by outsiders with a tertiary accent on
the first syllable.  the accentual difference yields a difference in
syllable-division.  with unaccented first syllable, the s is
syllabified as part of the second syllable: Wi.scon.sin; the k is
then unaspirated (as in "skin"), which you might be hearing as
voicing.  with an accent on the first syllable, the s can be (though
it doesn't have to be) syllabified as the offset of that syllable:
Wis.con.sin; if so, the k is aspirated and will be heard as a clear k.


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