Pronunciation question (from L. Urdang)

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Tue May 29 14:37:16 UTC 2007

Funny how people talk ways they claim they don't;
I've even had them deny stuff I've recorded (or
even shown them on spectrograms).

Well, not too funny when you consider the reasons.


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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>Subject:      Re: Pronunciation question (from L. Urdang)
>Yeah, "dint."  Not dat I tawk like dat.  Am
>pretty sure James Jones has some non-New Yorkers
>say {dint} in _From Here to Eternity_ (written
>   Jones grew up in Robinson, Illinois.
>   JL
>Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
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>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: Charles Doyle
>Subject: Re: Pronunciation question (from L. Urdang)
>I have heard that schwaful pronunciation, but I
>have no sense of its distribution. In the other
>direction, though, don't we sometimes hear
>"didn't" as a monosyllable--almost homophonous
>with "dint" (perhaps from New Yorkers)?
>---- Original message ----
>>Date: Mon, 28 May 2007 22:34:15 -0400
>>From: Jesse Sheidlower
>>Subject: Pronunciation question (from L. Urdang)
>>>From Larry Urdang, who was having trouble sending to the list:
>>----- Forwarded message from Laurence Urdang -----
>>  Colleagues,
>>  [IPA is not available in my email font. I
>>tried to keyboard the unique characters in
>>Word, then copy them here from there, but that
>>wouldn't work, which is why I have described
>>"X." For some unknown reason, the schwa copied.]
>>  In my many years of experience in establishing
>>the [phonetic symbols and in transcribing the
>>pronunciations of words for dictionaries (Funk
>>& Wagnalls International Edition, Random House
>>Unabridged, Collins English Dictionary, etc.),
>>I have always regarded the n in words like
>>didn’Äôt, wouldn’Äôt, couldn’Äôt, shouldn’Äôt,
>>etc. as a syllabic: ['dIdXt] (where X is a
>>lower-case roman "n", with a tiny circle below
>>it), etc., because that’Äôs the way they were
>>pronounced by native speakers of English.
>>  In recent years, I have noted that their
>>pronunciation has shifted to the use of a full
>>schwa: ['dId ônt], etc. The change appears to
>>be very deliberate and emphatic: people are
>>pointedly saying the latter rather than the
>>former as if it were a mark of culture or
>>sophistication or, perhaps, just for clarity of
>>  Am I hearing things, or has this change been
>>noticed by others? I suggest that it might not
>>be a change but that the schwa pronunciation
>>might be increasing in frequency.
>>  Has anybody else noticed this, or am I just
>>’Äúhearing things’Äù? Has any written comment
>>appeared on the subject?
>>  Laurence Urdang
>>  4 Laurel Drive
>>  Old Lyme, CT 06371
>>  urdang at
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