Pronunciation question (from L. Urdang)

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Wed May 30 02:12:40 UTC 2007

>As an undergrad way back in 1971 I was taught to use the schwa + n
>in transcribing "didn't," etc. In grad school I learned about the
>syllabic "dotted n," which makes far more sense.

I've found it interesting, in my linguistics coursework, how at one
level you will be taught one thing, and at the next level you will be
taught that it's wrong -- not just incomplete, but wrong... but if
you put what's right at the next level for an answer at the first
level, you get marked wrong. And of course from course to course the
professors contraduct each other. Here and I had this idea that
somehow there was some great agreed-on consistency... don't know why
I would have thought that, given the nature of the subject.

>   I can't recall hearing anyone actually saying "didunt."  Sounds
>weird. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure I've heard "didint" used
>for strong emphasis: "No [Mommy] !  I DIDINT do it!"

I've heard "dId at nt" maybe once or twice, maybe. "dIdInt" in emphatic
use seems normal enough to me. The most interesting version was a
BE-styled emphatic from a character in an episode of _Law & Order_:
"dI'Int" (apostrophe for glottal stop). Is this being heard much by
those who listen in those circles? It's foreign to me.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society -

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