Damien Hall djh514 at YORK.AC.UK
Thu Jan 15 18:25:10 UTC 2009

Received from the Linguistic Anthropology (LINGANTH) list today:

On Jan 15 2009, Robert Lawless wrote:

>For all you guys who teach college-age students and (if you're
>listening) hear them talk:  Is the pronunciation of often with "t"
>becoming more common with the younger generation? (I think most of us
>old foggies don't pronounce the "t".) I believe linguists refer to this
>as "spelling pronunciation." I suppose then that pronouncing sophomore
>as two syllables would be anti-spelling pronunciation. Although I and
>most of my colleagues pronounce it with three syllables, seemingly all
>the sophmores here use only two syllables. (My daughter, who's a
>sophmore in high school corrected me the other day when I called her a

I don't know about these points, but maybe somebody here on the American
Dialect Society list has some intuition from their own students, or knows
about the history of the pronunciations of these two words? For myself:

- I think I (M, 34, but British, not American) usually pronounce 'often'
with no /t/

- I have no native intuition about 'sophomore', since it's not a word that
most Brits know; myself, I had come across it but had no idea of what it
meant exactly, apart from knowing that it referred to one or several years
in education, until I came to the US. FYI, in British Universities the
years are just referred to by their ordinal numbers, except that in some
places the people in their last year are called Finalists (because that's
when their Final Exams are). We split the secondary years differently from
Americans, so that you enter secondary school at 11 and can leave at 16 or
18, but there's no necessary break between those ages; the second year of
that process, when pupils are 12-13 years old, is, again, just called the
Second Year.

Replies, I suppose, to Robert directly, and maybe copied to this list.


Damien Hall

University of York
Department of Language and Linguistic Science
York YO10 5DD

Tel. (office) 01904 432665
     (mobile) 0771 853 5634
Fax  01904 432673

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list