LINGUIST List 15.3279
Mon Nov 22 2004
Sum: English Pronunciation: Bolth Part 2
Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>
To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at
English Pronunciation: Bolth Part 2
Message 1: English Pronunciation: Bolth Part 2
From: John Esposito <espositocsusm.edu>
Subject: English Pronunciation: Bolth Part 2
Regarding query http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-3227.html#1
View Part One: http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-3278.html#1
Moving on to the next theory, then, Mark Jones (Cambridge) points out that
there are historical relationships between interdental continuants; this
has been discussed before and can be found at:
Jones writes: "In some dialects of Southern Italy /l/ has become an
interdental /l/, often realised very much like (or in some dialects
identical to?) [DH], and in Basque 'Madrid' (which in Spanish has final
[DH]) is spoken and written as 'Madril'..." Also: "There is some vague
indication of an interdental /l/ cropping up in various varieties of
(American?) English, especially in final positions," while in Londonderry,
"intervocalic [DH] may be realised as...[l]."
Roger Lass (Cape Town) provides phonetic details, addressing my query about
what I'd called an 'acoustic liquid' in Danish: with the "lenited
historical /d/ as in 'street'... the usual form is a frictionless
dental continuant, often with a slight lateral coarticulation and some
velar approximation. It sounds rather like a weak dark [l]."
It seems that the American English /l/ in 'bolth' indeed must be, as Jones
suggests, interdental, not alveolar or velar; if so, and if it's prerceived
as an /l/, then this is a third allophone of /l/ for these speakers.
Jones also suggests that there may be an element of hypercorrection, as
does Tonio Green of Berlin, as well as David Bowie (Central Florida), who
advises having a look at r-insertion: "There may be multiple ways in which
r-insertion can come about, and I suspect the same with l-insertion. Around
Baltimore, Maryland, which has a lot of post-vocalic l-lessness...
l-insertion occurs that's analogous to the r-insertion in communities with
Finally, Bruce Morén (Tromsø), and Jack Hall (Houston) offered observations
about speakers of American English in various parts of the country. In
fact, Morén himself has this pronunciation, and indeed has Danish and
Norwegian ancestry. However, he has not noticed this pronuciation in his
family, and does not have it in similar environments such as 'oath.'
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all respondents. At this point,
I'm not prepared to express a preference for any one theory or explanation;
as others have pointed out, the pronunciation of 'bolth' with an /l/ but
'growth' and 'oath' without it complicates matters, as any phonological
rule would seem to apply only lexically, i.e. there are too many exceptions
for us to posit a gernal rule of /w/-->/l/ in some dialect(s) of American
English (This brings us back to my, and Herb Stahlke's, hypothesis of an
analogy to 'bowl' as a partial explanation). Furthermore, my own San
Diego-area students who have exhibited this pronunciation seem to come from
all over the U.S.
In the case that I receive substantial supplements to this information (or
that I have misrepresented anyone's posts), I will forward a summary of any
significant future activity.
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue