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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   English pronunciation
Author:   John Esposito
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Phonetics

Query:   Greetings,

Wondered if anyone had an idea why a substantial number of Americans
pronounce the word ''both'' with an l.

A first-semester lx. student surprised me by supplying a hypothesis: she
grew up in a community of Danish ancestors. In some environments, Danish d
and t become a liquid, acoustically similar to
(or perhaps a uvular R);
I believe this sound was pronounced as eth until recent generations,
following more or less predictably the weakening hierarchy.

However, a survey of other students with this pronunciation yielded only
about 50% having contact with Scandinavian (mostly Norwegian) neighbors;
furthermore, I'm not aware of Dano-Norwegian (bokmal) having this sound.
Perhaps there's a simpler explanation? Is it due to an acoustic similarity
between /o/ and
? An analogy to ''bowl''?

John Esposito
San Diego State Univ.
LL Issue: 15.3227
Date posted: 17-Nov-2004


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