LINGUIST List 17.2084
Tue Jul 18 2006
Qs: Onset [r] Deletion in English
Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton
Onset [r] Deletion in English
Message 1: Onset [r] Deletion in English
From: Nancy Hall <nhallessex.ac.uk>
Subject: Onset [r] Deletion in English
Some English words are occasionally pronounced with deletion of an onset [r]. Examples include the following (thanks to Maria Gouskova and Linda Hall for pointing some of these out):
February -> Febuary (this is pretty much standard) veterinarian -> vetinarian Tristram Shandy -> Tristam Shandy respiratory -> respitory spectrogram -> spectogram secretary -> secetary extraordinary -> extodinary (Fiona Apple sings this in ''Extraordinary Machine'')
[A blogging Apple fan comments on this last one, ``For some reason I really like her pronunciation of Extraordinary. It becomes ''extordinary'' because no one on the planet can sing Extraordinary, it's a terrible word.'' (http://www.diaryofaband.com/2005/05/051005.html)]
Although this deletion seems to be sporadic, the examples above share certain traits, suggesting there is a phonological basis for the deletion. For example, each word contains more than one onset [r], and the [r] that deletes is in a complex onset in a non-initial syllable. Usually it's unstressed, and usually it precedes the other [r].
I would be grateful to anyone who can point out 1) any published or unpublished work on onset [r] deletion; 2) any other examples of onset [r] deletion that you may have noticed (whether or not they are similar to the examples above). I will post a summary if there is sufficient interest.
Linguistic Field(s): Phonology