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Summary Details


Query:   OFTEN pronounced with t
Author:  Neal R Norrick
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Phonology

Summary:   MANY THANKS FOR ALL THE RESPONSES (RÉMY VIREDAZ, DONN BAYARD, DOM WATT, LINDA COLEMAN, JOHN REIGHARD, SUSAN M. FITZMAURICE, ROY COCHRUN, AURÉLIEN MAX, ROBERT PAPEN, NAOMI NAGY, MARC PICARD, CORNELIA GERHARDT, LAURIE BAUER, GEOFFREY SAMPSON, IAN TUPPER).

LIST PARTICIPANTS REPORT OFTEN PRONOUNCD WITH T IN ENGLAND, SCOTTLAND, CANADA, NEW ZEALAND AND THE US. IT'S INTERESTING AS A SPELLING PRONUNCIATION, PREFERRED BY SOME SPEAKERS, DISPREFERRED BY OTHERS. THOUGH THE T-FULL PRONUNCIATION IS APPARENTLY ON THE INCREASE IN VARIOUS PLACES, IT'S NOT ASSOCIATED WITH A SINGLE GROUP ANYWHERE. SEVERAL RESPONSES NOTED
BELOW REPORT WORK-IN-PROGRESS ON THE PHENOMENON.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND:

WELLS' LONGMAN PRONOUNCING DICTIONARY LISTS BOTH T-LESS PRONUNCIATIONS, AND A T-FULL PRONUNCIATIONS WITH T@N AS THE SECOND SYLLABLE, WHERE @ STANDS FOR SCHWA. THIS IS THE PRONUNCIATION I INTENDED IN CALLING THE T ASPIRATED (I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN, AND I WAS DULY REMINDED, THAT THIS T, LIKE OTHER VOICELESS STOPS IN ONSETS OF UNSTRESSED SYLLABLES, IS ONLY WEAKLY ASPIRATED, AND, HENCE, COUNTS AS UNASPIRATED FOR PHONETICIANS WHO REQUIRE A
SPECIFIC THRESHOLD VALUE ON THE SCALE). WELLS REPORTS THAT ''MANY SPEAKERS USE BOTH THE FORM WITH T AND THE FORM WITH IT,'' AND CITES A BRE POLL PANEL PREFERENCE: 72% T-LESS, 27% T-FULL.

FOWLER'S MODERN ENGLISH USAGE (1965) SAYS: ''ACCORDING TO THE OED THE SOUNDING OF THE T WAS NOT THEN RECOGNIZED BY THE DICTIONARIES. BUT THAT WAS LONG BEFORE THE SPEAK-AS-YOU-SPELL MOVEMENT GOT UNDER WAY, AND AS LONG AGO AS 1933 THE SOED RECORDED THAT THE SOUNDING OF THE T WAS THEN FREQUENT IN THE SOUTH OF ENGLAND. THAT WOULD NOW BE AN UNDERSTATEMENT OF ITS CURRENCY.''

LIST RESPONSE:

DONN BAYARD REPORTS: ''THE SPELLING PRONUNCIATION CERTAINLY OCCURS HERE IN NEW ZEALAND. MY 1984-85 SURVEY OF PHONOLOGICAL AND LEXICAL VARIABLES IN NZE (SEE *TE REO* VOLS. 30 AND 32, 1987 AND 1989) SHOWED 41% OF MY SAMPLE OF 141 USED THE OFTEN PRONUNCIATION. I ALSO MONITOR THIS AND A NUMBER OF OTHER ALTERNATIVE PRONUNCIATIONS IN MY ANNUAL QUESTIONNAIRES TO OUR LARGE FIRST-YEAR CLASSES; SINCE 1984 OFTEN HAS INCREASED FROM CA. 35% TO OVEER
50%, BUT ITS CHANGE IS NOT AS MARKED AS ITEMS LIKE ''LIEUTENANT'', ''SCHEDULE'', AND ''ZED/ZEE''.''

DOM WATT SAYS THE [OFT@N] PRONUNCIATION RATHER THAN [OFN]/[OF@N] IS CURRENT IN SCOTTISH ENGLISH. HE WRITES: ''I WAS BORN AND GREW UP IN EDINBURGH, AND WHILE BOTH FORMS WERE USED, THE ONE WITH [T] WAS PROBABLY AS - OR MORE - COMMON THAT THE [T]-ELIDED ONE (NOTE
THAT THE QUALITY OF THE VOWEL OF THE FIRST SYLLABLE CAN BE [O] OR [O], WHERE [O] IS 'OPEN O'). I'VE GOT A HUNCH THAT THE [T]-FUL FORM IS MORE TRADITIONAL, AND PERHAPS HENCE SEEN AS LESS PRESTIGIOUS OR 'CORRECT', BUT DON'T KNOW FOR SURE. THE [T] MAY ALTERNATIVELY BE NASALLY RELEASED, I.E. WITH NO INTERVENING SCHWA BETWEEN [T] AND [N]. IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN FOLLOWING UP THE 'STYLISTIC VARIABLE' ANGLE ON THE ALTERNATION BETWEEN [T] AND ZERO, IT MIGHT BE WORTH YOUR WHILE CONTACTING DEBORAH CHIRREY (CHIRREYD@ADMIN.EHCHE.AC.UK) OR JANE STUART-SMITH (J.STUART-SMITH@ENGLANG.ARTS.GLA.AC.UK) - THEY'VE BOTH RECENTLY PUBLISHED WORK ON VARIABILITY IN THE PHONOLOGIES OF EDINBURGH AND GLASGOW ENGLISH, SO THEY MAY HAVE A BETTER IDEA.

ROBERT PAPEN WRITES: ''AS A SPEAKER OF CANADIAN ENGLISH, I CAN TELL YOU THAT BOTH VARIANTS ARE USED IN CANADA...THOUGH I CAN'T TELL YOU WHAT THE DISTRIBUTION OF EITHER VARIANT MAY BE.''

NAOMI NAGY SAYS:''I HAVE 2 STUDENTS WORKING ON THIS VERY QUESTION NOW--COLLECTING DATA BOTH VIA SURVEYS AND INTERVIEWS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE. I'LL PASS YOUR QUERY ALONG AND ASK THEM TO GET BACK TO YOU, BUT THEY WON'T HAVE A ''DEFINITE'' ANSWER UNTIL MID-DECEMBER.''

LAURIE BAUER: ''VARIABLE IN NEW ZEALAND, TOO. I'VE ALWAYS ASSUMED IT IS BASICALLY SOCIO-ECONOMIC CLASS DRIVEN, BUT I HAVEN'T SEEN ANY ANALYSIS OF IT, SO DO SUMMARISE FOR THE LIST IF YOU DISCOVER ANYTHING.''


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PROF. DR. NEAL R. NORRICK
LEHRSTUHL FÜR ENGLISCHE PHILOLOGIE
SPRACHWISSENSCHAFT
UNIVERSITÄT DES SAARLANDES
66041 SAARBRÜCKEN
TEL. +49 (0)681 302-3009
URL: HTTP://WWW.UNI-SB.DE/PHILFAK/FB8/NORRICK
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LL Issue: 10.1666
Date Posted: 03-Nov-1999
Original Query: Read original query