Is there any particular American dialect that does this? I have heard this kind of pronunciation on some American TV shows, mostly featuring teenage/college kids, and it appears more prevalent among female speakers. Often, the girls who feature such pronunciation also exhibit qualities of Valleyspeak in their speech and I am wondering if they are related.

Am I hearing things or is it actually an identifiable and well-known pronunciation habit? Is there any established pattern that associates it with any particular dialect?

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    Is there actually an 'r' in 'wurt', or are you trying to convey the pronunciation of 'what' using the r-less vowel of the British pronunciation of 'nurse'? Americans use a number of different vowels for 'what', but I don't think I've heard anybody put an actual 'r' in it. – Peter Shor Jun 14 '14 at 11:31
  • I don't know if they intend to place an r in it but I am reasonably certain I have noticed a slightly rhotic sound before the t. Also, from what I noticed, the vowel between the w and r sounded somewhat like in between the a of father and i of girl. I am not good with phonetic scripts so not sure how to best represent what I hear. – TheLearner Jun 14 '14 at 14:02
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    I think you may just be hearing an 'r' because they're using a vowel very close to the British vowel in nurse, and if you hear a British accent regularly, you are used to interpreting that as an 'r'. – Peter Shor Jun 14 '14 at 14:35
  • Peter Shor, British pronunciations of nurse are not normally, r-less. The letter r is just not pronounced as strongly as it normally is, in American pronunciation. – Tristan r Jun 16 '14 at 18:16
up vote 2 down vote accepted

It may actually be the area in which the actors/actresses grew up in, or their characters background. I myself grew up in the Southern U.S. and I often hear others saying Wurt instead of What, also mainly among teens. I think it is a pop culture thing as it sometimes fun to change up a word as in wurt. My friends and I often have fun just changing how we say things just to get a laugh. It could be that the speakers in your shows are trying to be more humorous, it could be a dialect, or it could be how you interpret what you hear as Peter Shor said.

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    Actually I have heard similar tendencies with "not" as well which gets pronounced somewhat as "naart". – TheLearner Jun 17 '14 at 4:18

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