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In some North American speech (not sure about Canada;), I have long noted the pronunciation of certain consonant combinations that seem to have drifted to what sounds like some form of glottalised stop. The most common example is in the second syllable of the word 'didn't ': the second 'd' sound to my ears is not the classical 'd' standardly spoken of English speakers, native or non-; it comes out as 'di'n't'. What the hay???

As far as I can tell, it is not obviously regionalised to any particular geographical area, socio-economic sector or ethnic background. That is, it seems to be pretty pervasive across the States. (Hawaii I don't know about; I'm always busy at the luau).

I am very interested to note that Blacks and Hispanics are as likely to use it as N. Americans of European descent. That may be because I have not paid enough attention, or that these afford larger sample groups by far and swamp out the rest.

The literature - that includes disclosures/reports by non-academic speaker/users and cross-generational accounts - surprisingly, contains lots of references to such changes right across the globe, including the States but none seem to touch on this particular glottalisation. What's the haps?

  • I use a glottal stop in kitten (where I think its use is truly widespread in the U.S.) but not didn't. I believe there's lots of literature on the glottal stop in AmE in words like kitten, cotton, button, satin. Would that do, or are you asking specifically about the one in didn't (which I would guess is a rarer instance of essentially the same phenomenon)? – Peter Shor Sep 28 '16 at 14:40
  • Thanks Peter. I have waited for some time before moving beyond the possibility that it may just normal statistical variation. But it is quite distinct and widespread and I can detect no unifying pattern. Even careful Brit speakers will tend to shorten the middle 't/tt' in your list of words in the direction of gl-isation so that I chalk up to normal lenition. One of my native languages has g/stops (!) so I am pretty attuned to them. Further, in learning English, my fellow countryfolk do not carry over the g/s. I also cite 'didn't' as an example because it's an unsual candidate for g/s'ing. – neveRu Sep 28 '16 at 16:37
  • See this question. – Peter Shor Sep 29 '16 at 21:06
  • Peter. Again with a thank you. I shall fine tooth comb my way through those responses and see how my hair is parted on the other side. And I shall keep my ears peeled for more occurrences, mainly on everymantv – neveRu Sep 30 '16 at 7:44

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