Tuesday, 3 July 2012

assignment answer

The answer to yesterday’s ‘assignment’ is that in everyday RP t-glottalling has been frequent and unremarkable for a good half-century or more for word-final /t/ when the next word begins with an obstruent, thus right behind, right day, right guess, right thing, right shape, or a nasal or liquid, thus right name, right man, right royal, right letter.

It’s also frequent (though purists might jib at it) where the next word begins with a semivowel, as right unit, right one. Those are all cases where I would happily use a glottalled /t/ myself.

The environment where we are now starting to get glottalling from many speakers (though not from the likes of me) is in absolute-final (prepausal) position, or when the following word begins with a vowel, thus Right!, right after, right underneath, right as rain..

Right is NEVER prounounced raɪ (‘rye’).

Before a homorganic plosive or affricate, as in right time, right day, right choice, right joke you can alternatively have a no-audible-release t, which may be difficult to distinguish auditorily from a glottal stop.

9 comments:

  1. I'm giving myself a B- for my attempt.

    What about in U-RP? Is it still unacceptable in all cases there? Or is asking about the current state of U-RP akin to asking about the state of a traditional dialect that's only spoken by the few remaining of the very few?

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    1. Awaiting Professor Wells's response, have you heard Penny Dyer talking in that BBC Radio show I've linked to? Or maybe it wasn't Penny, it was Barbara Berkery or — Neil Swain:

      With "Atonement's" aristocratic Tallis family, "The vowels are very short, very clipped, the consonants very sharp and very articulated and muscular," he explains. "There was no sense at that time of people (in England's upper class) having to come out and meet others with their speech. They felt very comfortable in themselves, and they weren't used to being contradicted."

      So, in my opinion, a glottal stop just wouldn't go there. Perhaps in fleeting fast speech only.

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    2. I had a quick listen. I heard the programme when it first came out, so I didn't listen to it throughout again. That might have been the case with U-RP back when Elizabeth II was crowned, but what is the case today?

      I don't know if many people under the age of 60 speak U-RP. The only examples I know of famous U-RP speakers are people into their 80s and 90s in age.

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    3. I guess we shall have to wait for someone to tell us that. I think this is actually another instance of confusing terminology and perhaps one should introduce a dichotomy trad RP (Clive Upton) and U-RP (John Wells) to mean two different things. Trad for something from the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century and U-RP for whatever the upper classes use in any given era.

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  2. I'll print out this post, if you don't mind -just for private study.

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  3. There are plenty of Google hits for writers reign, and I'd hazard a guess that most of these relate to an intentional (non-rhotic) pun on right as rain. I take it, from what you're saying, that these are starting to contrast in RP.

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  4. It’s also frequent (though purists might jib at it) where the next word begins with a semivowel, as right unit, right one.

    Does it make a difference whether the vowel after the /j/ is strong or weak? For some reason, right unit sounds OK to me with a glottal stop but it sounds weird with an affricate, whereas the reverse applies to let you and similar.

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  5. "The environment where we are now starting to get glottalling from many speakers (though not from the likes of me) is in absolute-final (prepausal) position, or when the following word begins with a vowel, thus Right!, right after, right underneath, right as rain.."

    I do that... as far as I'm aware, I always have done, and I'm 50yrs old, orig from SE England/Hertfordshire

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  6. Here's my American take on these forms:

    Unexploded: right behind, right name, right letter, Right!. However write letters seems to be a glottal stop.

    Glottal stop: right day, right guess, right man, right royal, right unit, right one

    Affricate: right thing, right shape. In these cases the /t/ moves into the following onset and forms an affricate with the following fricative.

    Flap: right after, right underneath, right as rain

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