One stigmatized feature of Utah speech is the “dropped t” in words such as kitten and mountain. We investigated three possible phonetic correlates of “t-dropping” by recording participants from Utah and other Western states reading a document containing several instances of /t/ followed by a syllabic nasal. The first possible correlate, actual deletion of /t/, was uncommon but occurred slightly more often in the mouths of Utahns. The second possible correlate was realizing /t/ as a glottal stop, which was actually done more often by non-Utahns than Utahns (89% versus 81%, resp.). The third correlate, releasing the glottal stop orally rather than nasally (e.g., [khiɁƏn] and [mawɁƏn] vs. [khiɁƏn̩] and [mawɁƏn̩]) is the most likely candidate for “t-dropping” since Utahns did this in 17% of the cases compared to less than 1% in non-Utahns. Logistic regression analysis of the data indicates that age, percentage of life lived in Utah, and gender were strong predictors of oral release; it was used most often by young females who had lived the majority of their life in Utah.
Research Article| August 01 2012
David Eddington, Matthew Savage; Where Are the Moun[ɁƏ]ns in Utah?. American Speech 1 August 2012; 87 (3): 336–349. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-1958345
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