“The new exclamation point”

« previous post | next post »

Today’s Zits:

The idea makes sense in the abstract, but I don’t think I’ve actually heard any young people talking like this. On the other hand, I’m not completely sure what “this” is really supposed to sound like.

One plausible theory is that the final consonants released into schwas for emphasis would be like the performance style of certain preachers:

But there’s nothing “new” about that — and someone I don’t see this fervent style translating into Sara’s icy put-down of Jermey’s childish display.

Another alternative would be the somewhat prissy released final consonants -especially stops — that one sometimes hears, either as emphatic hyperarticulation or as a general affectation. (I haven’t found any clear examples in popular culture on the web, but I’ll keep looking, and maybe a reader can point us to some examples.) But I wouldn’t expect to hear this with a final /l/ as in Pierce’s comment.



70 Comments

  1. Catsidhe said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    My kids (6 and 8; Melbourne, Australia) do it all the time, especially after vowels. “Daddy-yuh! What does this mean?” “Mummy-yuh? When’s dinner?” “No-wuh!” “Go away-yuh!” “Mum!, <sister>’s touching me-yuh!”

    It seems to be used as a stress marker, but I’ll have to listen harder to see if it shows up in non-stressed speech or final consonants.

  2. Sam said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 9:52 pm

    I think I know what this is supposed to be (an appended schwa or lax u [the upside-down omega in IPA), but I always interpret it as whiny (“GOD-uh! I KNOW-uh!”)

  3. blahedo said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

    The mental audio I’m associating with the girl’s speech in that comic strikes me as late-80s valley girl rather than anything I’ve heard recently. So I’m not really sure what the author’s getting at.

  4. Christopher Sundita said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

    I hear this often among kids and teenagers – I think I may have done it myself at that age (or recently. *ahem*)

    I was thinking, too, that it could be something that originated in the released final stops to be emphatic about what’s said. And from there, the schwa-like vowel spread to sounds where you normally would not get release/aspiration/breathiness.

    Or perhaps, the speaker still lets their vocal cords vibrate even if the articulators are not doing anything as a way of holding the floor and/or expressing frustration/disapproval.

    Interesting strip though!

  5. Minivet said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

    Pop culture example: Zapp Brannigan of Futurama. That’s definitely in the “prissy” category.

  6. SB said,

    September 12, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

    This isn’t new.

    I clearly remember my sister doing this when she was annoyed or exasperated as a child in the mid-80s. I particularly remember her saying “No-uh” because I would tease her for always talking about some guy named Noah.

  7. maidhc said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 1:40 am

    I think this is different from the preaching example. I agree that it sounds like the cutoff of an extended sound. And it implies sarcasm or something similar. It often is accompanied by eye-rolling.

    “GOD-uh! I KNOW-uh!” sounds exactly right. In the second case because you’re extending a vowel and then cutting it off. In the first case, because the D causes you to put your tongue against the roof of your mouth, and the sound you get is when you take it away.

    It may be that only certain terminal sounds produce the effect. I have a hard time hearing it with T, because T already ends with that sound anyway. I would hear “What’s tha-tuh?” with an exaggerated T, not “What’s that-tuh?”.

    Someone will have to annoy a teenager in order to collect more samples.

  8. Dan M. said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 2:06 am

    First, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of the comic author writing this about sounds that he’s never actually heard it done with. (I find the middle panel especially implausible.)

    Alternately, this could be marking only part of the fairly common intonation. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s normally spelt with periods between words: for instance “Stop. It.” But I think the author is still getting that wrong because the extra something occurs at the end of each word, not just the final word.

    On the third hand, I have no trouble at all hearing what Catsidhe describes, except that it seems to me completely incompatible with most American accents, which makes it unlikely to be in this comic.

  9. David said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 2:50 am

    Like Catsidhe, this is something my kids did a lot when they were younger (perhaps 3-5).

    In other news, I miss my daughter calling lunch “munch.”

  10. Nathan Myers said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 4:14 am

    I wonder if this is really a matter of orthography, where English has no good representation of the glottal stop. Using the Hawaiian convention of apostrophes for stops, we could transcribe the common nursery rhyme in child-speak,

    I’m a li’le helpless, short on clou’ Here is my whine and here is my pou’ Every time I’m stepped on hear me shou’ Don’t keep doin’ that ! Cut it ou’ !

  11. The Ridger said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 5:15 am

    @Nathan: “common”? That’s the first time I’ve heard that. I love this blog-uh.

    But I don’t think he’s doing a glottal stop. It’s more vocalized than that.

  12. Pflaumbaum said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 5:17 am

    Re ‘prissy’ final stops, it seems to me that where Prince William has quite a few glottal stops, his wife Kate Middleton regularly produces a full final [t] even in positions where traditional RP would have pre-glottalised [ʔt]. To me it suggests an attempt to sound aristocratic, but maybe that’s unfair.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK3ODM5S0L

  13. tom said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:03 am

    Mark E Smith from the Fall has been talking like that for nigh on 30 years
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-Ff-7ui9BY

    [(myl) This would be easier to evaluate if I could understand him at all. Can you provide a transcript for this bit, for example?

    ]

  14. Kylopod said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    Does this have anything to do with the practice among American children of saying “Nuh-uh” for “no” and “Yuh-huh” for “yes”? That’s at least a generation old; I remember hearing kids do it back in the ’80s when I was a kid, though you were expected to stop doing it after you reached a certain age–12 maybe. (It’s heard in one scene in The Emperor’s New Groove.)

    [(myl) I don’t think so. There’s a range of grunts traditionally used by English speakers for assent and dissent:

    assent: [ʔʌˈɦʌ] , [ʔm̩ˈɦm] ,̩ [?n̩ˈɦn] , etc.
    dissent: [ˈʔʌ.ʔʌ] , [ˈʔm̩.ʔm] ,̩ [ˈ?n̩.ʔn] , etc.

    The forms conventionally spelled “nuh-uh” and “yuh-huh” are (I think) blends of these with “no” and “yes” (or more likely “nah” and “yeah”).]

  15. Dave said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:38 am

    In french, “quit it!” is the imperative of arrêter, which is spelled “arrête” and normally pronounced ending on the -t, but when speaking to small children (or those who exasperate the speaker by acting like such), it commonly gets extended into “a..ret..TUH”. However, I’d thought this petulant pronunciation was a francophone peculiarity (and had ascribed it to nursery rhyme conventions), not having noticed it in english before running across this post…

    [(myl) Does this effect in French extend to cases where these is no “e muet”, which traditionally may be pronounced for added emphasis as a form of hyperarticulation?]

  16. GeorgeW said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:42 am

    I wonder if this (at least with evangelical preachers) is an unconscious attempt to counter the tendency for final consonants to erode by making them an onset.

    [(myl) FWIW (which is not much), my own theory is that this originated with vocalized intakes of breath — gasps, essentially — in the speech of someone who is shouting quickly and eager to get on to the next phrase. At some point it was reanalyzed as a stylistic marker, normally not performed ingressively.]

  17. Trimegistus said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:52 am

    Is this the same exaggerated pronunciation which used to be shown in text as a multiplied final consonant? “Come onnn!” or “I knowww!” Because I’ve heard that in use, but I’ve never heard any actual voiced vowel after the consonant. (It may be a regionalism: most of my life has been spent in the South and Northeast U.S., where final consonants get dropped more than emphasized.)

    [(myl) It’s hard to be sure what people really mean when they use such informal extensions of orthography, but I’ve always assumed that these replicated final consonants represent exaggerated final lengthening rather than an unexpectedly vigorous release. The fact that your (I think quite typical) examples involve a vowel (“knowww”) and a nasal (“onnn”) fits this theory.]

  18. GeorgeW said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:08 am

    ” . . my own theory is that this originated with vocalized intakes of breath — gasps, essentially — in the speech of someone who is shouting quickly and eager to get on to the next phrase.”

    In the clip in the post, it does seem to occur phrase final (not consistently word final) and before he takes a breath.

    Is this the case with child speech as well?

  19. ed cook said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:33 am

    Another example is in the song “Breathless” by Jerry Lee Lewis (1958): “You leave me … breathless-uh.”

    YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvAgbyI8ris

  20. Pflaumbaum said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:41 am

    MYL said –

    This would be easier to evaluate if I could understand him at all. Can you provide a transcript for this bit, for example?

    “Must be hard. I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t bring, er, up any kids, me, it’s hard with the bloody group, that’s… enough for me.”

    That last that’s might be what’s, though I’m not sure how grammatical that would be in Smith’s dialect (Manc + lifetime of booze).

  21. Alexander said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:59 am

    For a classic example of the famous Mark E Smith line-final “-uh” you can listen to the Peel Sessions version of “Middle Mass”, starting at 0:57 here.

    Summer close season-uh
    A quiet dope and cider man-uh
    But during the season-uy
    Hard drug and cider mates-uh

    Etc. I’m sure someone has done a distributional analysis of where he does and do not put it.

  22. Hugo said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:04 am

    To follow up on Dave’s post, I’d add that yes, it does happen quite often even with words ending with a consonant without a “e muet”. At least in Quebec French.

    For example, an annoyed child, finally giving up the fight about whether or not to clean his room, could say “o-kay-uh”. However, I wouldn’t see this happening in contexts other than when expressing a complain. The “I know-uh” could very well happen as “Je le sais-uh”. Even now, in my mid-twenties, I sometimes talk like that, but more to be annoying on purpose than to express my own annoyance. ;)

    However, the strip doesn’t make that much sense to me, as except for the “Stop i-tuh”, none of the “-uh” refers to a complaint. Strangely, even though I never went there, it strikes me as a stereotyped Australian accent.

  23. anchorageite said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:06 am

    Saw a license plate on a Ford Focus this morning that read FORDUH.

  24. Jacob said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    No way啦!

  25. Gav said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:39 am

    My old man
    said, follow the van,
    and don’t dilly dally
    on the wayyyyyUH!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1NHh3gE4c0

  26. Faldone said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    This over-articulation of final consonants sounds like something we are urged by our director to do in choral singing. Final stops, in particular, can get muddied and lost when you have a large group that isn’t quite 100% in sync.

  27. Edward Carney said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 10:56 am

    Curiously, a simple transposition will turn what he said into the more likely version: “coo-uhl.”

    Here’s a reference from Voice Interaction Design: Crafting the New Conversational Speech Systems (2004) by Randy Allen Harris:

    “My only consolation is that now I get to see others propagating similar distortions on language in the Pursuit of Cool. Among the most common as I write this (but probably so five-minutes-ago by the time you read it) are the bisyllabic pronunciation of cool (coo-uhl!) and the really long vowel of sweet…” (p. 272)

  28. g d gustafsson said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 1:03 pm

    This is very common to hear among youth conversationally at least in California…it reminds me of the “…la” ending I heard whilst living in Singapore and seems to be used similarly.

  29. Chandra said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    I’m pretty sure this is not meant to represent either a glottal stop or a drawn-out consonant as some have suggested, but precisely that additional schwa added on to the end of “no” by whiny children that turns it into the two-syllable “NO-wuh!”, as others have mentioned.

    And I agree that the comic writer is stretching it a bit (quite a bit) when he tries to extend this phenomenon to words ending in a voiceless stop or words with a positive connotation, but then I suspect that is kind of the point of the joke.

  30. Angel said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    How I Met Your Mother, Season 6, Episode 1. See Robin at the beginning of the episode. Unkempt, upset, and unpredictable, she exhibits this speech behavior when she walks into the bar.

  31. rehana said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

    I’ve heard whiny children doing this, never teenagers. I thought the middle panel was the punchline and found the last panel completely implausible. It’s not the same as “Come onnn”. (I grew up in Pittsburgh, in case people want to try to figure out if it’s regional.)

  32. Peter said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

    I can’t claim that this is its origin in English but its a completely normal thing to do in Chinese, both Mandarin and Cantonese. Furthermore there are many characters all with the same sound and have the same function when placed at the end of a sentence.

  33. Jess said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

    Transcription of the segment from Mark E Smith that myl singled out in Tom’s comment above:

    “Must be hard. I couldn’t do–I couldn’t bring up any kids, me. It’s hard with a bloody group; that’s f–enough for me.”

    I don’t hear any examples of the -UH ending discussed in the post, though–not in this excerpt at least.

  34. cls said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

    I can’t resist pointing out that for French, the addition of schwas at the ends of words has received serious scholarly attention. (I’m talking about Parisian French, where unlike southern French it’s not a typical dialect feature, and in words where there’s no etymological or other obvious motivation for the schwa.) One of the best articles on this topic is “Le [ə] prépausal et l’interaction”, by Anita Berit Hansen and Maj-Britt Mosegaard Hansen (2003), Etudes Romanes 54, 89-109. They conclude that speakers do it to draw the listener’s attention to a specific element of the discourse (“d’attirer l’attention de l’interlocuteur sur un élément important du discours”).

  35. figleaf said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

    I think Catsidhe nailed it in the first comment. While our Australian vs. Pacific Northwest children both speak English I’m guessing they do so with decidedly different accents. But it sounds like we’ve both heard children from very early ages adding “exclamation-point” syllables. For instance “No-uh” when “no” or even “noooooo” doesn’t work.

    Having grown up hearing pentacostal preachers doing that kind of rump “speaking in tongues” business where they just throw “-aaah” on the end of sentences (and sometimes phrases) my ear says the way kids do it and preachers do it probably have different origins.

    figleaf

  36. Allan L. said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

    Sen. Ron Wyden talks like that-tuh. Always has.

  37. Eric P Smith said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

    The first time I was aware of the phrase-final “-uh” was Liza Minnelli’s performance of Maybe This Time in Cabaret (1972):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W59lclspEtQ

    She does it repeatedly from 1:38 to the end of the song. I suppose it is meant to sound lustful.

  38. chh said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

    Just in case this matters to anyone, I’m fairly certain this doesn’t have anything to do with final consonants. In my experience (as an elementary school student in the late 1980s), a final schwa like the kind this strip is talking about can appear after open final syllables, too (“no”, “go”, “why”). SB pointed the same thing out. Sorry I don’t have any recordings to confirm this.

    Still, I have the lingering impression that syllable structure is sometimes more restricted in this style of speaking. Saying ‘clean’ as ‘kuh-leen-uh’ seems much more likely than ‘kleen-uh’. I don’t know if others (perhaps those who still hear this) have the same impression.

  39. John said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 8:13 pm

    My 17-yr-old daughter does this all the time when she’s angry, exactly like the girl in the strip. We mock her mercilessly…to no avail. (Northern NJ)

  40. Sandy said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

    Yes, my 13 year old daughter does this all the time. Usually it is “okayyyuh!” or “mommmuh!”

  41. Joshua said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

    Eric P Smith: I’m not hearing it the same way; the only unusually articulated final consonants I hear in the song are around 2:01 and 2:46, at the end of the word “sometime” (both times the word is sung). I didn’t notice any extra schwas at the end of other words in the song.

  42. YM said,

    September 13, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

    The “Minister’s accent” (which the Simpsons’ Rev. Lovejoy uses even in private conversations), is, I believe, intended for clarity, even in an echoey church. Stage actors are also trained to overemphasise final consonants, so they don’t accidentally devoice and disappear (or something like that). I’ve always wondered if this enunciation is limited to American protestant ministers, and how far back the tradition goes.

  43. m.m. said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 5:16 am

    im with blahedo and g d gustafsson on it being reminiscent of valley girl/california and youth in general, but my perception is that its something which occurs in very low frequency, which lends to not finding video of natural usage xD

  44. Dave said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 6:24 am

    To follow up on myl, hugo, and cls, at the Projet Phonologie du Français Contemporain under the rubric «Le e prépausal» there’s a short blurb stating that it’s (1) frequent, especially in youth language, (2) independent of orthography, and (3) serves to mark the end of a rhythmic group. There are a few sound samples as well as the observation (ndlr : definitely not limited to youth language) that «l’exemple canonique est l’expression Bonjour ! prononcée [bõʒurə]».

  45. A. said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 8:58 am

    Some of my students do this. I teach aural skills (the musical kind) to college freshmen, and I record all the performed exams for easier grading, so I actually have a recording of a student saying: “Oh my God-uh! I’m usually so good at this stuff-uh!”, which I’d post if I didn’t feel like it would be a violation of privacy. It does seem to be functioning as a kind of emphasis in that case.

  46. Chris said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 9:51 am

    Pop culture example: the marching band at the University of California, Davis (ucdavis.edu) has been known as “The Band-uh” for at least thirty years if not longer. It even says so on the website. (Search on “band”)

  47. Eric P Smith said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 10:16 am

    @Joshua

    I am intrigued at our differing perceptions. I should say that I am not talking solely about final consonants (as in the comic strip) but I am widening the matter to include final vowels (as in several of the above readers’ comments). From 1:32 in the Liza Minnelli clip I hear:

    Lady Peaceful
    Lady Happy-uh
    That’s what I long to be-uh
    Well all the odds are
    They’re in my favour-uh
    Something’s bound to begin
    It’s got to happen-uh
    Happen some time-uh
    Maybe this time I’ll win-uh

    Cos everybody-uh
    Oh, they love a winner
    So nobody loved me-uh
    Lady Peaceful
    Lady Happy-uh
    That’s what I long to be-uh
    Well all the odds are
    They’re in my favour
    Something’s bound to begin-uh
    It’s got to happen-uh
    Happen some time-uh
    Maybe this time-uh
    Maybe this time I’ll win.

    Moreover, I have only marked the most prominent examples: those that do not sound (to my ears) like the normal hyper-articulated diction that I would expect of any professional singer aiming at clarity. And I hear them not as a schwa but as a lax open mid-back vowel with more stress than a schwa.

    This to my mind raises two questions:
    1) Is adding -uh to a final vowel an essentially different phenomenon from adding -uh to a final consonant?
    2) Is there a UK-US difference in the phenomenon and therefore in its perception? (I am UK; Liza Minnelli is of course US; I am guessing from your name that you are US, and I apologise if I am presuming too much.)

  48. Susan said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 10:42 am

    I have one 13-year old who has been saying “No-uh!” when agitated for as long as I can remember, even though the rest of us tend to make fun of it.

  49. Mimi said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 11:57 am

    Just watch an episode of Modern Family. The teenaged daughters (particularly the older one) display this perfectly. It’s hilarious and I’ve taken to imitating it when I feel especially cranky :)

  50. Justice4Rinka said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

    At the risk of being totally irrelevant, Japanese phonetic renditions of English words do something similar to remind the speaker to land heavily on the final consonant.

    This the Japanese for a Big Mac is “Biggu Makku”. It’s not pronounced “Biggoo Maccoo”. It’s pronounced “Big Mac”.

    They do this with their own words too. There was a Japanese warship called “Syokaku” (or “Shokaku”) which was pronounced “Show Cack” – a two-syllable word.

    I haven’t heard this vocalisation either but isn’t it somewhat the same? You pronounce right past the end of the syllable?

  51. Rod Johnson said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

    @Justice–I have heard “Biggu Makku” and the like (where the final “u” is actually a high back or central unrounded vowel, rarely actually a [u]) quite often. The same thing happens in French and in Finnish, and in lots of other languages with primarily CV syllable structure–an epenthetic “prop vowel” is added to satisfy the phonotactic constraints of the target language while retaining the contrastive final consonant from the source language. What you’re hearing as “land heavily on the final consonant” I hear as “create a new syllable with the final consonant as onset.”

    In Dholuo, which I’ve worked on, the same kind of epenthetic vowel occurs in certain other contexts, and I’ve observed that (a) there’s a lot of variation between fully vocalized (with tone contour and everything) and completely absent, and (b) native speakers have a hard time perceiving it regardless of how fully it’s pronounced.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar kind of fleeting, hard to consistently perceive status applied to the mysterious “uh” in the English examples above. There’s probably a continuum in the final stop of a word like “not” from unreleased (the canonical pronunciation) to aspirated (which could be analyzed as a voiceless “prop vowel”) to fully vocalized (“uh”). Some people are going to hear it, and other are going to insist it’s not there. Without instrumental evidence, it’s hard to reliably say much about it.

  52. Russell said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

    @Justice4Rinka

    I don’t doubt that some Japanese speakers refer to the burger without the final vowels, but they often (perhaps even usually) are in fact there. Listen to the following at around 15 seconds.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfH_en_pjNo

    The trick is that “u” at the end of a word is often devoiced, and so ends up being basically a puff of air. But it’s there! (at least, for now)

  53. Maya said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

    I’m not sure if I’ve heard this either, but I just had an undergraduate student comment on it the other day. His observation was that the girls in his dorm “end all their words with -uh.”

  54. Gregg said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

    True, in Japan I was always Gregg-uh (OK, maybe the -uh was little more than a puff of air, but the Japanese couldn’t seem to end a word with a hard consonant). As far as the comic strip goes, when I read it (and I work with teenagers every day) I was totally at a loss. I have never heard this – consciously.

  55. Ken Brown said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

    Maybe this is one way languages develop inflection? ;-)

    OK, maybe it isn’t….

  56. Carl Offner said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

    In answer to a question about “nuh-uh” and “yuh-huh”, Mark wrote:

    [(myl) I don’t think so. There’s a range of grunts traditionally used by English speakers for assent and dissent:

    assent: [ʔʌˈɦʌ] , [ʔm̩ˈɦm] ,̩ [?n̩ˈɦn] , etc.
    dissent: [ˈʔʌ.ʔʌ] , [ˈʔm̩.ʔm] ,̩ [ˈ?n̩.ʔn] , etc.

    The forms conventionally spelled “nuh-uh” and “yuh-huh” are (I think) blends of these with “no” and “yes” (or more likely “nah” and “yeah”).]

    When I lived south of Boston (and taught Junior HIgh there), I remember noticing that quite often — maybe almost invariably — the final syllables in these utterances (or whatever they’re called) were distinctly nasal. I don’t know what significance if any this had, but it was really noticeable.

  57. teucer said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

    I don’t think there’s actually a spoken version, but there’s definitely been a trend lately (or maybe that’s just the recency illusion) in casual textual media (Facebook comment, SMS, etc) of emphasizing a word by repeating the last letter over and over, whereas previously we might have drawn out the main vowel. I think the authors are mistaking this for something that might be pronounced, and spelling how they imagine it’s supposed to sound.

  58. Joshua said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

    @Eric P Smith: Listening to the song again, I do hear most of the sounds you refer to, but they sound more like exhalations to me than intentionally pronounced sounds.

  59. Diana said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

    Teenagers across New York (NYC, Long Island) often add the annoying phoneme at the end of their utterances. I’ve heard it many times.

  60. Ross Presser said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 1:59 am

    Here is my reading.

    http://media.io:8080/download/accented.mp3

    The “whiny voice” becomes extra long vowels, and the ending consonants sort of explode a bit – leaving a schwa sound at the end.

  61. Ellen K. said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 9:25 am

    Re the Liza Minelli song, I don’t think it’s fair to compare singing to speech. Different things. Sounds to me like what she’s doing is articulating the closing sound, and in some cases doing so adds a vowel, or perhaps only a perception of a vowel because of pronouncing the consonant.

    In the cases where a phrase ends in a vowel, what I hear her doing is closing the diphthong. Yes, for some of us the vowel in “me” isn’t a diphthong, but it is for others. (Or so I understand; I’m not an expert.) I’m not sure the 2nd syllable of happy would have a diphthong for anyone in speech, but this isn’t speech, it’s singing. She’s pronouncing it like it ends in a y, because of the diphthong of the vowel.

  62. Ellen K. said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 9:29 am

    Oops… I meant to put, end of first paragraph,

    …because of pronouncing the consonant like at the beginning of a syllable.

    That’s what I get for being interrupted… forgot what I’d meant to say.

  63. Chandra said,

    September 15, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

    @teucer – I’m familiar with the phenomenon you speak of, and the one the cartoonist is depicting, and I personally doubt they’re the same thing. The Facebookesque repeated-final-consonant (which irks the bejesus out of me, despite my best efforts to remain descrptivistly detached and observant) seems to be mainly used in positive contexts: “Happy birthdayyyyyyyyyy!”, “thankssssss”, etc., whereas the whiny phoneme shown in the cartoon is almost exclusively reserved for showing annoyance, anger, hurt feelings, etc.

    These are, of course, merely anecdotal personal observations and I may be proven wrong, but those are my impressions.

  64. What a dump! « Gray and White and Cloudy said,

    September 16, 2011 @ 1:35 am

    […] was tempted to add this to the discussion/comments on the Language Log “new exclamation point” post, but decided this is breathy rather than voiced, so didn’t. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike […]

  65. Christopher L. Bennett said,

    September 18, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

    The example that springs to mind for me is Amy Pond’s speech at the climax of DOCTOR WHO: “The Big Bang”: “I remember you, Doctor, and you are late for my wedding-ah!” Although I didn’t take that as a self-conscious affectation so much as a side effect of the actress just putting a lot of breath and volume and emotion into the line and having a bit left over following the terminal consonant. When I try saying “wedding” aloud, I notice I do continue exhaling a bit beyond the “ng,” so if someone were being really loud and emotional they might inadvertently voice that final bit of breath.

    Which reminds me of something else from DOCTOR WHO, the late-’60s episode “Tomb of the Cybermen,” in which the Cybermen’s voices were generated by placing a tone generator against an actor’s larynx and mouthing the dialogue in order to modulate the tone into speech. Sometimes the tone continued after the end of a line and thus would result in an extra “ahh” sound appended at the end.

  66. David Marjanović said,

    September 19, 2011 @ 5:14 am

    [(myl) Does this effect in French extend to cases where these is no “e muet”, which traditionally may be pronounced for added emphasis as a form of hyperarticulation?]

    Yes. When they’re not spelling, native speakers are not aware of where this etymological “e muet” belongs. When I lived in Paris, there was a problem with métro line 5 for several months, so, several times I day, I was treated to sur la ligne cinq slowly pronounced as “sur la ligneuh cinqueuh” – the end drawn out and followed by a pause.

    Importantly, in northern French, this is not [ə] (or the southern [ɐ]) but a rounded and more or less front vowel. I’ve seen the spelling euh (as in “arrêteuh !”) before.

  67. Hayley said,

    September 23, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

    I’m seventeen; my friends do this all the time. It’s not as emphatic as an exclamation point, though–it’s just sort of whiny. One of my friends is nicknamed “Stoppa” because she says it so much…

  68. Lisa said,

    September 26, 2011 @ 11:26 am

    It sounds like my students’ Konglish (Korean/English mix).

  69. Brooke said,

    October 9, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    The opening skit on SNL last night demonstrated this in a political sketch featuring some whiney adults (starts right after 4:00): http://www.hulu.com/watch/287088/saturday-night-live-cold-opening-mitt-romney-chris-christie

  70. JP said,

    October 26, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

    I asked a friend how he’d call this particular phenomenon, and he brought me here to this here place!

    That video of the pastor reminded me of this song that I heard when I was a kid. I think the title was “I Like to Singa”:

    http://youtu.be/zj1FifK3bbg

RSS feed for comments on this post