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Today's Pearls Before Swine explores the consequences of flapping and voicing in American English:


  1. Levantine said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 7:43 am

    An American friend of mine who works at Cambridge was talking about the bedder who cleans her room — it took me a few seconds to work out she wasn't referring to her 'better' (and the irony of the homophone in the context of the British class system wasn't lost on either of us).

  2. Peter said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 9:14 am

    Where is tooter homophonic to tutor, Tudor? Most areas I’m familiar with (UK, various parts of NAm), the latter begin with /tju-/ , /tʃu-/, or something in between, while tooter begins with just /tu-/.

  3. Brett said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 9:24 am

    @Peter: In my speech, "tooter" and "tutor" are perfect homophones. ("Tudor" is distinguishable in careful speech, with a longer vowel in the first syllable.) My accent is sort of a mixture of northern American, since moved around a lot early in my life.

  4. Levantine said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 9:40 am

    Peter, I can't imagine most Americans pronouncing the yod in either 'tutor' or 'Tudor'. Even 'news' is standardly pronounced without it in American English. It's always puzzled me that 'coupon', conversely, is often said with a yod by Americans.

  5. bks said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 9:47 am

    Tudor as opposed to sedan?

  6. Laura Morland said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 10:00 am

    Just chiming in here to second @Brett's statement:

    "@Peter: In my speech, "tooter" and "tutor" are perfect homophones. ("Tudor" is distinguishable in careful speech, with a longer vowel in the first syllable.)"

    FYI, I am from the American South, but left early enough to have an "accentless accent" … in AE, of course.

  7. Michael said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

    Levantine, I had never heard of a "bedder." Is that British? Tooter, tutor are homophones for me, but Tudor is fairly distinct. I use the yod in "coupon" (Virginia-rural Maryland accent)

  8. Michael Watts said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 12:16 pm

    Speaking as an American, I would view "tutor" [tʲuɾɚ] as an affectation deserving of mockery, and "tutor" [tʃuɾɚ] (chooter?) as completely impossible. I agree that /tj/ normally coalesces to [tʃ], though.

  9. Nick Barnes said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 1:05 pm

    A "bedder" is a cleaner in a Cambridge college. They clean residential rooms (of students and fellows). Once upon a time this cleaning extended to making the beds, hence "bed-maker" and latterly "bedder".

  10. Guy said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 1:45 pm


    /tu/ for "tutor" and "Tudor" is what I would consider normal for most US accents. /tju/ sounds markedly British to my ears, though it's probably a pronunciation in some parts of North America. I would have guessed that /tʃu/ doesn't occur anywhere. I can't think of any place where that sound change occurs word-initially, but there may be obvious counter-examples I'm not thinking of.

    I'm reminded of a person who recently told me that /nju/ is the standard pronunciation of "new" in the US, despite the fact that that virtually all US dictionaries say /nu/ and mark /nju/ as "chiefly British" or something similar. I think "yod-dropping" is one area frequently subject to the phoneme replecement effect among people who are yod-retaining.

  11. Robot Therapist said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 2:02 pm

    Us Oxford chaps tended to have a "scout" rather than a "bedder".

    I have learned something today – the word "yod". Yes, that kewpon thing baffles me too.

    I believe that in UK RP, the "ee" bit in words like "flute" (flee-oot) used to be much more pronounced a century or so ago (sorry, this is absolee-ootly not my area of study) and that "ee" part is becoming much shorter – flute is now just "floot" for nearly everyone. In tutor it is still there enough to distinguish tutor from tooter – but "chooter" is now pretty widely acceptable.

  12. Robot Therapist said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 2:05 pm

    > A "bedder" is a cleaner in a Cambridge college. They clean residential rooms (of students and fellows).

    By the way, their function is nowadays more like "spies" than cleaners: keeping a close eye on the undergraduates.

  13. Michael Watts said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 2:16 pm

    A tooter who tooted a flute
    tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
    Said the two to the tooter,
    "Is it harder to toot, or
    to tutor two tooters to toot?"

    ( http://www.funnypoets.com/poetry/theflutetutor.htm )

  14. Lazar said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 3:54 pm

    I agree that /tj/ normally coalesces to [tʃ], though.

    Only in unstressed syllables. Historic /tj/, /dj/ in stressed syllables regularly become /t/, /d/ in AmEng.

    I would have guessed that /tʃu/ doesn't occur anywhere. I can't think of any place where that sound change occurs word-initially, but there may be obvious counter-examples I'm not thinking of.

    Coalescence of /tj/, /dj/ to /tʃ/, /dʒ/ in stressed syllables is extremely common throughout Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

  15. Guy said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 4:19 pm


    I should clarify that I meant that as phonemic matter, not a matter of allophonic variation. I thought (but may be wrong) that those pronunciations are simply a matter of an underlying /tj/ being realized as [tʃ], and not something like the /ʃ/ in "lotion", where the /tj/ is pretty clearly only present in etymology, and not synchronically present in any meaningful sense. Do any of those dialects make a phonemic distinction between word initial /tj/ and /tʃ/ but give "tutor" the latter?

  16. Michael Watts said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

    Lazar – I, unlike Guy, was talking about allophonic variation, to which "historic" sounds aren't relevant. For example, I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!" realized with [tʃ] as the t-y sequence of "get you". It's not necessary for the syllable "you" to be reduced for that change to occur.

  17. David Cameron Staples said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 5:56 pm

    And people say there's no phonemic palatalization in English.

  18. postageincluded said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 6:35 pm

    "Where is tooter homophonic to tutor…?"

    You don't need to go to the US to hear a dropped yod. It's common in England too, certainly in the East Midlands and East Anglia – the once famous ad for Bernard Matthews' "bootiful" Norfolk turkeys is a well known example in the UK.

    I first came across this when I moved to Nottingham in the 70s and was puzzled to hear "noo" and "stoo" for "new" and "stew" – which sounded faux-American to me at that time and probably moreso as I had moved from North East England where words like "boot" and "fool" were regularly pronounce with a yod as "byeut" and "fyeul"!

  19. Levantine said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 8:13 pm

    Apparently, 'bedder' is also used at the University of Durham: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedder.

    I (a 30-something Londoner who's well enough spoken) can confirm that words like 'Tudor' and 'tune' very often become 'chooder' and 'choon' in British English (just like 'due' becomes indistinguishable from 'Jew'). My own natural speech uses these sounds, but in more formal contexts (or in the States, where such pronunciations are often not readily understand), I use the T/D-plus-yod versions. (Sorry for not using IPA.)

  20. JS said,

    May 21, 2016 @ 10:06 pm

    All American retains -yu after labial and velar consonants.

    Re: flap, a recent striking example — Radio: "… Plato …" My 5-year-old daughter: "Playdough?"

  21. Jessie said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 1:00 am

    A tutor who tooted the flute
    Tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
    Said the two to the tutor,
    "Is it harder to toot,
    or to tutor two tooters to toot?"

  22. Laura Morland said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 2:55 am

    @ Jessie – great limerick!

    I found it credited to "Anonymous" — wonder if it's of American origin.

  23. Levantine said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:16 am

    I was just reading a comments thread for a YouTube video, and someone had written that they couldn't 'help but shutter' at a particular scene, when they must have meant 'shudder'. I wonder how often the overlap in pronunciation makes people confuse the spellings in this way.

  24. R. Fenwick said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:19 am


    Coalescence of /tj/, /dj/ to /tʃ/, /dʒ/ in stressed syllables is extremely common throughout Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

    Not just in stressed syllables, but pretty much everywhere in conversational Australian English, at least: "mature" [məˈʧʰʉːə], but "picture" [ˈpʰɪ(k)ʧə].

  25. Coby Lubliner said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:28 am

    In one of Elizabeth George's novels I found "undo reverence" when "undue reverence" was meant. I don't think that's a mistake that anyone speaking southern English (the language EG tries to write in) would make.

  26. Rebecca said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:50 am

    @js "All American retains -yu after labial and velar consonants"

    Is this true? If so, there's a huge difference in the prominence/length/whatever of the "y" bit for me (an AE speaker) For example, "booty" and "beauty" are not remotely close to being homophones. And the first syllable of "Cupid" has a very clear yod, that's not there in "coop" or, for me, the first syllable of "coupon".

  27. Bob Ladd said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 10:23 am

    Rebecca – The distinctions you mention are js's point. American English retains the distinction between Cu- and Cyu- when C is labial or velar. It doesn't retain the distinction (which is very clear in many British and Antipodean varieties) when C is coronal. Hence tooter and tutor are homophones for most Americans. Toss in flapping, and you get the mess in the cartoon in the original post. But without either flapping or the neutralisation of /tu-/ and /tyu-/, it's no surprise that Language Log's British and Australian readers found the cartoon a little bewildering.

  28. Coby Lubliner said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 10:31 am

    "Coupon" aside, there is a tendency in AE to pronounce, in some words, after labial or velar consonants as [u], [ʊ] or [w] where BrE has [ju]: puma, jaguar, cumin, Nicaragua…
    In the US, medical people pronounce the in "ibuprofen" as [ju], laypeople as [ʊ].

  29. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 10:48 am

    Coby Lubliner: As an American, I've only ever heard "cumin" and "ibuprofen" with [ju]. I think I may have heard "puma" with [u], but rarely. I agree about "jaguar" and "Nicaragua". How do the British say "saguaro", if they ever say it?

  30. Rebecca said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 10:50 am

    @Bob Ladd – OK, thanks for the clarification. I took the claim of "retaining -yu after labial and velar consonants" to mean that -yu is always there in those contexts, I guess because I don't think of words lacking a -yu as having lost one (though I know, historically, that might be the case)

  31. Peter S. said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 11:13 am

    @Coby: for Spanish words, Americans tend to use pronunciations that are slightly closer to the original Spanish, which doesn't have yods, while Brits generally just use the spelling pronunciation … puma and jaguar being good examples.

  32. Rodger C said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    Ah yes, Nicaraggyua, land of igyuannas.

    @Levantine: I've seen "shutter" for "shudder" quite often online, and I think occasionally in print.

    I've also seen signs of the sort WE WILL BE CLOSED WEDNESDAY DO TO A FUNERAL.

  33. pj said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

    @Jerry Friedman

    How do the British say "saguaro", if they ever say it?

    I (BrEng, late 30s, not at all travelled in cactus-bearing regions) had never knowingly come across this word before you just made me search for it. So in general, I think it's reasonably safe to say that we don't say it much. I haven't clicked on anything that would tell me how it's pronounced: I would say (excuse laziness in not finding IPA symbols) sagWAHro if I met it and had to guess.

  34. Guy said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

    @Coby Lubliner

    I'm an American and don't think I've ever heard /ʊ/ in "ibuprofen", but it may be regional, Jerry Friedman says /u/ in "puma" is rare, but if I heard an American pronounce "puma" with a /ju/, I'd be likely to assume that they had only ever seen the word written and never heard it pronounced. In any event, The Spanish (and Portuguese) loans are an poor example of phonological change rules in American pronunciation, since the American pronunciations better match the original Spanish pronunciations. That is, in words like "Nicaragua", English pronunciation is "yod-adding", not "yod-retaining", and there is no "yod-dropping" going on in the American pronunciations. Except for "Texas", "Mexico", and "llama", American pronunciations tend to be (inexact) phonetic matches to the Spanish pronunciations, not orthography-based reinterpretations. "Coupon" is from French, so I doubt there's any "yod-dropping" (as opposed to "yod-adding") going on there either.

  35. Michael Watts said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 12:53 pm

    Laura Morland, the citation I found for the same limerick upthread credits it to Carolyn Wells. I can't affirm that, but Carolyn Wells was indeed American.

  36. Coby Lubliner said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 1:03 pm

    I cited "coupon" as an exception to the trend. In fact, it's mysterious. Far more common is French /y/ (in recent borrowings) morphing into English /u/, as in "deja vu", which English-speakers say as though it were déjà vous, or "culotte". In older borrowings, of course, we have consistently Fr /y/ → En /ju/.

  37. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 4:34 pm

    I've noticed myself consciously trying to pronounce the word 'dues' as [djʉːz] in the phrase 'pay your dues', because I don't like the sound of the phrase with a homophone of 'Jews' in there. Probably evidence of my residual shtetl mentality, but also of the fact that in natural modern RP /ty-/ and /dy-/ are pretty much dead.

    Language Log has taught us that /t/ also tends to shade into /tʃ/ when it precedes /r/, though that one applies to American accents too.

  38. Levantine said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 4:49 pm

    Pflaumbaum, I wouldn't agree that 'in natural modern RP /ty-/ and /dy-/ are pretty much dead.' Many Cambridge undergraduates I encounter on a daily basis use these sounds, and though one could argue their speech isn't natural, it doesn't seem to me that they're making any great effort to sound posh.

    As for /t/ shading into /tʃ/ before R, I'd say it's more than just a shade. Can anyone say 'tree' without actually saying 'chree'?

  39. JS said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 5:34 pm

    Actually the apparently not-complete extent to which coronal+yod words like "dew" have become homophonic with yodless "do" etc. in mainstream American pronunciation is an interesting question. It seems there is sometimes (extra) u-fronting of some sort that dodges a complete collapse; I recall Jeongsong Park pointing this out on LL at some point and recognizing the tendency in myself.

  40. Coby Lubliner said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 5:43 pm

    Levantine: not really. As someone whose native language (Polish) has /tʃ/ and /tɕ/ as distinct phonemes, I quickly learned that In English /tʃ/ is realized as something more like [tɕ], but the t in 'tree' sounds more like Polish [tʃ]. That is, 'beetroot' and 'beech root' sound quite different.

    Incidentally, it bothers me that the French have made IPA users employ digraphs for affricates. I would have preferred writing /č/ and /ć/.

  41. Levantine said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 6:08 pm

    Coby Lubliner, 'beetroot' is different, because you can end the first syllable with a T before starting the second with an R (though for what it's worth, I've heard the 'beech root' pronunciation more than once).

    As for 'tree', I'm not convinced that in most people's speech (and outside careful choral singing) it would sound any different from the hypothetical 'chree'. I did find an old LL post on this issue (where you are among the commenters), but there was no consensus there either: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3349

  42. Levantine said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 6:14 pm

    Two different audio pronunciations of 'beetroot' (neither really conforming to the accompanying written guides): http://dictionary.cambridge.org/pronunciation/english/beetroot

  43. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:03 pm

    @ Levantine

    By 'modern RP' I was lazily referring to the contemporary southern English prestige accent, complete with e.g. plentiful glottal stops, GOOSE-fronting, 'intrusive' /r/, /u/ or /o/ for final /-al/, etc. And by 'natural' I really meant I fluid speech. It's certainly possible you're right that some very posh kids at Cambridge have /ty-/… though I'd be surprised, since in my experience 20 years ago it was already absent from the conversational speech of students there who'd gone to the big public schools.

    @ Coby

    Our host MYL agrees with you, I believe, about the IPA symbols for afflictes. If I remember right he would have simple /c/ for 'ch'.

  44. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:05 pm

    Sorry for the phone typos – "affricates", etc.

  45. Guy said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:44 pm


    I can say "tree" without it being /tʃ/, (I usually articulate /r/ as bunched r, not retroflex r, so there's no articulatory difficulty for me there) but I don't. I don't think there's any phonemic contrast in syllable-initial /tr/ versus /tʃr/, so I'm not sure that it's meaningful to attempt to identify which of those phonemes is actually occurring for me in that position. That having been said, I definitely distinguish "beetroot" from "beechroot", since syllable final /t/ preceding a consonant in the next syllable is realized as [ʔ] in my speech, whereas /tʃ/ is still [tʃ].

  46. Guy said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 9:51 pm

    I suppose I should have said without it being [tʃ], hopefully there was no confusion.

  47. Levantine said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 10:41 pm

    Pflaumbaum, I wouldn't say the frequent use of /u/ or /o/ for final /-al/ is characteristic of any prestige accent — what you're describing sounds more like Estuary English to me.

    Here's an example of the kind of Oxbridge speech I mean:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCn6-3D5z2E (his pronunciation of 'tutors' around 2.15 in)

  48. Levantine said,

    May 22, 2016 @ 10:50 pm

    Guy, I didn't mean to suggest it isn't possible to say 'tree' with a distinct initial T. Clearly it is, but I doubt many of us really pronounce it this way in everyday speech.

    Coby Lubliner, would you not agree that (leaving aside length and stress) 'beach rye' sounds the same as 'bee try'?

  49. Michael Watts said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 2:22 am

    Levantine, I would be willing to defend the idea that it usually isn't possible for someone whose only native language is American english to pronounce /tr/ without [tʃ]. I don't think I can do it. It is of course possible in general.

  50. George said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 7:10 am

    With all this talk of /t/ shading into /tʃ/, I just thought I'd mention that, being Irish, I never really had a /t/ to start with…

  51. Keith said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 7:29 am

    I get this all the time with my daughter. We moved to New Jersey when she was three and stayed for seven years before moving back to France.

    Now, when I ask her what she did at school on any particular day she will answer "a lot of riding". So naturally I ask her if that was on a horse or a bicycle.

    This is typically what she terms "a dad joke", so she rolls her eyes like a proper Jersey Girl and tells me to stop.

    And @bks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Door_Cinema_Club
    "The new band's name was taken from Halliday's mispronunciation of the name of the local cinema, the Tudor Cinema"

  52. Coby Lubliner said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 9:18 am

    Levantine: regarding "beech rye" and "bee try", I don't think they sound alike. At least, they are articulated differently: the tongue touches the palate in higher position in the latter than in the former. (Some phonetics help from MYL would be appreciated.)

  53. Levantine said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 9:43 am

    Coby Lubliner, could it be that as a non-native speaker (unless I misunderstood you earlier), you differentiate your pronunciations in a way that most native speakers don't? Or perhaps you're right and there is a difference that native speakers like me simply can't hear.

    Still, I find it impossible to believe that theoretical 'chree' wouldn't sound (all but) identical to 'tree'. I'm unable to say the second without my mouth moving in exactly the same way (and producing the same sound) as the first.

  54. Robert Coren said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 9:44 am

    For me (US, grew up in New York City, lived in Boston area my whole adult life), "tooter" and "tutor" have a schwa in the (unstressed) second syllable, whereas "Tudor" has /ɔ/, with a bit of secondary stress. (Hence I was surprised that Pastis didn't make @bks's joke.) All have /tu/ for the first syllable.

    My mother, a life-long New Yorker, did engage in a bit of yod-adding uncharacteristic of local (or for that matter any US) speech. She certainly called the day after Monday /tjuzdɛɪ/ (as I often do as well), but she also added /j/ to "corduroy" and "Audubon", a habit it took me a long time to shed. (I think it was something of a joke that she called her friend Lucy /ljusi/.)

    Then again, she also said /ɑ/ in "rather", a habit I picked up and never lost. This earned me some mockery from my elementary-school classmates, who thought it an affectation; it may well have been one on my mother's part, but was not on mine.

  55. Levantine said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 10:13 am

    Thought of a pair that better illustrates my point: 'Patch Rick' and 'Patrick'. Do these sound at all different from one another?

  56. Terry Hunt said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 11:47 am

    @ Levantine

    "Chree" being identical to "tree" would imply "cherry" being close/identical to "Terry", which is certainly not the case in my BrE vicinity. I'd agree that chree/tree would be closer, but still distinct enough. (I have dim memories of "Chree" or "Ch'ree" being a character name in an SF Novel.)

  57. Levantine said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 12:20 pm

    Terry Hunt, it wouldn't imply that at all. Clearly one has to take account of the other letters in the word and their affect on prounciation; inserting a vowel between T and R removes the conditions that produce /tʃ/ in the first place. By your logic, the G in 'ringer' and 'reneger' should sound the same (yes, in some regional varieties they do, but for most of us, the G changes because of its environment).

    Can you honestly tell me that what you're hearing in the following pronunciation guides (both BrE and AmE) doesn't start with something that, if not a /tʃ/, is indistinguishable from it?


    (And note again that the audio really doesn't match the transcription.)

  58. BZ said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 12:22 pm

    Even though I've been in the US for 25 years (after living in Russia for 11), I still feel that I can't properly produce the "tr" and "dr" sounds. They always come out sounding too much like "ch" or "j" to the extent that I often roll the "r" in these instances as I would in Russian to indicated that the "r" is present in the word. However, I wonder how audible the "r" is in these instance from native speakers.

  59. Ellen K. said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 12:28 pm

    @Levantine: "Thought of a pair that better illustrates my point: 'Patch Rick' and 'Patrick'. Do these sound at all different from one another?"

    For me, the stress is distinctly different. I also sense perceive a difference in syllable break when saying them to myself, but I don't know if that would be noticeable to a listener or not.

  60. Levantine said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

    Ellen K., I'm not sure it's possible to find a pair where the stress is identical — that's the best I could come up with. But the -tch and tr-, at least, are the same for me: /tʃ/.

  61. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 4:59 pm

    @ Levantine –

    From listening to the first minute of that video (he seems a great guy btw), and skimming the next minute and a half, you are right the /tj/ situation is not as definitive as I claimed for quite plummy versions of the accent like his. He usually pronounces it [tj] in 'tutor', for instance, though as he starts talking quicker you get the affricate:

    0.25 [akt͡ʃuː] "actual"
    2.42 [t͡ʃᵻtorjʉz]

    In terms of the other features:

    Glottal stops

    0.01 – grapefrui'
    0.19 abou'
    0.26 tha'
    0.38 absolu'ly [apslʉːʔlɪj]
    0.48 abou'
    0.49 absolu'ly
    0.53 tha'
    0.56 qui'e
    0.57 ou'line

    Other lenitions of /t/

    0.23 [ðəɾɐjd͡ʒɛs] for "that I just"
    0.57 [wɐɾɐwu] "what I will"
    At 0.44 "sort of" the /t/ is elided completely, though it might be a slip.

    Vocalisation of final /l/

    0.25 [akt͡ʃuː] "actual"
    0.42 [puː] or [puw] = pull
    0.51 [wʉː] or [wᵻw] "will"
    0.59 [d͡ʒɛnro] or [d͡ʒɛnrəw] "general"
    I'm on my phone so I'm going to dispense with my half-arsed attempts to transcribe –
    1.04 exampoos
    1.19 & 1.20 rezoot "result" (but without glottal stop here)
    1.24 iwness "illness"
    1.28 & 1.30 skoow "school"
    1.42 potentiaw
    2.00 awso

    This feature, in various gradations between /w/-with-some-/l/-left, diphthongs and pure vowels, is pervasive, though at 0.45 he does have [-əl] in "logical".

    I didn't find "intrusive" /r/ in the first couple of minutes, but I don't think the relevant context arose. I would bet any money that he has it though.

  62. Levantine said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 5:12 pm

    Pflaumbaum, great work — thanks!

    Certain words ('actual' among them) have, I think, lost their yod for all but the oldest speakers of RP; I'm not sure if they form a cohesive group. ('Picture' is another, but that's been yodless for longer.)

    I agree that he would use intrusive R; even Prince William does. Glenda Jackson, playing Elizabeth I in the BBC series back in the '70s, used a kind of Shakespearean stage RP and actually rolled her intrusive Rs!

  63. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 5:24 pm

    A rolled intrusive /r/ – brilliant!

    I think Geoff Lindsey has the nu-RP accent spot on.

  64. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 5:47 pm

    Got one!


    "You will write to Parma-rr-and tell him…"

  65. Levantine said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 5:53 pm

    That may have been the very example I had in mind! The whole series is well worth watching if you haven't seen it already. Glenda Jackson is fabulous. I had no idea the whole thing was on YouTube.

  66. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

    Yep…I'm hooked by more than the phonetics now…

  67. Mark F. said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 8:48 pm

    The first thing I thought when I read that comic this morning in the paper (yes, I get a physical newspaper) was "Brits aren't going to get that." For me, all three words are exact homophones. Any way I would try to distinguish them sounds affected to me.

    Jodrell Bank observatory has a podcast called the Jodcast, and I enjoy listening to the accents. I've noticed that "meteor" and "media" are distinguished in both RP and General American, but in completely different ways. For Americans it's the terminal /r/, and for non-North American speakers it's the unflapped /t/.

  68. Levantine said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 9:13 pm

    Mark F., I'm a non-rhotic speaker who pronounces 'meteor' with an 'or' rather than a schwa for the last syllable, so the two are distinguished by more than just the unflapped T in my case. 'Meatier' and 'media' work, though.

  69. Mark F. said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 9:54 pm

    Ah – I guess I shouldn't throw around "RP" like I'm qualified to generalize. But it did sound like some Jodcasters had a schwa at the end.

  70. Jeff B. said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 11:31 pm

    When changing the light bulbs at my house, I can use either a ladder or a step stool, but I prefer the latter.

  71. Joyce Melton said,

    May 23, 2016 @ 11:42 pm

    I can often tell where someone grew up in California by asking them to count to five. People from the coastal counties north of Los Angeles frequently add a yod in their pronunciation of the number two. They also do it with too but not with to, usually. And the closer to San Francisco their school years were spent, the more likely they are to do it.

    My Arkansas relatives may put a yod in too but not in two or to.

    Inland and Southern California pronunciation is less likely to have this feature and frequently do not pronounce too with a yod either.

    All over the state, though, at you is usually pronounced like a sneeze.

  72. Levantine said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 4:59 am

    Mark F., I wouldn't dream of claiming mine to be the RP pronunciation. I suspect those posher than I tend to use the 'meatier' pronunciation, as it's the one given first in dictionaries.

  73. Guy said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 7:02 am

    @Joyce Melton

    Can you provide an audio example of the pronunciation you're thinking of and what you would consider a normal pronunciation? This isn't something I've noticed in SF Bay Area speech, even though I should be at ground zero by your account, so it must be a matter of realization of /u/ after /t/ rather than a matter of a phonemic /j/.

  74. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 7:50 am

    I was going to say Levantine was a major outlier here, if she does indeed pronounce 'meteor' with /ɔː{r}/. However, the very first video I looked at had that pronunciation from a BBC (well, Sky News) speaker:


    I'm very surprised.

    I suspect that for those of us with schwa in this position, aptly for the thread, it can contrast with 'meatier' in fast speech as something like [mɪjt͡ʃə{r}] v [mɪjtjə{r}].

  75. Levantine said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 7:56 am

    Levantine is a he, by the way. :)

    And yes, the newsreader's pronunciation sounds like mine.

  76. Pflaumbaum said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 8:03 am

    Sorry, not sure why you were marked for feminine in my lexicon.

    Out of interest, do you think you would turn that syllable into schwa in 'meteorite' / 'meteorologist'?

  77. Levantine said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 8:10 am

    Not to worry. I've mentioned my boyfriend in the past, so perhaps that's why.

    Yep, that syllable becomes a schwa for me in those words. There's also a reduction of it in the compound 'meteor shower'.

  78. Mark F. said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 10:16 am

    So "coupon" came up as an example of a word where Americans sometimes include the yod. But it seems to me that I use another pronunciation that I want to transcribe as "kewpon" as opposed to both "koopon" and to "kyupon", and in fact I imagine it to be common in the US. Am I deluding myself?

  79. Levantine said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 10:32 am

    Mark F., isn't that simply another way of transcribing the same thing? If by 'kew' you mean something that sounds the same as 'queue', then I think what you're trying to represent *is* a K followed by a yod.

  80. Ellen K. said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 5:13 pm

    I find it meaningless when someone uses "-ew" to indicate a pronunciation. I've no way to know what they mean by it. Including, with yod or without?

  81. Geoff Lindsey said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

    Since intrusive r's came up, there are many audio examples (including taps and trills), from the 1930s to the present day, here:
    My favourite is probably Francois/r/Hollande, from the BBC's Senior European Editor.

    So easy are they to find in old recordings that one wonders where the notion of 'non-intrusive RP' came from.

  82. Levantine said,

    May 24, 2016 @ 7:16 pm

    Geoff Lindsey, that's fascinating!

    I have heard *very* careful speakers who do seem to avoid intrusive R, so I guess such RP does exist. But yes, it seems it's more notional than real.

    I still remember when I first discovered the existence of intrusive R. At the age of 21, I was speaking to a group of Americans who burst into laughter when I said the words 'Madonna is' (we were talking about music). When I asked why, they told me I'd said 'Madonnar is'. I repeated what I'd said, and, sure enough, there was the R. It amazed me that I'd gone all my life never having heard this feature in my own or others' speech.

    I feel that pointing out how people actually pronounce 'tree' should produce the same happy sense of surprise, but based on reactions here (and having Googled the issue further), I find that many people incredulous and even offended to be told that they are using anything other than a pure T.

  83. Keith said,

    May 26, 2016 @ 2:55 am

    Mark F. said,
    The first thing I thought when I read that comic this morning in the paper (yes, I get a physical newspaper) was "Brits aren't going to get that."

    Almost all Brits would instantly understand the joke in its entirety.

    We grew up with American TV programs on British channels, aimed at both kids and adults.

    Through the 1970s and 1980s we had things like Space 1999, The A team, The Dukes of Hazard, Taxi, Hill Street Blues, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Cheers, Married With Children …

    It's been a long time since I last watched much British TV, but I'm fairly sure that 3rd Rock from the Sun, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad have all been shown (though maybe the last two were on subscription-only satellite or cable channels).

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