13 March 2012

Glottal Stopping Trending?

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, "The Way They Talk II," by Ben Yagoda, discusses glottal stopping. Yagoda describes the feature and explains what he perceives to be a new trend among students in New Jersey. I don't doubt that it might be new to his ears, but it's not a new feature, especially to speakers from parts of the Midwest, the dialect region that Carver (1987) labels as "Lower North." I am one of those speakers, hailing from central Ohio. For example, I pronounce mitten as [mɪʔən] (mih-en) and didn't as [dɪən] (dih-ent). So, I wonder if this is in fact a "new feature," and instead is a trending feature. I am guessing here (someone does need to follow this up with research!) but, it seems that the trend is a result of dialect contact between the East Coast varieties that Yagoda is hearing and Midwestern (Lower North) varieties, which are often perceived as more "standard" than East Coast varieties. As a result of this perceived prestige and standardness, coupled with the prestige of media personalities who have helped to spread the feature, glottalization is spreading. My anecdotal data and that reflected in the comments to Yagoda's article support the idea that glottalization is spreading from the Midwest and Manha-en to New Jersey.

Carver, Craig M.. 1987. American Regional Dialects: A Word Geography. Ann Arbor: U. of Michigan Press. 

1 comment:

SJ said...

I'm from Florida and this is common. I don't think this is particularly new though, considering that it was likely spread and picked up as a feature along with other California features in the mid80s-90s. Just watch clueless and Amber's use of a pronounced glottal in "whatever" as well as many other words through the film.