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    #1

    The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    I know that's a strange way to title a thread, but I will explain.

    There are many two-syllable words that end in “ton”, “tin” and “ten”. The last name of Hillary Clinton is a good example. If you wanted to be precise about pronouncing the word, you would draw out the pronunciation as “Clinton”, and it would sound like so:

    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1pnFy9737sv

    Nobody I know pronounces it so precisely, mainly because it would take too much time and effort to do so in normal conversation.

    So when I and most people I know pronounce her name, we tend to soften the “t” sound and follow it up with a drawn out “n”, as in “Clint-nnn”, and it sounds like so:

    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1wnzxhxhRo3

    But lately—I’d say in the past few years—I have noticed a trend towards pronouncing such words in a different way, one that basically drops the “t” sound entirely and really emphasizes that second syllable, almost disconnecting it entirely from the first syllable, as though it were a separate word. It might be rendered in writing as “Clin’ ihn”, and it sounds like this:

    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1P5rkPxNuCe

    Again, this is something I’ve really noticed only in the past few years, and just about everybody I’ve heard pronounce it this way is under 35 years of age. I watch a lot of MLB network, and two of the studio hosts, Scott Braun and Heidi Watney, pronounce such words like this, as when they refer to Giancarlo Stanton, for instance. It’s irritating as heck, and it makes me want to punch Braun in his stupid monkey face when I hear him do it. (I would never punch Heidi Watney in her gorgeous face, though.)

    Now, I refer to this phenomenon as “frontalizing” because that, to my ear, seems to be what’s happening with the syllable. When you say it the second way, as in “Clint-nnn”, the second syllable seems to be coming from the back of the mouth, almost as an n-sounding hum. (Or “hunnnn”, if you prefer.) But when you pronounce it that third way, as in “Clin’ ihn”, the sound seems to be coming from the front of the mouth, and it sounds like the speaker is actually trying to force the sound to the front of the mouth so he can make it sound distinct and separate. Maybe that’s why I don’t like it—it sounds forced, and as such, like an affectation.

    Here’s one more example, from a recent Samsung commercial using a pop song recording of the song “My Favorite Things”. You can hear the affectation in the first six seconds when she sings “kittens” and “mittens”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmT0WGVjT4M

    And when the commercial comes on, I can’t reach for the mute button fast enough for my tastes. But the kids must like it.

    Anyway, all this is the long way around to asking: is anybody else noticing the trend in pronouncing two-syllable words ending in “t*n” in this way? Where did it come from and when did it start? Or has it always been around and I just haven’t noticed? It is a regional thing, or is it a generational thing?
    Last edited by chasfh; 29-Oct-2015 at 16:56.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    I can speak only for British English
    Quote Originally Posted by chasfh View Post
    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1pnFy9737sv

    Nobody I know pronounces it so precisely, mainly because it would take too much time and effort to do so in normal conversation.
    Many people I know do pronounce it like that.
    That has always been common in some dialects of BrE, and has become more common with the spread of Estuary English.

    But lately—I’d say in the past few years—I have noticed a trend towards pronouncing such words in a different way, one that basically drops the “t” sound entirely and really emphasizes that second syllable, almost disconnecting it entirely from the first syllable, as though it were a separate word. It might be rendered in writing as “Clin’ ihn”, and it sounds like this:

    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1P5rkPxNuCe

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmT0WGVjT4M [...]
    It is a regional thing, or is it a generational thing?
    I would say that it is partly regional (southern rather than northern), partly generational (i think it's far more common among younger people) and partly ethnic (more common in black communities).

    I must stress that these are my impressions, not the result of any scientific research

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    #3

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    In the UK, it is spreading beyond the original regions where it was common like London.

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    #4

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    Hey, I had an original post here and now it has disappeared? How come? Is that a bug in the site, or did someone consciously remove it?

    EDIT: it says in the bar to the left that I have two posts, but when you look up all my posts, only this post shows up.

  4. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    I saw your original post - I responded to it! Perhaps one of the mods can tell us what happened to it.

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    #6

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    It should be back now. I can't explain why it should have disappeared.

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    It's back. Thanks.

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    #8

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I can speak only for British English

    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1pnFy9737sv

    Many people I know do pronounce it like that.
    Maybe prim, proper, stuffy English people pronounce it like that, but no red-blooded American I know does!


    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post

    http://vocaroo.com/i/s1wnzxhxhRo3

    That has always been common in some dialects of BrE, and has become more common with the spread of Estuary English
    Interesting. I didn't realize there's some sort of recognized divide between people who say "clin-ton" and those who say "clint-nnn" in the UK.

    By the way, I could listen to Ricky Gervais (the example in the Estuary English WP article) talk all day long. One of my favorite English accents.


    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    I would say that it is partly regional (southern rather than northern), partly generational (i think it's far more common among younger people) and partly ethnic (more common in black communities).
    Now this is interesting, and may be sufficiently explanatory (recognizing that you're postulating off-the-cuff here). I don't know that black people here say "clin 'ihn" going way back. Maybe they do, and have, and I simply never noticed. I did not grow up around black people in my Detroit suburb (although I live in a multicultural stew in the city of Chicago now), so that may have been one of those pronunciation differences I simply failed to recognize when I was younger.

    But if the white kids (like Scott Braun and Heidi Watney) are picking up on that trait from the black kids, then that would just be a continuation of a long line of cultural artifacts that white kids have adopted from black culture ever since at least the beginning of the 20th Century, when ragtime became all the rage. That might help explain the generational divide. And now I feel like a doddering old white man railing against it!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails oh_noes_cat_plz_by_ohnoescatplz-d5crycw.jpg  
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 29-Oct-2015 at 21:14.

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    #9

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    Quote Originally Posted by chasfh View Post
    Interesting. I didn't realize there's some sort of recognized divide between people who say "clin-ton" and those who say "clint-nnn" in the UK.
    Tony Blair's accent changed according to his audience- when he was speaking in America, he would sound more like a prim, proper and stuffy Brit, but back home, when he was trying to be a man of the people, he would drop his /t/ and use more Estuary forms.

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    #10

    Re: The Trend Towards "Frontalizing" the Second Syllable That Ends in "t*n"

    Quote Originally Posted by chasfh View Post
    Hey, I had an original post here and now it has disappeared? How come? Is that a bug in the site, or did someone consciously remove it?
    The first post someone has to make needs to be approved by a moderator before it appears. Also, until you have posted ten times, any post that contains links will also have to go through the same tedious process. If we lived in a world without spammers and advertisers, this wouldn't be necessary. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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