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Th-stopping is the realization of the dental fricatives [θ, ð] as stops, which occurs in several dialects of English. In some accents, such as Hiberno-English, some varieties of Newfoundland English, some varieties of New York-New Jersey English, and Indian English, they are realized as the dental stops [t̪, d̪] and as such do not merge with the alveolar stops /t, d/. Thus pairs like tin/thin and den/then are not homophonous.[1] In other accents, such as Caribbean English, Nigerian English, and Liberian English, such pairs are merged.[1]

For some New Yorkers, the fricatives /θ/ and /ð/ are pronounced as affricatives or stops, rather than as fricatives. Usually they remain dental, so that the oppositions /t-θ/ and [d-ð] are not lost. Thus thanks may be pronounced [θæŋks], [tθæŋks] or [t̪æŋks] in decreasing order of statusfulness, all are distinct from tanks. The [t̪] variant has a weakish articulation. the /t-θ/ opposition may be lost, exceptionally in the environment of a following /r/ (making three homophonous with tree), and in the case of the word with, (so that with a may rhyme with the nonrhotic pronunciation of "bitter-bidder"; with you may be [wɪtʃu], following the same yod-coalescence rule as hit you. These pronunciation are all stigmatized.

The [d-ð] opposition seems to be lost more readily, though not as readily as the Brooklynese stereotype might lead one to believe. As in many other places, initial [ð] is subject to assimilation or deletion in a range of environments in relatively informal and/or popular speech, e.g. who's there [huz (z)ɛə]; as in many other places, it is also subject to stopping there /dɛə/. This option extends to one or two words in which the /ð/ is not initial, e.g. other, which can thus become a homonym of utter-udder. But it would not be usual for southern to be pronounced identically with sudden or breathe with breed.

In African American Vernacular English, in the words with and nothing, [t] may occur corresponding to standard [ð], thus [wɪt] for with and [ˈnʌtɪn] for nothing. (Wolfram 1969:83) Th-stopping is also reported for some other non-initial [θ]s, apparently particularly when preceded by a nasal and followed by a plosive, as keep your mout closed (Wolfram 1969:90). In initial position, [θ] occurs in AAVE just as in standard accents: thin is [θɪn], without the stopping of West Indian accents. (Wolfram 1969:130, does however mention the use of 'a lenis [t]' as a rare variant.) Stopping of initial [ð], however, is frequent making then homophonous with den.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b (Wells 1982: 565–66, 635)
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