Texas stopping?

The term stopping is most often used to refer to a feature of child phonology. Most children go through a phase, which can persist into the early school-age years, when sounds with an open articulation, usually fricatives, but also sometimes approximants, are replaced by homorganic or near-homorganic stops. A good example is the pronunciation ˈtɪdəd for adult scissors. The voicing of the target consonant is usually preserved.

I have known for a long time that stopping can also occur in adult speech, but have only just now started wondering how widespread it is. The two examples I have both come from speakers in Texas and they are isn’t pronounced as ˈɪdn and wasn’t pronounced as ˈwɑdn.

As I said, I don’t know if this is confined to Texas, or if it is more widespread in the USA, or if it occurs in other accents of English. Does anyone have information on this?

Update 2013_09_20 I have just come across this Youtube clip
The speaker is from Louisiana. At about 0:48 he says: “it dədnt have the same tenseness”.

16 thoughts on “Texas stopping?

  1. Sidney,

    Those two words are all that I can remember, but I didn’t get the impression that either of the speakers involved did odd things with fricatives generally.

    As for nasal congestion, that would affect the production of nasal stops, not of fricatives.

  2. The pronunciation you describe is familiar to me. I also associate it with Louisiana, and Mississippi, though unfortunately I haven’t travelled in the US South since before I studied phonetics.

  3. I’m able to comment on this with some “authority” because these forms have been present in my own speech ever since my childhood in Cardiff where they were completely ordinary usages. Latterly I tend to suppress them! Altho Wright’s 1905 English Dialect Grammar recorded ‘idn’ and ‘wadn’ only for Dorset, Somerset and Cornwall they were quite widespread, at any rate sporadicly, over much of western and southern England as these OED records at the entries for the verb ‘be’ show:
    U.S. regional (west.) 19– idn’t; … …
    Eng. regional 18– idden (south.), 18– idn’ (south.), 18– id’n (south.), 18– idn’d (south.), 18– idn’t (south.),… …
    edn’t (south.); U.S. regional (chiefly south.) 18– idn’t, 19– id’n, 19– id’nt;
    Eng. regional 18– arn’t, 19– adn’t (Yorks.)… …
    1949 Publ. Amer. Dial. Soc. xi. 7 Id’nt..Isn’t. Occasional. Not limited to the uneducated.
    1966 in Dict. Amer. Regional Eng. (1985) I. 179/2 Id’n..that sump’m?
    Eng. regional 18– wadden (south.), 18– waddn’ (south.), 18– wadd’n’t (south.), 18– wad’n (south.), 18– wadn’ (south.), … …
    woddent (south.), … … 19– wadn’t; U.S. regional 18– wuzn’t, 19– wad’n (south.), 19– wadn’t (chiefly south. and Midland)…

  4. Jack,

    That’s great! Thank you. Did you also have parallel forms for doesn’t, hasn’t/haven’t?

    In the E. Midlands the forms were (are?) ɪnt, wɒnt, dʊnt, ænt (=hasn’t/haven’t), although ɪnə, dʊnə, wɒnə, ænə were also used when I was a lad.


    Thanks for that.

  5. Eye John
    In erly-to-mid twentieth century Cardiff basilectal speech to which my idn and wodn belonged the forms “doesn’t, hasn’t/haven’t”, to the best of my recollection, didn feature. Instead we sed “doen, in>ain, abm/am”.

  6. DWhitecloud,

    Thanks. Yes, that pron. seems familiar, but it certainly doesn’t sound British.

    I have found another example from quite a long time ago. The name of the town of Rosedale in Mississippi occurs in a recording made in 1936/37 by the blues singer Robert Johnson. He pronounces the name ˈrɔʊddeːl

  7. But are placenames not subject to greater local transformation than much of the rest of our vocabulary ? An example that immediately springs to mind is Coleshill, on the outskirts of Birmingham, which in the local dialect is close to [Koʊzʊɫ] to my ears.

  8. But is it not also true that place-names are susceptible to the same sorts of phonological processes as other words? That is why I offered Rosedale as a possible example of the z → d change in Southern USA accents.

  9. Well, yes. I suppose the point I was seeking to make is that while placenames are susceptible to the same sorts of phonological processes as other words, the reverse is not necessarily the case, so we cannot be sure either in the case of Rosedale or of Coleshill whether the pronunciations heard and reported ([ˈrɔʊddeːl], [Koʊzʊɫ]) are the result of a phonological process affecting the language as a whole or of a phenomenon specific to placenames …

  10. I have heard people from the US south using glottal stops in words like “doesn’t” (mainly this word): [ˈdʌʔn̩t]

  11. Intrigued by JWL’s reference to “Cardiff basilectal speech”, and uncertain I was construing “basilectal” correctly, I consulted the OED for “basilect” and was told :

    “basilect, n.

    In a post-creole community, the social dialect that is most closely related to the creole and furthest removed from the standard language; also, the least prestigious or ‘lowest’ variety of any language. Cf. acrolect n., mesolect n.”

    However, of the three quotations cited, only one made any mention of post-creole communities, so I wondered whether those more familiar with the use of the word could comment on the OED’s definition thereof and specifically whether it can correctly be used when discussing communities other than those in a post-creole state of linguistic evolution ?

  12. Philip,

    See this entry in SID. The term may have originated in Creole linguistics, but it certainly gets used frequently in other areas of accent/dialect study.

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