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Re: [x] in English?

From:Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>
Date:Friday, October 1, 1999, 6:02
At 7:27 pm -0400 30/9/99, Nik Taylor wrote:
>Daniel Andreasson wrote: >> Some people there (I've heard at least >> three people use it) use a voiceless >> velar fricative [x] instead of the stop [k] in >> word final positions. >> One example is the word 'back' which is pronounced >> [b&x]. > >Are you sure it's not [b&kx]? Because I know some dialects use >affricates for stops in syllable-final position.
Yep - it's typical of Liverpudlian English, generally known as Scouse. Final voiceless stops have a homorganic fricative off glide so that, e.g. 'book' is [bu:kx] and often sounds practically like German 'Buch'. When, however, a final -s is added, the fricative off-glide disappears so that 'books' is [bu:ks]. One of my colleagues is a Scouser, so I this quite a bit. But I'm puzzled by the vowel in Daniel's example. In Liverpool, as generally in the north of England, people normally have [a] as "short a"; [&] is very much a southern phenomenon, but I can't think of any southern dialects that pronounce final /k/ as [x] or [kx]. ------------------------------------------------------------ At 6:36 pm -0500 30/9/99, Thomas R. Wier wrote:
>Daniel Andreasson wrote: > >> One example is the word 'back' which is pronounced >> [b&x]. What's that? Is it some Gaelic influence >> on northern English dialects or what? Although it >> sounds pretty cool IMO. > >I think you can ask Ray on that one -- he lives in Britain, >and has lots of personal experience of all (most?) of the >varieties of British dialects.
I doubt all - there are so many local varieties and some areas, like the lowlands of Scotland, seem to pack in as many local varieties as possible.
>My first comment would be that it seems like a fairly >easily understood sound change: when in final position, >[k] becomes [x]. I think Ray mentioned something a while >back about a dialect that changes all final [t] to the affricate >[ts], so that "cat" sounds like "cats" in both the singular and >the plural.
Ah - memory often plays us false :) I wrote in contradicting that. It's the Scouse dialect again. One does read in some authorities that Scousers do that. But all the Scousers I've encountered do _not_ pronouns 'cat' and 'cats' the same way. The latter is pronounced much as we southerners pronounce it, except that they have [kats] and we have [k&ts]. But the singular has a homorganic off-glide after the final -t, which is not [s] but closer tho not identical with [T]. This pronunciation undoubtbly developed from simple aspiration of final voiceless stops; such stops are, e.g. strongly aspirated, as are initial voiceless stops, in Welsh. It may well be that this contributed towards the Scouse phenomenon. But the aspiration of voiceless stops is common enough in English of all varieties in initial position & not unknown in final position in many dialects; this is known IIRC in many Germanic varieties; indeed, I guess the shift of voiceless stops to affricates and/or fricatives in the high German dialects began in a similar way. So I don't think we need look to Celtic influence. Ray.