Date: Thu, 7 May 1998 17:21:23 -0400
From: Daniel Ezra Johnson
Subject: Re: your mail

On Thu, 7 May 1998, Larry Horn wrote:

> When THE is stressed (or, of course, when it precedes a vowel-initial
> word), it typically rhymes with 'bee'

I was struck the other month by a New Jersey speaker's strong reaction
against the pronunciation 'thee' before vowels. She uses 'thuh' in all
positions and even commented, "It's not spelled t-h-e-e".

In such phrases ('the apple', 'the only'), there must be some correlation
between schwa vs. 'ee', on the one hand, and the use of a semivowel --
some type of 'y' glide -- versus a glottal stop to begin the
'vowel-initial' word.