Date: Wed, 23 Feb 1994 08:09:08 -0600
From: PETER GINGISS PJGingiss[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UH.EDU
Subject: Re: [u]/[ju] in Houston
Rudy Troike asked whether people pronounced the name of Sam Houston and the
name of the city the same. Marianne Cooley and I, in a submitted but yet
unpublished paper, found that about 10% of Houstonians pronounced the name of
the city /yust[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n? and the rest /hyust[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n/. Cynthia Bernstein said at the time
that she and Guy Bailey found the same (10.66% for Houston, but they found some
"other" as well). My guess is that people would pronounce the name the same as
the city but it would be hard to test.
Rudy's suggestion that the loss of /h/ is part of a process is also what we
concluded. However,the /hy/ is much more complicated than the /hw/. It is much
less advanced, occurs in few words, relatively, and most of these are borrowed.
It seems unlikely that two or three individuals represent the start of a
major sound change, although one can surmise that /hj/ would be the final
"h cluster" to simplify. What is more probable here is that these
speakers generalized the /h/ deletion rule in learning the language
initially or more probably that this represents borrowing from speakers in
other areas, such as the East, in which this rule is more advanced.