Date: Wed, 23 Feb 1994 08:09:08 -0600


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unpublished paper, found that about 10% of Houstonians pronounced the name of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.

We concluded:

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.