Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 19:13:25 -0500
From: "Donald M. Lance" engdl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU
Subject: mb..., nd..., ngg...
I was hoping that the posting of a graduate student at Georgetown regarding
[mboi] 'boy' etc. would yield more fruit than the puny little peach that I
threw in. I've been thinking more about the phenomenon, even playing
around with pronunciations.
I pointed out that pre-phonation in words like 'boat' or 'bone' would be a
phonetically nasal, though I didn't say it quite that way. In order for
the pre-phonation to occur with much strength, the velic must be open (oral
cavity is closed for [b]) to allow a pressure differential across the vocal
folds that would enable phonation. If the velic doesn't close during the
closure for [b], stopness is compromised -- as the student said, "[M]any of
my /b/ and /d/'s are not stops at all." She's quite right (I no longer
have her name in my files but think I remember that the querier was
female). In the case of 'boat' the velic may not close until articulation
of the [o] is under way, and in 'bone' nasal resonance may accompany the
entire word. Similar observations may be made regarding 'dote' and 'goat'.
Apparently the querier felt that the consonant retained a sufficient amount
of the features of a voiced-stop gesture that kept her from speculating
that the stop had "become" a nasal. When I play around with these
pronunciations, the stop does not "turn into" a nasal.
I have noticed the phenomenon, but never associated it with regional or
ethnic lects. I doubt that it is of Afro-Caribbean origin, as she
speculated -- "If anyone knows anything about this feature in WSE, AAVE,
Creoles, or West African languages,..." It doesn't seem to me to be the
same (or even similar) phonomenon as we see/hear in Swahili 'ndizi'
"banana" or Kikongo 'nzadi' (old name of the Congo River). Such an origin
would very likely have had to originate in the retention or
"misunderstanding" of the prefixes represented by these unEnglish
Any other observations? This was a question about dialect. We've heard
complaints about postings that aren't about dialect.