young, long, and strong

I discovered recently that I pronounce young, long and strong with a final [g]. I seem to do it phrase-finally and before a following vowel initial word. It seems to be optional, but I have a clear intuition that this pronunciation is OK with these words, and not with any other engma-final words. What these have in common is that they are the adjectives that take comparative /-er/.

I found this out because my girlfriend made fun of me for pronouncing the final [g]. I didn’t believe her at first, because I know English phonology isn’t supposed to work this way, but then I caught myself doing it. I was pretty pleased when I finally figured out the generalization – it’s kind of interesting that the derived form is determining the form of the base.

So, I’m wondering whether this is my own innovation, or whether anyone has heard of anything like this. I haven’t had a chance to quiz my family and hometown friends yet…

7 thoughts on “young, long, and strong

  1. Eric Bakovic

    I have a friend who says things like “hanging out” with both [g]’s … hadn’t thought to do more than poke fun at her for it until now. Too bad she’s now left town; I’ll have to wait for a visit to figure out if there’s a generalization to be made.

  2. Joe Pater

    I can’t put a [g] on wrong, as far as I can tell through introspection. This is a nice example Adam – I assume you were probing whether this happens to adjectives in general, or just ones that get comparative /-er/ (and strangely, when I force myself to make a comparative with wrong, it doesn’t get the [g] – I suppose that’s true for everyone).

    And as far as Long Island goes, I’m not sure if they (or Montrealers with whom I’ve had a lot more contact) get the [g] phrase-finally. I get them medially much less often than in these dialects – only with these words. I say “hanging out” perfectly normally!

  3. Adam Ussishkin

    This is very amusing, as in the phonetics section of one of my intro to linguistics courses last week we began discussing English consonants and whether any have particular distributional restrictions. One student – who I really had a hard time believing until she demonstrated for all of us – swore that at the end of the word ‘song’ she pronounces a final angma. Now, this word is not an adjective, so there’s no -er comparative for it, but she does indeed have an angma at the end of it.

  4. Adam Ussishkin

    Pardon my typo/error (see my previous comment) – rather than an angma at the end of ‘song’, this student pronounces a [g]. Sorry ’bout that – jet lagged from a recent trip is the only excuse I can offer…

  5. Martin Barry

    Final [g] after [ŋ] is normal for some accents of British English: it’s found in the West Midlands and North West of England (e.g. in Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool). Do any of your speakers who do this have a British connection?

    The consequence of the preservation of the final [g] is that there’s no /ŋ/ phoneme in these accents – [ŋ] is an allophone of /n/ found before velar stops.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.