Uvular nasal tap???

I think that this Linguist List post (copied below, just in case) deserves some attention from some phonoloblog reader …

Message 1: Uvular Nasal Tap for /l/

Date: 24-Jan-2006

From: Karen Chung

Subject: Uvular Nasal Tap for /l/

I just watched a video interview by Bill Maher with author Stephen King on Amazon’s new ”Fishbowl” program (http://www.amazon.com/), and was surprised to hear King use a uvular nasal tap for some of his /l/ sounds. I call it a tap because you can hear a kind of clicking saliva sound as the back of the tongue quickly pulls away from the uvula. At first I thought it was a problem with the file or transmission, but it occurs many times, though there are also many ”normal” /l/s.

The following are examples of where the uvular nasal tap /l/ appears. Almost all are prevocalic clear /l/s, though at least one appears in the dark /l/ position, i.e. _all_, though this could be because of linking to _himself_ with a dropped /h/. Some could be dark or clear /l/, as in _persona*l*ity_ :

”You’re *l*ike, well, what can I do, you know?”

”But, you know, I ran into a *l*ady in the supermarket one time…”

”Not *l*iterally, no.”

”I don’t read any of your stuff because I don’t *l*ike to be scared.”

”And she said, ‘No, I *l*iked that, you didn’t write that.”’

”I had _Pet Cemetery_ in the drawer for a *l*ong while…”

”I wrote him a *l*etter…”

”*L*ook, I burn my own CDs…”

”When you *l*ook into the abyss, the abyss *l*ooks back into you.”

”One of the things that we’ve *l*earned…”

”When you’re *l*istening to the Net…”

”a *l*ot of people *l*istening”

”I think George is *l*istening to you and your dea*l*er…”

”…don’t come out of a real happy persona*l*ity…”

”…that had told (normal dark /l/ in ”told”) these *l*ies”

”…he’s doing this a*ll* himself (normal dark /l/ in ”himself”)

”alcoho*l*ics and drugs addicts *l*ie…”

”they *l*ie for practice,…he’ll *l*ie about the time just to keep in practice…”

”It didn’t surprise me that he was *l*ying…”

”Oprah would kinda *l*ike…”

”Once you find out an alcoholic’s *l*ied about one thing…”

”…probably a *l*ot of it’s *l*ies.”

Most but not all of the ”normal” /l/s I heard are dark /l/s:

”Oh, Bi*ll* Maher, be funny!”

”They say, ‘Are you rea*ll*y a scary guy?’…”

”Sure, I’ve got the heart of a sma*ll* boy, I keep it in a jar on my desk.”

”I did this thing ca*ll*ed, ah, _The Shawshank Redemption_…”

”There rea*ll*y aren’t.”

”…too horrib*l*e…”

”I pub*l*ished it, and it was a huge success.”

”See, *l*isten to them.”

”They ca*ll*ed me a technophobe.”

”I’m on the first program of ‘Fishbow*l*…”

”When you open your ce*ll*phone and make a ca*ll*…”

”Not that you HAVE a dea*l*er…”

”Strict*l*y for medicina*l* purposes.”

”Oh, be*l*ieve me…”

”She be*l*ieved it.”

”Most of the fee*l*ing of it was rea*l*…”

”Any kind of art comes out of a conf*l*icted (”personality”, with uvular nasal /l/)”

Has anybody run into anything like this before? Or this is a very personal quirk of Stephen King? I’d be interested in hearing what others think about this.

Karen Chung



Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics


3 thoughts on “Uvular nasal tap???

  1. Bob Kennedy

    I listened to some of the segment and heard what she’s talking about – some sort of quick tap and release during light /l/. It sounds like a secondary constriction, and could be velar or uvular. My guess is that whatever he does with his tongue blade to make a light /l/ ends up displacing the dorsum rearward (because of hydrostasis; i.e. water-ballooning) This may happen with other speakers’ /l/ but most people get no contact out of it. As for its nasality, I couldn’t hear any.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *