Language Alert: dih’int, wuhd’int

That would be didn’t and wouldn’t. Where the contraction “n’t” traditionally silenced the sound of the vowel “o”, there is now a clearly audible “i” (or “e”).

And the ‘n’ is now much sharper and separate – try pronouncing the two versions yourself and pay attention to the lip formations that accompany the sounds. They’re quite different.

I started hearing this among high school girls – not boys, just girls (?) – about ten years ago. Then I began hearing it in young adults and now . . .

I have not heard it from people who have a southern accent (any ideas why?); it seems to occur among speakers of what used to be called “American Broadcast English” and those with New York/New Jersey accents.

7 responses to “Language Alert: dih’int, wuhd’int

  1. Oh dear. I can’t keep up with these changes. The other day my 20 year old son responded enthusiastically to something I offered him by saying “DANK”! “DANK”? I responded. “You mean you think my offer is cold and dark and mildewy like a basement?” He was baffled.

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  2. Certain American dialects have always had a “glottal stop” in those words, where the second syllable is kind of half-swallowed. Ditto for words like button, mountain, etc. I grew up in New England and most folks there had the glottal stop. Drove my mom (who was from Ohio originally) nuts when my brothers and I would do it, but I couldn’t NOT do it without sounding pretentious.

    I have noticed that recently white kids are sometimes leaving out the “d” leading into the second syllable. The “dih-int” of your title. I may half-swallow the second syllable, but it’s definitely “did” in the first syllable.

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    • Hi Crimson Wife, welcome. Another New Englander here – originally anyway. Glad someone else is hearing it – sometimes I fear I”m imagining these things and just becoming the “you kids get off my lawn!!!” lady.

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  3. If you ax me I think it is an attempt to have some street cred. But then, you didn’t ax me.

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  4. Sounds different but at least I understand words. Seems every generation invents a new language probably to drive the adults nuts cause we don’t know what the words mean.

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  5. The glottal stop is what I always though was “standard” pronunciation, but I learned to talk in the northern midwest. Anything else sounds affected to me. I’ll listen for this distinct “i” sound you describe.

    Something I started noticing decades ago, which I never heard as a kid, is pronoucing “ing” not as “in'” (casual), not as “ing” (trying hard to be distinct), but as “een”. This is from people who don’t seem to have any trouble with the “ng” sound in “hung” or “bong”, only with the “ing”.on the end of a verb.

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  6. I like articles about languages. I like the overall look of your blog as well. Languages are so important in today’s multicultural society.

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