Magazine September 1, 2021, Issue

The Spread of the Glottal Stop

A woman talks via a mobile phone while walking along the avenue of Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, June 26, 2021. (Borja Suarez/Reuters)

Not long ago, I was on the telephone with a young man who said his last name was (let’s say) Hutton. But he didn’t say the name in a way I recognized. He said /HUH-uhn/. No hint of a /t/ in there anywhere. I had him spell it for me just to remove all doubt. It was a distinctly American accent, so I was curious about how he might have adopted this one Cockney/Scottish speech trait.

“Where are you?” I asked.

/Man-HA-uhn/, came the answer — again without even a scintilla of a /t/ sound.

Hmm. Mr. /HUH-uhn/ from /man-HA-uhn/.

Linguists call this speech

To Read the Full Story

This article appears as “Stop Those Glottals!” in the September 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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Bryan A. Garner — Mr. Garner is the author of The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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