Table of Contents:

The Realisation of (t)

The glottal stop realisation of (t) has been widely reported as one of the most vibrant changes in progress in the British Isles (Fabricius 2000; Schleef 2013; Britain 2012 inter alia). While the spreading form is entering into competition with the standard alveolar stop in varieties across the UK, the North East has a more complex system of variation around (t), including localised glottalised forms, a range of alveolar realisations (flaps, pre-aspirated stops, etc.) and T-to-R.2 Following Milroy et al. (1994) and Docherty et al. (1997), we conceptualised the observed variability in the realisation of (t) as three functional categories (see Table 8.1), which capture the alternation of local with incoming standard and non-standard forms.

Table 8.1 Realisation of (t) on Tyneside

• Globalised realisations [t?, ?t]

• Glottal stops [?]

• Alveolar realisations [t, flap, d, ht]

Previous analyses on Tyneside suggest that younger and middle-class speakers move away from the local glottalised variant towards forms with wider geographical remit (Milroy et al. 1994; Docherty et al. 1997). Since these studies also reveal that choices in the realisation of (t) are heavily contingent on the phonological context, we aimed to extract ten tokens per speaker in the first half and ten in the second half of the recording for each of the following environments:

  • • word internally (both pre-consonantal as well as pre-vocalic)
  • • word initially
  • • word finally (before following vowel, before following consonant, before pause)

We came close to our target of collecting equal numbers of tokens in these environments, extracting 1416 tokens overall and hand-coding them in PRAAT.

Following the literature on (t), our constraint-based analysis operationalises the following independent factors: the recording time (1971 versus 2013), the morpho-phonological context of the variable (e.g., word-initial, word-final pre-consonantal), the preceding segment, the following segment, the number of syllables of the word containing (t), the grammatical category of the word in which (t) occurred,3 and the frequency of the lexeme containing (t).


The rapid incursion of be like into the system of speech and thought reporting has been described for varieties of English around the world (Buchstaller and D’Arcy 2009 inter alia). When plotted in apparent-time, be like displays a profile typical of a change-in-progress, including rapidly falling frequencies with increasing age combined with a peak in the adolescent years (Tagliamonte and D’Arcy 2009). For the study reported here, all tokens of speech and thought reporting were extracted from the data and coded for the following constraints: the recording time (1971 versus 2013), the content of the quote (outwardly realised verbal action, such as speech, sounds, gesture, etc. versus inward mental activity, including thoughts, attitudes, or points of view), the grammatical person encoded in the speaker role, the tense marking of the speech verb, and the existence of mimetic re-enactment in the quote (see Buchstaller 2014, 2015).

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