It seems a generation is emerging among us that has removed the “t” from the middle of key words in our language.

“I am cer-en I lost a buh-en, my kih-en and my mih-ens while climbing a moun-en …”

I find it disturbing for two reasons: 1 – I make judgments about their education and their lack of care and 2 – it’s exhausting restraining myself from saying something.

Is this just my hang-up, or is it an annoyance shared by your readers?

A quick internet search revealed a technical term for this emerging habit: the glottal stop. The adjective “glottal,” by the way, is a reference to the glottis (gloh-is, I suppose), the opening between the vocal cords in the larynx. In a glottal stop, the glottis closes, then opens when the “t” comes just before an unstressed nasal syllable.

What’s to be done? I, of course, could stop judging or caring but it would feel as though I had given up on the language. I also could say something. How awkward! Instead, my choice is to simply advocate for the “t” and hope that parents and teachers whose titles (tih-els) include a “t” would coach their little (lih-el) ones to pronounce that hard working consonant that deserves to be heard.

Tony Payne


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