Q, R, S……U, V, W

The T is a maligned creature in the Scots dialect. While it is often heard at the beginning of a word it rarely finds the tip of the tongue any other time. It is trapped, swallowed in the back of the throat.

Photo becomes FO-oh; Waterloo is WAH-ur-loo.

There is no T. There remains instead its remnant, its heart: a glottal stop. It is a simple pause brought on by the flexing of the vocal muscle, effectively closing the throat, if only for a moment.

Honest Scots argue that the loss of T is a result of lazy speech, a blending of words and sounds that simply generate a blurred diction.

But which is easier: BUH-ur, or butter? SCAW or Scot? PĂ-ur or patter?

A tongue trained early to yield a gulp instead of a percussive prick might suggest that the former is BEH-ur; others, similarly trained to percuss the T would argue the LĂ-ur. A muscle used daily is more easily flexed than one lying DOR-muhn.

It’s dis-TINK-iv, this loss of T. Perhaps I should say the inclusion of the GLAW-uhl stop. T is not T the way others think of IH. IHs just the way Ihs done. NAW a problem for a SCAW. T slides BEH-ur when Ihs kept in the back of the THROH.

Still, I miss IH. I’m used to hearing IH. T sounds BEH-ur with a “sss” AH the end of IH.

Still and all, Ihs the AHK-sen that makes the language what IH is. T is NAW the enemy, Ihs an easy friend.


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