A question for American English speakers from N.C. and S.C.


New Member
Korean/South Korea
This question I'm going to ask you guy may require a bit of understanding in phonetics. But I'll try to make it as simple as possible, so please at least take a look. All the notations in slashes and brakets are IPA except ch, j, sh, zh, th.

In American English, there is no longer a distinction between [yu] and after alveolar consonants like [t, d, n, s, z, ch, j, sh, zh, y]. So most Americans pronounce the vowels of new/nude, tune/two, dew/do the same.
But some people from the South still pronounce them differently. If YOU pronounce and hear them differently, then you can help me.

For those who make distinction between [yu] and after alveolar consonants, are the way you pronounce the vowels of cute and tune different? My guess is that your lips are already well pursed in expectation of the following when you pronounce the [ky] of cute, but not as much when pronouncing the [ty] of tune, the reason being trying to avoid sounding like choon instead of tune. And as a result, when you pronounce tune slowly and carefully you sound more like [ti] and [un] slurred together, not [tyun].

OK, so that was my guess. If your natural and non-self-conscious pronunciation of those words are in accordance with my guess, please tell me so, if not, please let me know how they are different. Hope it wasn't too hard to understand for non-phoneticians.
Much thanks in advance.
  • dwipper

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Apparently, there aren't people from the Carolinas here. Your hypothesis sounds like it could be correct to me, but I have no way to verify it.

    The only suggestion is to take a look at The Speech Accent Archive and see if you can find any recordings that could help you make further inferences. Unfortunately, there standard sentence doesn't isolate /u/ following alveolar consonants and there's only one recording from South Carolina. However, maybe there are other patterns in the south that you can use to make inferences.

    Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Just a note:

    I live on the west coast and I do make a distinction between new/nude, although not between the other pairs you cite. I don't think I am unusual in this.

    *I also pronounce cute and tune differently, but I am not capable of describing the sounds in the terms you lay out.


    New Member
    Korean/South Korea
    Thank you all for your reply. Those two links were really helpful and interesting.
    I'm still looking for someone who can tell me about his/her pronunciation.
    Thanks again for those who took the trouble to stop and leave a reply.
    < Previous | Next >