idn't/wadn't (isn't/wasn't)

merquiades

Senior Member
English (USA Northeast)
Hello everybody. I'm interested in knowing the geographic distribution of the pronunciation "idn't/ wadn't" for "isn't/ wasn't", also the connotations you associate with it and perhaps the origins of this habit if anyone knows it.

On internet the only thing I have found is that it is a common mispronunciation (doubtful and too easy considering replacing /s/ with /d/ is not necessarily natural) and that it is Texan (I doubt that somewhat because I know the pronunciation from outside that area).

In the Northeast United States it seems to me it is used to be cute (maybe ironic).
Aw. Look at that little baby. Idn't he cute?
Someone drank all that beer. Wadn't me.

So what is your experience with it? Is it heard outside the US?
Thanks for your impressions
 
  • DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Is it heard outside the US?
    Well, it's definitely not heard in Pembrokeshire, and I doubt if you'd find it anywhere else in the UK. I think you're correct in surmising that it's a "humorous" (i.e. cringeworthy) attempt by adults to imitate the speech habits of children, along the lines of "I tawt I taw a puddy-tat".
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, it's definitely not heard in Pembrokeshire, and I doubt if you'd find it anywhere else in the UK.
    Interesting ~ I'd have thought it was quite widespread....

    I know I say it myself, in casual speech:).
     

    DocPenfro

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Interesting ~ I'd have thought it was quite widespread....
    Pembrokeshire is the land that time forgot. It might get here eventually but first it's got to make its way through the impenetrable barrier of Welsh-speaking Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire. I'm not sure that I've ever habitually said "isn't" in conversation. I started off with "ain't" in the Black Country, then exposed myself to three decades of "int" in north-east Lancashire.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I've been reflecting on my previous comment - I think that, in practice, I associate this pronunciation primarily with the south-west of England. And I grew up in Somerset....
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Ah, ewie: it seems you are unacquainted with such oeuvres as 1831: Charlotte Treleaven Comes of Age by Patricia R. Olds (a romance set in Cornwall). I quote:

    Morley's voice sounded again.
    "You got to, boy. Tidn't no good. Tidn't right, what you'm doin',"
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Thanks a lot everyone. Now that I think about it, it does sound a bit like babytalk, a way to soften the tone a bit.

    Interesting that it is common in southwest England. I wonder if immigration is how it might have reached the American south.
     

    Ironicus

    Senior Member
    English & Swahili - East Africa
    This is accepted pronunciation in the South of the US, and not just in the examples given but anywhere a /z/ comes before a 'n'. So: "takin' care a bidnes" is good Southron for "taking care of business" (and God only knows how "business" came to be pronounced the way it is).
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    This is accepted pronunciation in the South of the US, and not just in the examples given but anywhere a /z/ comes before a 'n'. So: "takin' care a bidnes" is good Southron for "taking care of business" (and God only knows how "business" came to be pronounced the way it is).
    Really? Replacing /z/ systematically with /d/ sounds... strange. I've never heard "bidness", sounds even harder to pronounce.
     

    JustKate

    Moderate Mod
    Nah, "bidness" isn't hard to pronounce, but then, I have a lot of relatives in Texas, so maybe I'm not typical. I don't hear it around here, but I definitely hear it in Texas and surrounding parts, where it sounds pretty much like it's spelled, with a short "i" and a short "e": BIDness. I can't say that I ever noticed any geographic pattern to idn't and wadn't, but that doesn't mean there isn't one.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Just for the sake of completeness: I don't think /d/-for-/z/ in south-west England extends beyond "isn't"/"wasn't". I might be wrong, but I'm pretty sure I've never heard - and I'm 100% certain I don't say:) - "business" with a /d/.
     

    Wildcat1

    Senior Member
    Amer. English
    Really? Replacing /z/ systematically with /d/ sounds... strange.
    I don't think it's all /z/ - the examples I can think of involve /z/ before /n/.
    I've never heard "bidness", sounds even harder to pronounce.
    Nah, "bidness" isn't hard to pronounce,
    I agree... compare "midnight" and "kidney". (I think it's all what you get used to - if someone said "miznight" you'd probably think that would be harder to pronounce.)

    I've heard southern-state members of Congress use this /d/ for /z/ in words like "isn't" in TV interviews, so it's achieved some degree of respectability.:)
    It's definitely a regional usage in the US.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I don't think it's all /z/ - the examples I can think of involve /z/ before /n/.


    I agree... compare "midnight" and "kidney". (I think it's all what you get used to - if someone said "miznight" you'd probably think that would be harder to pronounce.)

    I've heard southern-state members of Congress use this /d/ for /z/ in words like "isn't" in TV interviews, so it's achieved some degree of respectability.:)
    It's definitely a regional usage in the US.
    That's what I met: all /z/ before /n/. I suppose it's a matter of getting used to. When I opened the thread I didn't imagine the /z/ to /d/ before /n/ was a sweeping change, more than just "idn't" "wadn't"

    I'm wondering if it has become so commonplace in Texas, it has no connotation anymore. It's just considered normal speech.

    @Just Kate. Obviously in Indiana it's not used so no connotation or context comes to mind.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Where I live isn't often rhymes with didn't, and wasn't, doesn't, and even hasn't often have that same "dn" combination. It can be confusing is when hasn't sounds just like hadn't, but that does not stop us from saying it that way in rapid speech.

    What disturbs me though is dittn't, ittn't, dittn't, and wattn't (a voiceless unreleased t instead of a voiced z or d).

    I have heard "bidness" too, but I associate that with people who say "have came" and "had swam".
     

    Ultrasound7

    New Member
    English
    Hello everybody. I'm interested in knowing the geographic distribution of the pronunciation "idn't/ wadn't" for "isn't/ wasn't", also the connotations you associate with it and perhaps the origins of this habit if anyone knows it.

    On internet the only thing I have found is that it is a common mispronunciation (doubtful and too easy considering replacing /s/ with /d/ is not necessarily natural) and that it is Texan (I doubt that somewhat because I know the pronunciation from outside that area).

    In the Northeast United States it seems to me it is used to be cute (maybe ironic).
    Aw. Look at that little baby. Idn't he cute?
    Someone drank all that beer. Wadn't me.

    So what is your experience with it? Is it heard outside the US?
    Thanks for your impressions
    Yes! I know of a personal and sad connection I had , stress the word ‘had’ with an accountant and holder of a law degree from a university , who blatantly pronounced the words and contraction for was not and is not as “ WADNT and sometimes on occasion IDNT as well as very strangely , would laugh vey boldly, sarcastically in public in restaurants and film theatres and even in places of business, when someone asked his place of origin. He then proudly proclaimed a bizarre little town in Southen Texas as his place of birth . He also mispronounced , as when we in the United States or anywhere in the world, the word “ I’ve “ or “ I’m “ as to say I’m going to... or I’ve been to . No he said boldly this “ I’s gonna go to ... “. He is now in his 50’s . Hope that is some use .
     

    lemerick

    New Member
    English
    I just found this thread after a Google search and wanted to chime in since I noticed myself pronouncing wasn't as /wʌdn̩t/ in casual speech and began to wonder where it came from. I lived in Baton Rouge, LA until I was about 12 years old and I also have extended family that lives in Southern Louisiana so I suspect this is where I picked it up. This also extends to my pronunciation of isn't as /ɪdnt/, but not /ˈbɪd.nəs/.

    For reference, I'm a 39 yo white male.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Welcome to WRF lemerick,

    There's a good webpage, "The Voice of The South", on the subject of the Southern US English accent at Phonology - The Voice of the South - I'm sure you'll recognise yourself there. :)

    The OP's topic is mentioned with an interesting addition - it seems that when understanding is essential, the accent can go...

    • /z/ becomes [d] before /n/, for example [wʌdn̩t] wasn't, [bɪdnɪs] business,[11] but hasn't is sometimes still pronounced [hæzənt] because there already exists a word hadn't pronounced [hædənt].
     

    hwit

    Member
    English - US (AL)
    Replacing z with d in hasn’t/wasn’t/doesn’t/isn’t is pretty common throughout the southern U.S. I have personally never heard business pronounced with a d though, which makes me think it has more to do with the sequence of phonemes /znt/ and not /zn/ alone. I am sure some folks pronounce business with a d but it seems far less common than the other words.
     
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