In a recent post about a different topic, Bill Walsh mentions some annoying vowel shifts exhibited by young-ish American females. These mainly involve changing the short e to the short u sound, so that “desk”, “test”, and “better” become “dusk”, “tust”, and “butter”, respectively. “Dad” also becomes “Dodd”. I’ve also noticed these and been annoyed by them. It’s kind of a California valley-girl accent creeping into all parts of the country in teenage girls and 20-something women, and now probably even women in their 30’s.
I tried to post a comment reporting my observation of another pair of vowel shifts that have annoyed me much more than those have, but his blag only allows posts from Google Blagger users, which I am not. (What kind of foolish isolationism is that? How many insightful comments and loyal frequent visitors has that practice precluded over the years at the blags that employ it? I’ve only ever seen it at Blagspot blags, but I know the owner has to choose to enable that restriction, so I can’t place the blame entirely on Google.)
Instead, I’ll post it to my own blag and reap the sweet, sweet internet karma it’ll bring me: The annoying vowel shift I’ve noticed that is unique to young-ish American females is pronouncing “thank you” as “think yo”. I guess the “yo” is actually more of a Minnesota/Midwestern type of “yoh”, but it’s not like it’s ever stressed or enunciated so strongly that it makes you think of Marge Gunderson. Maybe it’s just halfway between “you” and “yo”, and maybe the first word is more of a “thenk” than a “think”, but whatever it is with each individual girl, it’s annoying.
I haven’t noticed any prevalence of vowel shifts among American males, although a little bit of the valley accent certainly can be heard in some college guys’ (especially frat guys’) speech, as in “mahn” for “man”, “cuhl” for “cool”, etc. Sort of a surfer accent by guys who are trying too hard to sound casual and indifferent (or who have tried to sound casual and indifferent for so long that they no longer can tell any difference).
Maybe some nit-picky female linguists are equally as annoyed at males’ dropping of entire consonant sounds, as in “’anks” for “thanks”?