Saturday, 20 July 2013

/æn/ as a weakform

In his blog no. 403 Jack Windsor Lewis rightly points to the fact that one of the various weakforms of the conjunction 'and' is /æn/ - a variant not mentioned in any of the 'Big Three'. I stumbled across a sound sample yesterday which I'd like to put online as a kind of corroboration. There's a series broadcast by BBC IV called 'Some Vicars with Jokes" in which vicars, priests etc. around the UK crack their favourite jokes. In one of these broadcasts a vicar tells a joke about a minister delivering his final prayer. In this account there are two sentences beginning with 'and' a pause before them:
  1. And he said with his arms stretched to heaven ... /æn i sed/
  2. And he was stopped in his tracks ... /æn i wəs stɒpt/
Here are the sound tracks:
credit: BBC IV

My thanks go to BBC IV and Rev. Andy Kelso.


  1. Ooooh! That was too tempting:

    And he was \stopped...
    'Annie was \stopped...

    But I guess that we could also have 'And he was \stopped...

    And conversely, with no accent before the nucleus:

    And he said... \No!
    Annie said... \No!

  2. Not RP, so are they interested? In any case, there are practical issues limiting dictionary entries, reflecting publishers' intentions etc., so this could be low priority.

    As I mentioned the other day for "can", there's a continuum of reduction from ænd to n, that you can break down arbitrarily.

  3. Sidney, I have my doubts as regards the arbitrariness in breaking down the continuum of 'and'-pronunciations. I don't think /æ/ would be a possible reduced form or would it?

    1. Petr, from the strongest [ænd] to the weakest [n] bypasses [æ]. But I'm sure someone'll turn up a nasalized schwa.

  4. Sidney
    What d'you mean by 1." Not RP" ? and 2. "they" ?
    Are you suggesting that such a meticulous record of the facts as the Wells LPD wd deliberately omit the item in question to save space?
    The suggestion being made in the blog quoted is that the variant in question is commonly heard.

    1. Sorry Jack, my comment was far too elliptic. I was thinking back to a similar topic on another recent blogpost by Kraut (12/7), where I'd written: "As to dictionaries, some have the expressed goal of recording RP, and would only include condoned reductions". I should've made that connection explicit.

      So, "Not RP", which referred to the sound clip quoted by Kraut, where I don't hear the accent as RP. If this isn't RP, then I wouldn't expect any dictionary that targeted only RP to want to include any variant pronunciations. "They" referred to such dictionaries.

      Then you ask if I'm suggesting John Wells would omit an item to save space. I don't see how this specific question arises. Are you thinking of my general comment "In any case, there are practical issues limiting dictionary entries, reflecting publishers' intentions etc., so this could be low priority", where space constraints weren't explicitly listed, but might be construed. I couldnt possibly speculate about how any particular compiler and editor might work together, or how any particular publisher might impose space constraints on them, or get them resolved in any particular instance. What I do know about John Wells' working methods comes from what he shared occasionally on his blog, and that I commented in Kraut's blogpost of 12/7: "Readers of John Wells' blog will recall his recurrent topic 'is it time now to include variant X in the dictionary', and sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't". A queried variant might have been common in other accents, but John Wells was usually concerned whether it was sufficiently common in RP before amending the dictionary.

      However, I see a further reason for not including every variant of 'and' etc in dictionaries, implied in my concluding comment: "there's a continuum of reduction from ænd to n, that you can break down arbitrarily". That means we're approaching infinity, and no dictionary can be infinitely large. There's a similar topic on Language Blog,, regarding the first syllable of 'McDonald's'.

      I don't dispute the existence of [æn]. I've used it all my life. Living abroad, I rarely hear any RP and have no idea if [æn] was/is/has become common among RP speakers, or whether it matters if it has. It does seem to matter for some dictionary publishers.

    2. Looking at it now, that last line should've read "... or whether it matters if it hasn't ..."

  5. This is presumably the same rev. with his everyday voice:

    And these reveal different sides of the same: