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Glottal Stops and Looking Down on Other Dialects

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Joan from Dallas, Texas, wants to know why some people are judgmental about people who speak with a glottal stop in such words as cattle, bottle, or even glottalitself. She noted a commenter on TikTok criticizing a Scottish woman for pronouncing water with a glottal stop, insisting that it’s ignorant, uneducated, and lazy. Joan says when her own mother attended a Brooklyn elementary school in the early 1930s, a speech teacher was brought in to force children like her not to speak with a glottal stop, lest they appear ignorant, uneducated, and lazy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this kind of pronunciation. It’s simply associated with dialects that, through the pure happenstance of history and politics, tend to lack prestige. This is part of a complete episode.

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