Now that I’ve gotten myself on the topic of glottal stop management, it brings me to a point I would like to make about the Connecticut accent and how it affects singers.
My First Job in Connecticut
I grew up in the South and moved to Connecticut in the fall of 1982 after graduating from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. We won’t talk about why I moved here or why I could only get a job as a waitress at that time. We will just talk about my first day on the job as a breakfast waitress at The Colony Inn on Chapel Street.
I was getting training from a beautiful, nicely-dressed, well-spoken woman in her mid-forties on how to make espresso. Everything was going smoothly until she said, “You’ll need to press this buh-en first, and then this buh-en…” and so on, I thought to myself, “SERIOUSLY? That’s how they say “button” in Connecticut? I don’t know if I can live here.”
Dead Giveaway That You’re From Connecticut
We could go on and on about accents and how they come across and make first impressions, but I want to address an ongoing pet peeve I have with the Connecticut accent in particular. People from Connecticut will always respond, “But I thought Connecticut had no accent!” Well, some people do and some people don’t so much, but there is one dead giveaway:
- The use of a glottal stop instead of a “t” sound before the consonant “n” and “m”
The Glottal Stop “T”
When you’re talking, it’s not so much of an issue, but when you’re singing, it’s really a glaring. Here are three words that Connecticut people say differently from most other regions:
It happens with other words too, but it is most noticeable when the “t” sound is being followed by an “n” or “m” sound.
There’s no way to really spell these words in a way that you could pronounce them, but they’re more like:
The distinguishing characteristic is that the tip of the tongue never reaches the top of the mouth in order to execute the “t” sound.
I will say them here in the manner of someone who is known to have a thicker Connecticut accent than most.
As soon as I point that out to someone, their immediate reaction is to become OVERLY emphatic about the “t” and say:
This sounds ridiculous and is not what I would hope for in a correction. I will demonstrate the ridiculousness here for you:
How to Fix It
Unfortunately, though, what I would hope for in a correction is not easily executed by people who have grown up with this accent. And perhaps there are those of you out there who are completely content in your Connecticut accent, but I will attempt to explain it nonetheless.
The correction is force the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth to begin the execution of the “t” but to then, instead of pushing air through it to make what’s called plosive, keep the tip of your tongue behind your teeth and immediately go to the “n” sound by using a glottal stop to get there. This, to me, sounds more normal and more like the way the rest of English-speaking people would say it.
Here’s my demonstration:
Another Inappropriate Use of the Glottal Stop “T”
Another correction that I am often making is when a person is singing the word combination “at me.” There’s no way to spell it, but here is my attempt:
- Short “a” sound (as in cat) followed by a glottal stop followed by the word “me”
This one is even harder to fix. It’s very subtle, and you really almost have to see it to hear it, so I’ll do a video demonstration. The correction is the same as the one above, and the result should sound something like the following:
Would You Like to Give It a Go?
Many of you reading this post are probably from Connecticut, and you might be asking yourself, “Do I speak that way?” Feel free to record yourself saying any of the example words or singing the first line of “Misty” and upload them here for a free assessment.