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Female Nasalization: An Apotropaism?

Nasalization is the production of a sound while the velum is lowered, allowing the breath stream to pass through the nose instead of the mouth during the sound’s production. There are nasal consonants and nasal vowels, but beyond this characterization one notes that some speakers have a strong nasalization of their entire utterances, whether they contain nasal sounds or not (= “talking through one’s nose”). This observation pertains especially to the speech of contemporary American females of the younger generation (adolescents, college students, and beyond).

Anything, including phonetic features, which serves to mitigate or attenuate the directness of an utterance, can be interpreted as a means of forestalling disagreement or deflecting potential risk. Could this phenomenon, therefore, qualify as an apotropaism? Given the several other ways that the latter has been chronicled in earlier posts, it is at least an educated guess, hence a valid abductive inference and amenable to testing.

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

 

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