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Why is it that dropping h's pronouncing (th) as (f), or using a flapped intervolic t/d are taken as signs of poor education, when it's, objectively, just as orthographically wrong?

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    My guess would be, it's a mistake associated with a higher social class. In the US theta-fronting is generally associated with African-American Vernacular, but intrusive R is associated with accents closer to Received Pronunciation. (And flapped T is pretty much universal here so there's no real stigma.) – Draconis Feb 2 '17 at 18:13
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    All stigmas are social, not rational or linguistic. As such, they're unpredictable and depend on who's speaking, not what they're saying or what it means. Consequently there's no use in looking for objective causes beyond tribal identification. – jlawler Feb 2 '17 at 19:16
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    What has "orthographically wrong" got to do with anything? English orthography is largely non-phonemic, and there are countless dialects that are different in countless ways from whatever your favorite pronunciation is, and if you have a concept of "orthographically wrong", then that would mean they are all wrong except one. Heck, non-rhoticism itself would be "orthographically wrong", and that's part of RP. – LjL Feb 2 '17 at 20:28
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    @sumelic I should have been clearer I was in fact referring to -nt- flapping. – Harry Anderson Feb 2 '17 at 21:54
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    @Mitch, -nt- -> -nn- doesn't happen, so far as I know, though -nd- -> -nn- does, in some dialects. David Stampe's analysis is that the -n- nasalizes the preceding vowel, the -n- then disappears (as do all nasal consonants before homorganic voiceless stops), the -t- now is intervocalic and subject to the flapping process, and finally the resulting flap (being a sonorant) is voiced and nasalized. That leaves a voiced nasal flap from the original phonemic /nt/. Note that -n- (much less -nn-) is not possible at any stage, though intervocalic phonemic /n/ can also be flapped, ,,, (cont.) – Greg Lee Feb 3 '17 at 20:55
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A pronunciation feature of a dialect is called a mispronunciation only when it is stigmatized. When it applies to a regular feature of a dialect, like your two examples of r-insertion and flapping, that is simply what "mispronunciation" means -- saying things the wrong, i.e. stigmatized, way.

So if r-insertion and flapping are not stigmatized, they are not mispronunciations. It is all a matter of terminology and social prejudice.

Your use of the phrase "orthographically wrong" suggests that you have a theory about "correct" pronunciation that all and only the letters used in the conventional spelling of an expression should be directly reflected in pronunciation. That is an unusual idea, but if you have that prejudice, you do, and it's not the sort of thing that we can argue about. I don't share it, though.

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There is widespread belief that there is single correct way to say things in a language, so if you say tom[ɛj]to and I say tom[ɑ]to then one of us has to be wrong, and furthermore it's you (unless I recognize that my pronunciation tom[ɑ]to is in fact wrong). It's also widely believed that people are taught their language; so if they don't pronounce a word according to an assumed norm, then the most generous interpretation is that they don't know better and that would be because their education was deficient. This applies to r-dropping, r-insertion, θ→f, coda-simplification, use of "ain't", use of "could of" and so on.

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