The phenomenon of T Glottalization, which is distinct from the Queen's English in that the T sound is replaced with a glottal stop, is evidenced in some of the papers of linguists working in the 1960s and 70s in some areas of the north. It is now more widespread among younger generations and is now also associated with "MLE" (Multicultural London English).

Considering the recent association of this linguistic feature with immigrant speakers, did T Glottalization exist before modern times or is it solely a recent phenomenon? All of the speakers from the Survey of English Dialects, conducted between 1950 and 1961 with elderly speakers, pronounced their Ts "properly", but it is possible they were speaking more formally because they knew they were being recorded.

  • t is not replaced with ?. Rather, t in syllable offset before a stop consonant (not s) is glottalized, like p and k, then the glottalized t loses its oral alveolar articulation, leaving behind just a glottal stop. But I don't know the answers to your questions. I do know that the glottalization of syllable-offset non-nasal stops is also a feature of some British dialects.
    – Greg Lee
    Mar 2, 2020 at 19:52
  • Sorry, I should have been more specific. It is isn't always glottalized, only in the middle or end of a word. It is still pronounced at the start of words, e.g. "tap" or "table".
    – Charlie
    Mar 2, 2020 at 20:24
  • We have an earlier bound for T-glottalisation in Cockney: John Walker's 1791 Critical Pronouncing Dictionary does not mention it in his diatribe against Cockney speech; it is not visibly seen in the novels of Dickens, and did not end up being carried to Australia with the mass deportation of many from that background. So its entry into the speech of SE England must have been in the late 19th century.
    – Michaelyus
    Mar 3, 2020 at 17:43
  • 1
    There's one unambiguous citing in Dickens's Pickwick Papers, the spelling gen’l’m’n.
    – Michaelyus
    Mar 3, 2020 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


Wells (1982: 261) writes:

The [Linguistic Atlas of England] shows [ʔ] for /t/ only in a small area around London and in East Anglia (map Ph239). Wright (1905: §287) recognizes it only in 'west-mid Scotland, Lothian, and Edinburgh', and then only before /ə/ plus a liquid (kettle, water). But by 1909 Jones, in the first edition of his Pronunciation of English, writes 'In Scotland and London t is often replaced by the glottal plosive ʔ', giving the London example [ɑaiŋɡɔʔwan] I haven't got one. The very widespread dissemination of [ʔ] for /t/ at the present day suggests, therefore, that Glottalling must have spread very fast in the course of the present century.

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