I routinely hear a relative add syllables to words to sound more "correct." "menu" becomes "men-a-you." "Daily" becomes "day-uh-lee." It seems to be coupled with a slowing of the pronunciation in imitation of a register of English "higher" than the casual Midwestern dialect. The subject is from Iowa and Minnesota, and has spoken German fluently, but English is the first language. What is this?

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    Pure speculation, but the speaker could be breaking unstable segments down into syllabic units. You'd need to show me more examples, but both [mɛ.nʌ.ju] and [de.jʌ.li] involve the syllabification of a sonorant which might be otherwise 'absorbed' into another segment, i.e. [mɛ̃.ju~mɛ̃ɲu], [deɪ̯.li]. If they're trying to speak 'more clearly', this syllabification might be a means the speaker is using to avoid the loss of underlying segments.
    – Khove
    Jun 20, 2021 at 4:39

1 Answer 1


There is the term hypercorrection for this kind of phenomena, although I am not sure if it is applicable to your example.

A typical example for hypercorrection is the following: A native speaker of the palatinate dialect (rheinfränkisch) does not discriminate the sounds /i/ and /y/ in dialectal pronunciation. So High German kümmern becomes kimmern in the dialect. Trying to speak High German, by analogy, forms like *schwümmen for schwimmen come up.

  • This came to mind for me too, but I agree it could have another explanation — some phonotactic trouble in their idiolect... Jun 20, 2021 at 12:58

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