Monday, March 16, 1998 at 08:55:10
I found it interesting that when people do use the "the-uh" filled pause, as in "have you been to the-uh museum", that "the" IS pronounced "thee", it is not pronounced "thuh" which means that when "thee-uh" is used, the person using it knows it's coming! When I think about it, I have rarely heard "have you been to thuh, thee-uh museum?" What do you think? A very interesting site.
When 'the' is pronounced as 'thee' it is often an instance of lengthening--another form of hesitation in spontaneous speech. It is further interesting to note that when analyzing computer-based transcriptions of spontaneous speech one of the most often occurring speech items near hesitations is...(drum roll)...another speech hesitation! Yes, they often appear in pairs or more. Thus it is not surprising to find 'thee uh...' In my research I have even noticed that not only the definite article 'the' but also the indefinite article 'a' is lengthened and pronounced as 'ay': "Do you have [ay] uh hammer?" I have not yet observed what happens when the noun the person is searching for begins with a vowel sound, however. I'll guess that in such a case the speaker will give a self-correction (another form of hesitation): "Do you have [ay] uh an egg beater?"
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