In Nalo Hopkinson's short story Can’t Beat ‘Em, people try to deal with a sort of "sink throat monster" that one of the characters calls "glups". While reading the story a second time, I gained the impression that the story has a higher-than-usual percentage of words containing the /ʌ/ sound preceded by an "l" or "m" and followed by an "l", "m", "p" or "g". (The IPA symbol /ʌ/ represents the vowel that you find in words such as "gut" and "dull".) Examples include "glup" (obviously repeated several times), "slug", "glugging", "slugged", "mug" and "glumly".

A number of other words come close enough, e.g. "slung" and "pulsed", however, if I broaden the category too much, the question becomes meaningless, since the syllable structure consonant(s) + /ʌ/ + consonant(s) is not unusual.

So my question is whether this syllable structured is indeed unusually frequent here (so far, I've only compared this story with Hopkinson's Ally, where this syllable structure is less frequent) and what it might mean.

  • This could be heavily dependent on accent. I wonder what kind of accent the author has (born in Jamaica, lives in Canada, IIRC) and how she'd pronounce these phonemes.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Aug 23, 2018 at 18:47
  • @Randal'Thor Hmm. How relevant is this if the story (unlike "Shift") is not set in Jamaica or the Caribbean?
    – Tsundoku
    Aug 23, 2018 at 18:51


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