trap kit

The moment Kent walks into the apartment, he knows something is wrong. Kit is usually at the door the moment she hears his keys from the other side. Today, however, there is no cat to greet him.

He searches from room to room, wondering if she’d maybe just fallen asleep, but he can’t find her. He feels a trickle of worry. Eventually, he hears a faint meow from his bedroom.

On the floor of his closet, he finds Kit trapped in the sleeve of one of his sweaters. She looks up with him with widened eyes and meows again. Kent starts laughing because she looks hilarious. She wiggles herself like a giant snake, but then gives up and gives a pitiful mew.

After several photos of his ridiculous cat, Kent finally gets her out of the sleeve. She walks away coolly as if that didn’t just happen.

Kent grins and posts the picture to his Twitter and Instagram.


A Package for Ms. O'Connell
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The Typical Warrior Cat Kit, ready to kill you one hit, no miss.

The Typical Kit is usually seen parading around Fluorite Plains, following a clan, leading them unknowingly straight into hours upon hours of focusing solely on it. It acts as a parasite, feeding on whoever it is assigned to, and anyone who happens to accidentally interact with it. Stopping interaction with it will cause a sudden very loud pity party, because it is now being ignored (for five seconds). If the spotlight leaves them for a moment, they will seek out ways to bring it back– Usually by drowning itself, getting lost, getting suddenly attacked by some unseen force, or even better– Finding another clan to drag over to attack yours, as it’s been “suddenly kidnapped”. Typical Kits usually have very telling names, making them rather easy to identify. I’m looking at you, “Deadkit”.

Hopefully the depiction of said parasite above will help you avoid falling into the Typical Warrior Kit’s trap!

In English there’s a phonological rule forbidding certain vowels, which are called the checked vowels, from appearing at the end of a word. The list varies a little between dialects—for me it consists of the vowels of kit, dress, trap, lot and foot, but people without a Northern English accent who have that weird, out-of-place extra strut vowel should include that one in the list as well, and for most Americans, the vowel of lot shouldn’t be included because its vowel has merged with the vowel of palm, which can appear at the end of a word (cf. spa). Some people also pronounce the final vowel of happy the same as the vowel of kit, meaning this vowel can’t be included among the checked vowels, while others pronounce it the same as the vowel of fleece (and some others, like Adele when she sings, pronounce it the same as the vowel of dress).

In historical terms, the checked vowels are the reflexes of the Middle English short vowels, and the reason they don’t appear at the end of the word is that word-final short vowels were reduced to schwa at the end of polysyllabic words (in which they were unstressed) and lengthened at the end of monosyllabic words (in which they were stressed). Since vowel reduction applies in loanwords just as much as native words and there aren’t that many languages that distinguish pairs of vowels like fleece vs. kit (and out of those that do, like German, most have a similar checked vowel rule), loanwords haven’t been able to disturb the pattern.

In my speech, however, there’s one notable exception to the rule: the interjection yeah. This is a weird word, phonologically, in many accents (as is quite common for interjections). I imagine it must have come from yes /jɛs/ simply by loss of the final /-s/, but this left it with a final checked vowel and so there must have been a natural tendency to alter the pronunciation to make it more phonologically well-behaved. It seems that the usual way to do this was to insert a schwa off-glide after the final vowel giving /jɛə/. For British English this was a nice solution, because the vowel could then be identified with that of square. For American English it wasn’t quite as nice, because the /ɛə/ phoneme doesn’t exist in rhotic English accents. Probably for this reason, the OED suggests that the presumably older, flagrantly checked-vowel-rule-violating /jɛ/ pronunciation is most common in America. But it does exist on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s what I have, for example. And there’s a particular reason why I use this pronunciation: in my accent the /ɛə/ phoneme doesn’t exist. It’s been merged into /ɜː/, the vowel of nurse. (Although I suppose that, given that some Americans use /ɛə/, it wouldn’t be impossible for speakers with my accent to use /ɛə/ in this one word.)

Some Americans say /jæ/ or /jæə/ as well. I don’t know how you could explain that vowel shift. Although given the connotations this pronunciation often has it could have originated as a deliberate mispronunciation for humorous effect. (The same thing might be what lies behind the bizarre Scouse pronunciation of lad as lid.)

And there are of course variants with final p, which are easy to explain—the word yeah often ends an utterance, and at the end of an utterance you usually close your mouth, which can result in the sound of an (unreleased) [p] if the closure is sufficiently fast and takes place while air is still flowing out of the oral tract.

EDIT: @tropylium​ suggests that the /jæ/ pronunciation could come from speakers identifying the vowel of yeah with tensed /æ/, as in man [mɛən].