I spend rather too much time on Sydney trains. On some trains, as it is pulling out of a station, a recorded announcement says ‘Next stop (name)’. The recorded announcer is impeccably clear, and says ‘/nɛkststɒp/’ (that is, with the ‘st’ of ‘next’ and the ‘st’ of ‘stop’ clearly pronounced). On other trains, this announcement is given by the human guard, who usually says ‘‘nɛkstɒp’ (that is, running the two ‘st’s together). A variation on this is when the guard says ‘/fɜstɒp/ (name), then (names)’ (that is ‘first stop’).
This morning, the young woman sitting in front of me between Central and Town Hall was typing a Facebook post on her mobile phone. She’d been drenched by the heavy rain, then ‘nek minut’, she’d slipped and fallen on a wet surface. I don’t usually read other people’s mobile phones, but the way she was holding it made it almost impossible not to. The ‘nek minut’ had squiggly red line under it, but she didn’t correct it, despite that fact that the rest of the post had no red underlining, so I got to thinking that maybe she’d done that deliberately for some reason.
When I got to work I searched online, and found an internet meme from 2011, which I had previously fortunately completely escaped noticing. Various discussions online render the two words as ‘nek minnit’, ‘negg minute’ and ‘nek minute’, but not this young woman’s spelling of ‘nek minut’. The ‘gg’ spelling represents the /k/ assimilating to the following /m/. There’s also no particular reason to choose between the spellings of ‘minute’, ‘minut’ and ‘minnit’.
I completely fail to see why this particular clip achieved internet meme status in the first place, and why anyone would choose to consciously adopt it into a Facebook post in the second. Maybe I’m just getting old. I can appreciate lolcat and doge, as imaginative, inventive, often very funny, and deliberately playing with the rules of English, but ‘nek minnit’ isn’t and doesn’t.
Update 28 Feb: travelling today, I noticed 1) that the recorded platform announcements say ‘first stop’ with the two ‘st’s clearly pronounced; 2) the guard said ‘This is ay Mount Victoria service’. (I have also noticed some guards saying ‘This is ay Epping service’.)