Thursday, 8 March 2012

I don't believe it!

Most of us will have had the experience of mentioning some well-known phonetic feature of a given language/dialect/accent, only to have a native speaker deny that any such thing occurs.

I might point out to my phonetically unsophisticated audience that in words like bad, which in Britain ranges generally in the area bæd ~ bad, Americans often pronounce something with a much closer vowel, perhaps nasalized, often with an off-glide, something like bẽəd. Brits nod their heads in agreement. But a kindly middle-aged American lady protests that she has never heard such a thing: Americans never use such an ugly pronunciation.

Or, talking to a British audience, I mention the phenomenon of smoothing, whereby for example science, notionally ˈsaɪəns, is often/usually pronounced without any kind of phonetic ɪ in the middle, just ˈsaəns ~ saːns. People protest that they would never do that themselves, although they admit that perhaps effete upper-class/vulgar lower-class people might sometimes do so.

So it is with American t-voicing. You point out that atom and Adam are (usually) homophones in AmE. Oh no, says an American, that’s not true. Indeed, when Webster’s Third International (1961) pioneered the idea that the intervocalic consonant in this word is d, this was not well received in the United States. To this day, another dictionary from the same stable, Webster’s Collegiate, tells you that this word is pronounced with t. (OK, given that the t ~ d contrast is typically neutralized here, it may be reasonable to continue to write it as t. Arguably, the adjective atomic, where the t remains voiceless, enables even illiterate speakers to know that the underlying consonant is t, not d.) More sophisticated Americans will tell you that some distinction of vowel length or vowel quality enables the distinction to be preserved in such words despite the voicing of the obstruent. Indeed, this is why in LPD I felt obliged to fudge the issue by using a special voiced-t symbol. But the ODP, to its credit, gives the AmE pronunciation of atom as ˈædəm, with no further options.

Likewise with American nt-reduction. In the positions where AmE has t-voicing, many Americans reduce historical nt to plain n. This makes winter a homophone of winner ˈwɪnɚ and dental ˈdɛnl̩ ~ ˈdɪnl̩ a rhyme for fennel.

If your audience are reluctant to trust the evidence of their own ears when you play them sound clips of people using the pronunciations you are talking about, they may be convinced by the visual evidence of spelling mistakes.

I came across a particularly neat example of a spelling mistake based on nt-reduction. Shumway “Innernational” Airport, located in Shumway, Illinois, has its own Facebook page.
Actually, though, given that the reported population of Shumway is just 202, I suspect that the whole thing is a spoof. But there are 56,800 Google hits for innernational.

71 comments:

  1. It seems not as much as a spoof, as an attempt at humour, I guess. See this: http://effinghamdailynews.com/local/x1896304646/First-ever-Dust-Fly-has-all-forms-of-planes

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  2. Maybe depends on the relative social position of the person you are asking. If the American whom you ask about 'bẽəd' is your peer or your social superior, he or she will say 'no we never pronounce it that ugly'. But I once had an American student, a well-bred, gentle boy whom I asked, politely, to have a look at a number of words or phrases I had written down in such a way as to mimick American sounds to a British ear, and he said 'yes, this is how we sound', smiling gently. 'baird', 'curm arn, mairn!', and such-like. 'lurve' was not amongst those, but it could have been. I don't think I 'bullied' him into this concession. He made it after reading out these words doing his best to apply not his native (GA, basically) but the British, as far as he knew them, letter-to-sound rules.

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  3. I wonder if there has been any study about whether pairs like "atom" and "Adam" are actually homophonous for most GA speakers. I suspect they are not, any more than "Lear" and "Leah" are homophonous for RP speakers.

    1. Qualitative or quantitative distinction of the preceding vowel is common. What is interesting is not its commonness, but that some of these distinctions, notably Canadian Raising, are actually spreading (Labov et al: The Atlas of North American English). How can a raised diphthong before /t/ be adopted by a community that did not already have /t/ as an underlying phoneme?

    2. Distinction between the consonants themselves in more careful speech is extremely common.

    3. According to Kenyon, many Americans don't flap /d/, only /t/. An interesting question, that I cannot answer, is whether even if /d/ also is realized as a flap/tap physically, does it also act phonologically as a flap? For example, does it trigger elision after /n/ like /t/ in "winter"?

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    1. The earliest study to demonstrate (receptive) homophony of intervocalic t ~ d in AmE dates from 1943. See my Accents of English (p. 249 etc).

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    2. Thank you. What does "receptive" homophony mean?

      And do those sources deal with the points I raised?

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    3. That native speakers could not perceive the distinction better than random when spoken by other native speakers.

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  4. Interesting post.

    I know that I (an American speaker) am always annoyed when people *fail* to flap the "t" in words like "NATO" (NPR commentators carefully say "NA-TO" for example in a way I find maddeningly pretentious).

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    1. Good observation. Maybe you should turn the tables on John Wells and ask him if he knew he pronounced 'NATO' as 'Na-To' (trying to make it as maddeningly pretentious as you always hear it on NPR) and see if he says 'I don't believe it!'.

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    2. Failing to flap 't's is one of the things that signals a foreign accent to me. I wonder what nationality somebody would sound like if they spoke American perfectly except for not flapping their 't's.

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    3. 'I wonder what nationality somebody would sound like if they spoke American perfectly except for not flapping their 't's.'

      Sometimes I distinguish the Irish from Americans exactly by this feature (I hear Irish accents very very rarely, and I am of course not saying that the non-flapping of the r is the only thing that distinguishes them _per se_.)

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    4. @Tom Hinkle:

      I know what you mean.

      Even though my own (UK native) pronunciations of words like "NATO", "Netanyahu" or "Putin" use [t], when I hear US news announcers use [t] in these words, they almost always do so with what to me sounds like exaggerated carefulness.

      I still think use of [t] is more appropriate than [ɾ] or [ʔ] in names from foreign languages (where these languages themselves use [t]) but that could just be my own accent bias.

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    5. Then again, if the point were to match the foreign phones as closely as possible then we should use English /ð/ not /d/ for Spanish /d/, etc.

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    6. I totally agree that "NATO" with [t] sounds so pretentious! I don't understand why radio people feel the need to do that.

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  5. The case of NATO is another fascinating case.

    A strong case can be made that in English there are not only stressed and unstressed (weakly-stressed) syllables, but also weak (zero-stressed) syllables. The difference between merely "unstressed" and weak syllables is that the occurrence of the latter trigger numerous phonological phenomena.
    For example, /j/ can be dropped before the strong-unstressed /u:/ of "absolute", but not before the weak /u:/ of value. The weak /i:/ of "varies" can be shortened, lowered and laxed, but the strong-unstressed /i:/ of "bases" (from "basis") cannot. Weak syllables trigger shortening of the vowel of a preceding stressed syllable, but strong-unstressed ones do not. There are thousands of other examples.

    The fact that a group of vowels (probably /i:/, /u:/, /ei/ and /ou/) occur both in strong and in weak syllables leads to certain instances where all speakers pronounce the same vowel in a given syllable, but the degree of stress varies. The classic example is the word "veto", famously analysed in SPE. For some speakers, the second syllable is weak, therefore the first syllable may undergo heavy rhythmic shortening beyond pre-fortis clipping, the /t/ may become flapped, and the /ou/ may reduce to a lax [o]-type sound. For those speakers for whom the second syllable is strong-unstressed, none of these can happen.

    So maybe the "pretentious" articulation of NATO is simply a perfectly natural realization of a particular lexical form.

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    1. There's another difference between absolute and volume: the former has the /l/ in the onset, while the latter has it in the coda. In other words, /l/ and /j/ in volume are heterosyllabic, and heterosyllabic (syllable initial) /j/ is not a candidate for dropping, not even in AmE. The same applies to /n/ + /j/ in words like avenue and venue.

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    2. Yes, but in monomorphemic words it's the strength of the second vowel that determines which syllable medial consonants belong in. Cf. hu.man.it.y ~ man.a.tee (/t/ in the coda in the former and in the onset in the latter, because the former has a weak final vowel and the latter a strong one) where the difference in the /t/'s is the same as gray tape ~ great ape with the same sequence of phonemes but different morpheme boundaries.

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    3. As for present-day mainstream southern British English, I'd bite the bullet and say that /t/ and /ɾ/ are now separate phonemes (though with lots of words where they're in free variation, and a few content words where they alternate based on the following phoneme), as evidenced by such minimal pairs as pretty /prIti/ ‘nice-looking’ vs pretty /prIɾi/ ‘somewhat’ or matter /mat@/ ‘stuff’ vs matter /maɾ@/ ‘be relevant’.

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    4. (Or could we analyse them as /prIdi/ and /mad@/?)

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    5. Duh. That's an empirical question: do people pronounce the verb matter differently from both the noun matter and madder? (BTW, I used to be able to edit my posts; is still there a way to do that?)

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    6. I think it's more precise to say that there are stressed syllables, which are never vowel-reduced; unstressed but unreduced syllables; and unstressed reduced syllables.

      Do some Americans really say [ˈvidə]? Huh.

      As for [bẽəd], this is regionally restricted, and it may well be that many Americans have never heard it, or least never noticed it. After all, people who merge cot and caught hear people making the distinction every day on national television, and they are still clueless about it.

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    7. Re "pretty" and "matter":

      I have (at least) three types of realisation of what is usually transcribed /t/: a stop, a non-sibilant fricative similar to the one characteristic of Scouse (but I don't use it as much as Scousers do) and a tap or flap.

      The "nice-looking" and "stuff" meanings, as far as I can tell, can have either the stop or the fricative, the latter being commonest (I think) in normal speech, but not the tap/flap. To pronounce them with the tap/flap sounds "American". The "somewhat" and "be relevant" meanings, however, can have any of the three.

      I think that a similar split occurs with the presumably related "t to r" phenomenon found in stronger accents where I live. Certainly the "be relevant" meaning of "matter" gets that.

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    8. PS: whatever it is that's in "pretty" and "matter", I don't think it's /d/.

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    9. Army1987:
      I've just looked it up in a number of dictionaries, and none of them syllabified humanity the way you did. LPD was the only exception, all the others give -i.ty.

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    10. John Cowan:

      Not [ˈvidə]. [ˈvidoʊ]. /oʊ/ can be weak, is Levente's point.

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    11. teardrop:
      I meant phonologically (as described in Wells' Syllabification and allophony, not orthographically (the traditional way of hyphenating words at the end of the line). I should have used phonetic symbols rather than orthography.

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    12. Army1987:
      Yes, your use of dots let me know you meant syllabification, not hyphenation. So did I.

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    13. Thanks, AJD. I would write [ˈvido] for what I say, with no off-glide.

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  6. A common mistake is thinking a difference in spelling corresponds to one in speaking. Germans will typically deny Rad and Rat are homophones and will do all kinds of funny things to prove it to you, eg ʁaːt vs ˈʁaːt ˈtə or introduce tones.

    The case of some Sephardic Jews and the vowels of Tzere and Segol - both e in their tradtion - is even more dramatic if they attach ideological impoartance to distinguishing these, either for reasons of religious law (public Torah readings) or ethnic pride. There are other examples in Hebrew.

    Astonishingly often, one can read that two identically pronounced words or sounds are pronounced "nearly the same".

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  7. 'The case of some Sephardic Jews and the vowels of Tzere and Segol - both e in their tradtion - is even more dramatic if they attach ideological impoartance to distinguishing these'

    I used to think that Segol and Tzere were the same vowel in contemporary Israeli Hebrew. The Sephardic Jews take pride---do they not?---in pretendingly being more faithful to the ancient Hebrew pronunciation than the Askkenazim (hence for them S. and Tz. may be 'nearly the same' in your sense), though in this, they are outdone by the Yemenite Jews---this is what I have heard from many sources. Wrong?

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    1. Not entirely, but that would be too far off topic. It's more complicated, number of separate issues (Israeli Tzere vs Segol, Israeli vs Sephardic pronunciations, variety between Sephardic communities, let alone other "Orientals", Yemenite tradition or innovation…)

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    2. Ah yes, sure.

      But did you _really_ meet Germans pretending 'Rad' and 'Rat' sounded different? This amazes me.

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    3. Oh, yes. Utterly convinced.

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    4. strange... . Under the spell of spelling, sozusagen?

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    5. Well, Wojciech, try asking any Polish speaker if they think buk, Bug and bóg are pronounced the same or different.

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    6. Well, I'd suspect they would say 'the same'. Would they not?

      Unless perhaps---I am saying 'unless perhaps'---they misunderstood the question as asking whether the said words were pronounced alike _in all of their numerous grammatical forms_. Which, as we know, they aren't.

      This solution, if it be one, could perchance be made to work for the Lipmanian Germans as well: they, too, may be under the impression that 'Rat' and 'Rad' are pronounced differently, given that 'Rates' and 'Rades' obviously are. Well, do you linguists not talk of something like 'underlying' phonemes in such contexts, which, while develop coalescing positional allophones, nevertheless stay different? /ra:d/, /ra:t/, but[ra:t], [ra:t]?

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    7. Ah! So not really under the spell spelling, but having---linguistically ingenuous though they be, these Germans---an intuition of an otherwise theoretical entity, known as a morphoneme? I am delighted. Seriously.

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    8. No, that's just the word you were looking for.

      The average German is aware of the difference between Rates and Rades and thinks there's an actual difference in pronunciation in the nominative as well.

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    9. Yes, this I understand of course, but I thought maybe your average German has a glimpse, not of the actual final sounds of Rad and Rat, but of their 'underlying' morphonemes, which are different. That's admittedly a bit crazy a supposition, morphonemes being regularly reserved to the theory-armoured intellect of the linguist ... but ... pourquoi pas? I mean the very fact that your German or Pole or some other can misunderstand the question 'same or different' as pertaining to the whole assortment of grammatical forms may be evidence that he hears (in his mind's ears, to speak with Will) not the phone but the morphoneme. Otherwise, he is just duped by the spelling, which I find a boring hypothesis. And possibly an unjust one to the 'ingenuous' speaker.

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    10. I don't know, I think the word phonemes makes sense. "Underlying phonemes" meaning how we think of them in our head. Anyway, phoneme = sound unit; morpheme = meaning unit.

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    11. yes, but my hunch---for whatever little it might be worth---was precisely that those 'dumb' German speakers who pretend to hear 'Rat' and 'Rad' differently (though they be to human ears exactly the same, viz. [ra:t]) do in a way intuit, or 'hear in their mind's ears', the otherwise purely theoretical entity called since Trubetzkoy 'morphoneme', which is different in 'Rat' and 'Rad', given that the genitives of same are 'Rates' and 'Rades', respectively. It is not that they hear the 'Rad' with a voiced 'd'---but they hear a difference still, which they are hard put to pin down to anything accoustically--that is, in one's body's ears--graspable; hence the clumsiness of their attempts to make that difference hearable to others (see Lipman's posting above).

      Theoretical entities, such as morphonemes, are not accessible to the senses (you cannot 'see' the number 17, for instance). But sometimes they are intuitable, nonetheless. This is a very profound epistemological problem.

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    12. Morphophonemes. You have been the victim of haplogy.

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    13. I've seen both and see no cause to apolologise.

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    14. Better that than diplolology. Once you've started suffering from diplololologitis, there is no end.

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    15. I thought that at least some Standard German speakers in Switzerland do not apply the usual German neutralization of voiced-unvoiced pairs word-finally, so that they really do pronounce Rad and Rat differently. Am I imagining this?

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    16. Ad Jongseong

      I am not sure who you mean; Standard German speakers in Switzerland? Germans, Austrians, other germanophone foreigners? In Swiss German the voiced-unvoiced at least for stops doesn't exist, only lenis-fortis, this is the theory at least.

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    17. That was badly formulated. I meant Standard German as spoken in Switzerland by the germanophone Swiss who would speak Swiss German in their everyday lives.

      The 'voiced' obstruents are not fully voiced in this variety of German (and in Swiss German) so it might be better to call them lenis, but you know what I meant. :) Anyway, I've found the following sentence in the Wikipedia article on Swiss German that seems to support a distinction between Rad and Rat being kept for these speakers (it also uses the language of 'voicing' and 'devoicing', by the way):

      'Neither Swiss German nor the Swiss national variety of standard German exhibits final devoicing, unlike the German national variety of standard German (for example, "Zug" is pronounced [tsuːɡ] and not [tsuːk]).' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_German#Pronunciation)

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    18. Ad Jongseong

      yes, in this sense sure. Interestingly, they say the distinction is rather that of quantity, fortes being long, I presume, so Lipman's informants' ʁaːt vs ˈʁaːt ˈtə seems to make good sense.

      Ad John Cowan

      I don't wanna be a kill-joy, but one strange thing I seem to establish concerning your self-exemplifying terms is that while most of them don't exist (tefoissink, for instance), some do, e.g. 'adjectival' or 'adverbially'. Otherwise---very funny and congrats if you made them all up yourself. You seem to be very skilled at inventing various things concerning languages, for instance your other entry where you say that Czech is Slovak in a German mouth or some such.

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    19. some Standard German speakers in Switzerland do not apply the usual German neutralization of voiced-unvoiced pairs word-finally, so that they really do pronounce Rad and Rat differently. Am I imagining this?

      No. Some Standard German speakers in England or Serbia do the same.

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    20. Interestingly, they say the distinction is rather that of quantity, fortes being long, I presume, so Lipman's informants' ʁaːt vs ˈʁaːt ˈtə seems to make good sense.

      Didn't mean people speaking Standard German with a non-Standard German accent, though. the ˈtə was just their attempt to emphasise the t for me, of course. My point was they don't have a difference between Rad and Rat in actual speech.

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  8. [bẽəd] for [bæd] is much more regional than the other features.

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    1. '[bẽəd] for [bæd] is much more regional than the other features.'

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      In the U.S. you mean? Sure, it is. But it is, at the same time, so conspicuous that it sort of epitomises 'the' American accent to many non-Americans, like Bavarian leather-breeches (though they be very local too) epitomise all things German to many non-Germans.

      I remember as a schoolboy hearing blueses where they sang: 'my woman going out'---not to be too literal---'with another "mairn"'. 'Mairn' being sung on a long note, in a corresponding tone of voice.

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    2. To be clear, [ẽə] for /æ/ before /n/, as in "man", is extremely widespread in American English, and can be fairly taken as epitomizing "the" American accent. But [ẽə] for /æ/ before /d/ as in "bad" is much more regionally restricted, and it's very easy to believe that many Americans may have never heard it.

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    3. AJD is spot-on...[ẽə] in 'bad' is highly regional in the US. It sounds like something from the East Coast or Northern Cities.

      As a Californian, I'm used to /æ/ diphthongizing pre-nasally but [bẽəd] for 'bad' sounds like something someone might say 2,000 or 3,000 miles from here (and I'm not exactly even sure where, exactly).

      In a place like California, not only has /æ/ not diphthongized, it's been lowering towards /a/, as noted by those studying the
      California Vowel Shift (the exception being pre-nasally). Thus, my realizations are more or less as follows:

      [hæ̃ənd] 'hand'
      [hæ̃əm] 'ham'
      [he(ɪ)ŋ] 'hang'
      [he(ɪ)ŋk] 'Hank'
      [haːd] or [hæ̞ːd] (lowered [æ]) 'had'

      In this context [bẽəd] 'bad' sounds quite "other" indeed! I can thus very easily see how an American (depending on where they're from) might legitimately claim to not have come across [bẽəd] 'bad'. (Though surely at least in a movie sometime?)

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  9. But I thought that the tapping of 't' as [ɾ] in American English was an allophone of /t/, as in "What?" vs. "What are you doing?"
    In the same way that I hear a tapping of /d/ when I compare "read" to "reading" by an American speaker.

    Ok, I understand that there might (or might not) be neutralisation between /t/ and /d/ in certain contexts, as evidenced by the possible lack of contrast between "writer" and "rider" given that both have [ɾ] as an allophone, but I really don't understand what the evidence is to support that [ɾ] is an allophone of /d/ in 'atom' and therefore to transcribe /'ædəm/ when we hear ['æɾəm] if the underlying phoneme is /t/, as Wells explained. I can't make sense of it. Is it sensible to transcribe "What are you doing?" with a /d/ following OED's guidelines? Is it because both [d] and [ɾ] are voiced, so [ɾ] is closer to [d] than to [t]? Yet, as a native Spanish speaker I find British ['ɹi:dɪŋ] and American ['ɹi:ɾɪŋ] markedly different. And I understand that when there is neutralisation between two phonemes, a transcription with either of them seems sensible. But transcribing "what" with /t/ and "what are you doing" with /d/ does not seem sensible to me.

    I'm sorry but I'm part of the unsophisticated non-native audience :). Any explanation will be greatly appreciated.

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    1. I remember one American misunderstanding my 'riding school' (where they learn how to ride horses) as 'writing school'. But on closer scrutiny, he admitted that he would sound 'riding' and 'writing' different, the latter with a shorter diphthong or something to that effect. In both cases, a [ɾ] indeed.

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    2. I have long assumed that American prolixity in some phrases is for disambiguation. So we can explain their using of 'horseback riding' which sounds pleonastic to my English ear, in this way. 'I like riding' in US English gives no clue as to whether the speaker is an author or an equestrian.

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    3. Or prefers something with wheels.

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    4. Somewhere between many and most (but by no means all) American dialects distinguish clearly between "writing" and "riding" on the basis of the vowel.

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  10. I fess up. I'm an American who says bẽəd.

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    1. As a matter of fact, in Faroese (another 'strange' from our Contintentals' point of view insular Germanic language) the formerly short /a/ developed, when lenghtened in certain contexts, to /ɛaː/, along lines possibly not quite dissimilar to those along which the ME short /a/ has become /ẽə/ in variants of Am. English. (Are there serious studies on this Faroese development?) So there are more folks whose 'fessing up' is overdue...

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  11. 'bẽəd' is rare outside the Northern Cities region (Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo). In Valley Girl sociolect it's [bad], as in CVShifted Canadian English and Upton-RP.

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    1. It's not quite true that it's rare in all areas outside the NCS region. It's also how "bad" is pronounced in the New York and Philadelphia accents.

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    2. Tom S, that's a great point about the California Vowel Shift from /æ/ towards /a/. At the very least those in California not as progressive as /a/ are not raising or diphthongizing it (except for, of course, pre-nasally).

      This raises another, perhaps unintentional point of the original post...that those outside an accent group/area may pick up on a feature confined to a specific phonological environment and overgeneralize its placement. A Briton hearing [mẽən] for 'man' may overgeneralize and assume all instances of /æ/ diphthongize thusly, when it's really a specific conditioned environment (pre-nasal) for most Americans that doesn't apply to words like 'bad' (except for in specific regions hardly representative of the majority of Americans).

      Similarly, an American hearing a glottal stop in a Londoner's 'butter' might overgeneralize and assume all instances of /t/ become [ʔ] in British English when that's quite far from the case.

      I've actually heard a few Britons try to replicate a "typical American" accent with pronunciations like [fẽəst] for 'fast', which sounds to my ears about as representative of "typical" American speech as an American imitating a "typical" British accent with the [ɒɪv gɒʔ ə bɪʔ əv ˈbɪʔə ˈbɐʔə wɪv mɪi ˈɪnːɪʔ] type of "imitations."

      :D

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  12. 'bẽəd'(in Buffalo NY, Rochester NY)
    bæd (in Lake Placid NY, Plattsburgh NY)

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  13. To me, my own flap-T and flap-D sound quite different from each other -- there's a breathy quality on the flap-T that's absent in the flap-D. When I've checked it using PRAAT software, the difference between my flap-T and flap-D is quite obviously visible, so much so that I've wondered why there's even any controversy as to whether some Americans distinguish the two -- surely I'm not the only one. However, I don't know whether the difference is audible to anyone else, or whether listeners rely on context to disambiguate. I'll have to see whether any other Americans can tell which one I'm saying.

    I keep wishing I could hear some examples of Americans pronouncing "winter" as "winner" or similar such words. The only one I'm familiar with from my own pronunciation is "twunny" to mean "twenty." I wouldn't deny that there must be *some* Americans *somewhere* who are dropping t's in the -nt- environment all the time, but it doesn't feel normal or natural to me, and so I wonder where these people are and whether I'm just not noticing. Some ESL accent reduction books present these pronunciations as the norm, and I have a hard time buying it.

    The pronunciation of "bad" you're describing does, however, seem to be quite widespread.

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  14. p.s. I've found a Youtube video of someone teaching t-dropping after /n/ as standard American English, so now I know how it sounds. Some of the examples sounded very non-standard to me -- like something you might hear from a high school dropout, most likely in a sentence beginning with "Hey, dude..." ("romannic" for "romantic" particularly made me cringe). I wonder whether I'm unusual in having that reaction. Perhaps t-dropping in these contexts is more prevalent in some regions or among younger speakers.

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    1. I take it back. Partly, anyway. Today I discovered that my 81-year-old mother pronounces "reinventing" as "reinvenning." So I guess I just haven't been paying attention. :)

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    2. Karen,

      About "romannic", perhaps listening to 'No Surrender' by Bruce Springsteen (around the 2:50 mark) will change your mind:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD3DdskaPhs

      "I want to sleep beneath
      Peaceful skies as in my lover's bed
      With a wide open country in my eyes
      And these romantic dreams in my head"

      Here are some words where I think the flap t is dropped more often than not: dentist, hunter, incidental.

      For an EFL-oriented summary of the flap t phenomenon, see http://www.antimoon.com/how/flap-t.htm

      Tomasz

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  15. It seems to me, that the T dropping is more common among the less educated, or when one is speaking informally. If done in the presence of a teacher, one would be instructed to enunciate.

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