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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Jan 30th, 2014, 08:01 am
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Default Consonant clusters nt, nd, rt and rd‏. (part I)

Dear teachers and members:

Alveolar stop and alveolar nasal plus a stop become voiced taps or voiced flaps when they occur between two vowels (intervocalic) of which the second is unstressed. I would like to know is this occurs in the folowing consonant clusters I will expose.

I° - In most of the time in american English (AmE) when the consonant cluster NT, (an alveolar nasal followed by an alveolar stop) is intervocalic and the second vowel is unstressed, the voiceless alveolar stop T is lost and a nasal stop occurs, thus the voiced nasal alveolar N becomes the only one being pronounced, sounding as follows:

a) Identify / aɪˈdɛnɪˌfaɪ /, accountable / əˈkaʊnəbəl/, internet, / ˈɪnərnɛt /, twenty / ˈtwɛnɪ /

b) Listen to me / ˈlɪsən ə mi /; I don't want a live like that / aɪ dəʊnt wɒn ə laɪv laɪk ðæt/; I want to go / aɪ wɒn ə ɡəʊ /; Take it for granted / teɪk ɪt fər ˈɡrænɪd /


1) This words or sentences containing this cluster may be pronounced either as NT or as N in AmE.

2) Does this process occur because these consonants share the same place of articulation (the alveolar ridge); because one is voiced and the other is voiceless or for what another reason?

3) I Found that this does not happen when the consonant cluster NT is followed by the gerund form ING; why does not happen in this case?

Hunting / hʌntɪŋ /, haunting / hɔntɪŋ /, renting / rɛntɪŋ/, punting / pʌntɪŋ /

4) I found this also happen in some verbs when they are in the past or past participle tenses; is this because of some vowel sounds as / ʌ, ɔ / or another reason?

Hunted / hʌnɪd/, haunted / ˈhɔnɪd/, punted / pʌnɪd/

5) Can this process also occur in the case of the voiced consonant cluster ND?; soundind as:

a) Founded / faʊnɪd /, blinded / blaɪnɪd /, intended / ɪntɛnɪd / Individual / ɪnɪˈvɪdjʊəl /, windy / ˈwɪnɪ /,
kind of / kaɪn əv /,hand and glove / hæn ən ɡlʌv /.

b) I send a message to my mother every morning ; / aɪ sɛn ə ˈmɛsɪdʒ tə maɪ ˈmʌðər ˈɛvrɪ ˈmɔnɪŋ/
the police tried to apprehend a thief / ðə pəˈlis traɪd tə æprɪˈhɛn ə θif/

Your assitance and help will be deeply appreciated in this matter.


The Apprentice

Last edited by THE APPRENTICE : Feb 5th, 2014 at 09:31 pm.
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Unread Feb 13th, 2014, 09:56 am
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Default Re: Consonant clusters nt, nd, rt and rd‏. (part I)

The alveolar plosives (or stops) /t/and /d/ are very unstable in all varieties of English. What changes from variety to variety is how exactly they are reduced. For example, in a word like "bottle" an allophonic variant may be used - for example a glottal stop [ʔ] in London English, or an alveolar flap in many varieties of US English. Or they may be elided completely, as in many of your examples.

If you Google this you'll find three rules for the elision which pop up all the time:

1) The must be at the end of the syllable (the coda) and not at the beginning. So eg in the sentence "I don't want a cup of tea" I could elide the first two /t/ sounds but not the third : /aɪ dəʊn wɑ:n ə kʌp ə ti:/.
The only exception to this that I can think of is "to" in and expression like "want to" - also pronounced /wɑ:nə/. But the explanation is probably that this is a case of gemination + elision (gemination = when two identical phonemes occur consecutively, they are pronounced as one, slightly longer than usual sound) and the geminated consonant which is elided is considered as syllable final. It wouldn't happen to "to" in other contexts where there was a different consonant preceding - eg "back to work".

2) The /d/ or /t/ must be preceded by a consonant with the same voicing - eg /d/ is voiced, so it can be elided in "handsome /hænsəm/ where it is preceded by another voiced consonant /n/ but not in "bad idea" where it is preceded by a vowel. This also explains you query about the -ing forms. the - ing is irrelevant. Look at your examples : they all have /n/ (voiced) before the (unvoiced) /t/ in the word. Elision would be possible I think in a word like "posting" or "wasting" where unvoiced /s/ precedes /t/.

However, the rule doesn't seem to hold up completely : in the sentence quoted before "I don't want a" the /t/ sounds (which are unvoiced) are also preceded by /n/ - yet are elided. In fact, this happens in all negative contractions. and various people have pointed out that /d/ is unlikely to be elided before /r/ (also voiced) , as in "fried rice".

3) It can't happen before /h/. I'm dubious about that that one - I can imagine saying "not him" and eliding the /t/. I admit a glottal stop would be (in my accent) more likely though.

So I'm not fully convinced by any of these rules. I'd therefore go with the account in Gimson "An Introduction to the pronunciation of English". He discusses these rules, but not as absolutes, saying :
"Such elision appears to take place most readily, in rapid speech, in the sequence continuant* consonant + /t/ or /d/ ... followed by a word** with an initial consonant - eg next day, raced back" /neks deɪ/ /reɪs bæk/

"Similarly,word final clusters of plosive or affricate (eg /pt/... /ʤd/) may lose the final alveolar stop when the following word has an initial consonant - eg kept quiet, ... urged them"
/kep kwɪəjət/ /ɜ:ʤ ðəm/

"Elision of final /t/ or /d/ is rarer before /h/..."

"Final sequences /nt/ /lt/ tend to keep either /t/ or [ʔ]..."

The use here of "tend to", rarer" etc seem to be to be far closer to reality than the absolute rules found elsewhere.

* a continuant consonant is one you can continue saying as one continuous sound till your breath runs out - eg /s/, /n/
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Unread Feb 13th, 2014, 09:33 pm
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Default Re: Consonant clusters nt, nd, rt and rd‏. (part I)

Thanks a lot Susan53:

Your explanations are excellent.
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