When is a /t/ a /d/?

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on October 16, 2012

Most of you know I’m a stickler for precise articulation, but here’s an interesting contradiction to that.

Many times medial /t/ sounds can be changed to /d/ even in standard American diction.  This is important to know when you’re voicing and going for a comfortable delivery.  Let me explain….

The /t/ phoneme is produced with no sound from the vocal cords and only an explosion of air (read more about this).  In our language, it often sounds over-pronounced to use a full /t/ phoneme in the middle of words especially those with double /t/’s.  In these instances, it’s correct for the /t/ to sound more like a /d/.

Here are some examples of phrases and words that illustrate this point.  Say the first two words in the list out loud.  It is correct to pronounce the /t/’s as /t/’s here.  Now say the single word next to the double words out loud.  See if in the single word you pronounce the /t/ or do you make it a /d/?  Try both ways and see how it sounds.  Sometimes a /t/ can correctly be changed to a /d/.

let her—–letter

bit her—–bitter

bet her—–better

eight he—–eighty

Want to know more about articulation?  Ck out my book, BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK,  which actually has a whole chapter on artic!  And for more Voice Tips, “Like” my facebook page in the blue square at the top of the page, and you’ll get two tips a week on FB!

 

 

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