Spanish T and English T are quite different. I was wondering if the difference is just about laminar/apical realisations. I'm talking about unstressed T; that is, no aspiration included. Recently I found a video where an English man says that English T has something special: affrication. It's not an affricate; it's just a plosive consonant with affrication. Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PSdlctYBsw

What do you think about this? Is English T (at least in most dialects) an apical alveolar plosive with affrication?

  • Please state your question more specifically. "What do you think about this" seems to be vague and invites for opinions, not for knowledge. – bytebuster Feb 26 '18 at 16:46
  • Initial /t/ in stressed syllables is aspirated heavily in English; if it comes before /r/ in a cluster, it's frequently affricated to a /tʃ/ cluster. I.e, true and chew sound the same to most speakers, just like bare and bear, and they are not confused any more often. – jlawler Feb 26 '18 at 18:13
  • My question is about the non aspirated T (in weak position). And it's not about true affricates. It's about a plosive /t/ with "affrication". It would be [t] with a small s superscripted. – Roney Souza Feb 26 '18 at 19:52
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    @jlawler, rounding (due to r) starts earlier for "true" than it does for "chew". They sure sound different to me. – Greg Lee Feb 26 '18 at 22:16
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    @jlawler True, a following /r/ can trigger /t/-affrication, but the /r/ is not entirely lost in the resulting /tʃ/. Hence Greg's comment. A following underlying /j/ can sometimes trigger /t/-affrication, too, as in e.g. future, actual, century, tube. – Rosie F Feb 27 '18 at 9:16

Geoff Lindsey does has this affrication feature in his pronunciation of /t/ – his pronunciation doesn't strike me as strange, just British. Honeybone discusses similar lenition in Liverpudlian which includes [ts] realizations. It is probably true for some range of UK dialects. I can't say that I've heard this from any American English speakers, but sub-phonemic details are easy to miss: it's certainly not present in my local dialect. Dialects can't be meaningfully counted, so questions about "most" can't be resolved. At present, I don't believe there has been a systematic survey of where this affrication shows up. FWIW, the same thing happens in Siswati and the dialect of Arabic spoken by many Berber speakers, and it is connected to aspiration. His realizations of /t/ in unaspirated contexts is not affricated by comparison to the aspirated allophone (I didn't do a systematic acoustic study), so I suspect it is an enhancement feature for aspiration.

  • I'm more used to British English and I've noticed this feature in pretty much all English English accents. I'll pay more attention to American accents. Thank you so much for your explanation. – Roney Souza Feb 26 '18 at 22:45

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