Here, I am talking about the assimilated /t/ sound that is one of the most common features of Standard Southern British English (such as /t/ at the beginning of a syllable, time, task, Twitter, twice, etc.) as they are enunciated as /tts/ (neither full /ts/ nor /t/). If you pronounce /t/ sound as /t/ sound, there will not be any sound change taking place and I am afraid that you will not help me with this.

However, when these /tts/ sounds are preceded by affricatives or fricatives in a connected speech, I have noticed a possible sound change that the tongue will NOT necessarily get to the position that /tts/ is usually pronounced (right above the front teeth and below the alveolar ridge) but rather the tongue would simple be like hanging in the middle of the space without touching any place that it is supposed to touch when pronouncing /tts/ sound. There are also two exceptions towards this possible rule, first when /tts/ sound is stressed or second when there is a gap between these two sounds (as you read word by word)

I will give several examples for you as follows;

  1. It is time to go to bed! (/ts/+/tts/)
  2. He is my English teacher. (/ʃ/+/tts/)
  3. She is my Chinese teacher. (/z/+/tts/)
  4. i will see you next time (/s/+/tts/)

My question is is it a common sound change in English (especially in Southern British English) and the native speakers may not necessarily be conscious of this. Thanks, guys!

  • 1
    What you write as /tts/ is the affrication of syllable-onset /t/, pronounced as [tˢʰ] (with varying levels of affrication and aspiration). There is not usually any change in this pronunciation after fricatives (or sibilants, as all your examples are), as far as I know. It may be that the level of affrication tends to be slightly lower after sibilants than in isolation, but if it is, I’d say it’s incidental and at best inconsistent. It certainly doesn’t occur after other fricatives (e.g., ‘I’ve taken’). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 at 9:25
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Thank you very much for your reply about the correct term for /tts/ (/tsh/) But can i ask the corresponding term for the assibilated /d/ sound as in /ddz/? – Peteryu Jan 24 at 9:34
  • That would be [dᶻ], which is less ubiquitous than [tˢ], but still relatively common in SE British. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 24 at 9:39
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Thank you very much for your reply about the correct term for /tts/ (/tsh/) But can i ask the corresponding term for the assibilated /d/ sound as in /ddz/? And for the answer towards the rule of it, it was my mistake that i should have been more specific about them that it should only be limited to alveolar fricatives and Alveopalatal fricatives and affricatives together with /ts/ /dz/ /tr/ /dr/. I strongly doubt that this sound change only appears occasionally that you will NOT be able to actually pronounce /tsh/ the same way in other situations. – Peteryu Jan 24 at 9:43
  • 1
    I – like most English-speakers – pronounce it as affricated and aspirated [tˢʰ] in absolute stressed syllable onset, that is, when it comes first in a stressed (or secondarily stressed) syllable; as plain [t] when part of the cluster /st/ in the same syllable; and when it’s syllable-final between vowels, varyingly as a tap [ɾ], a plain [d ~ t] or a glottal stop [ʔ]. As long as the /t/ is treated as being in absolute onset in a stressed syllable, it will almost invariably be [tˢʰ], regardless of what comes before it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 26 at 9:59

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