I have the notion that /t/ and /th/ (aspirated [t]) are complementary allophones. How would I write the rule that an aspirated t occurs at the beginning of a word and the beginning of a stressed syllable? I already have some of it:

/t/ -> [th] /#_ or ??
-> [t] Elsewhere

But I don't know how to write the syllable bit as a rule.

We've only really spoken about things being at the start or end of gaps and whether the sounds are followed by vowels (front or back) or consonants.

It's a pretty simple question but I can't find the answer anywhere - please bare in mind I've only been studying Linguistics in any capacity for 9 weeks.

  • Even if you get a helpful answer, I'd hold out a day or two before accepting one. Otherwise, people may not bother to write you any more answers, and you may miss out on useful info (and so will future readers). Dec 5, 2022 at 23:52
  • May I ask, are you a native speaker? If so, I have a burning question I'd like to ask you in relation to your title. It's related to my PhD thesis (It's also completely unrelated to your own question). Dec 5, 2022 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


The SPE notation for a stressed syllable is to put an acute accent above the V symbol denoting any vowel. I found it somewhat hidden in this handout on SPE.

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