Matter and Madder.

Dulcinea del Toboso   Thursday, July 15, 2004, 18:52 GMT
I'm delighted to see that Cervantes' wonderful characters are remembered here. Since I don't wish to enter my real name, I've chosen one which I thought was most appropriate :-) from my favorite novel.

One "benefit" of unusually pronounced geographical names is that it serves as a shibboleth in detecting Those Not From Here. Since there is almost no variation in regional accent in the western U.S. states, this is often the only clue in detecting those pesky out-of-staters...

I offer 10 points to the first person who can correctly determine the pronunciation of "Sequim" (no fair looking it up in a geographical atlas or travel guide).
Mi5 Mick   Friday, July 16, 2004, 04:37 GMT
Greetings Jordi,

The softening of the "t" normally occurs in fast speech, so it isn't isolated to informal communication; it's definitely present in formal modes. As I said before, even Members of Parliament and reporters in the media often sound it in this manner, unknowingly. I think it's a natural effect due to the pace or tempo required for their delivery, so it's hardly related to any slipping of the tongue or slanginess. Yet, this "d" does retain the same crisp quality of a "t" and can be made to sound proper or formal with the appropriate surrounding words. By contrast, it isn't flimsy like "forged aboud id", the famous quote Hugh Grant tries to reproduce in the film Mickey Blue eyes.

As for "Katich", I've never heard the name pronounced with a solid "t" in the news or during a game televised on channel 9. However, it is possible that this is not the case on SBS or ABC, as they try so hard to imitate "ethnic" (your cozy word ;)) pronunciations, especially SBS; naturally they thumb their noses at mainstream-speak with the aid of mostly ethnically "accented" broadcasters. :)

By the way, potato sounds like either p'tato or p'tado.
Damian   Friday, July 16, 2004, 07:14 GMT
Spud is easier to pronounce :-)
CG   Friday, July 16, 2004, 11:13 GMT
Mi5 Mick   Friday, July 16, 2004, 11:35 GMT
Yeah Damian :)

I'll rewrite my pronunciations: p'tay-toh and p'tay-doh.

But P'tay-oh? Where are you from?
Damian   Friday, July 16, 2004, 13:48 GMT
Estuary English is now gaining ascendancy in most Brits under the age of 30.... so for potato read:


It's [b'e'..r] if you pronounce it tha' way now if you wanna gain street cred yeah? See ya!
Mi5 Mick   Friday, July 16, 2004, 14:58 GMT
Is Estuary English the accent sung in the song "Fit But You Know It" by the group Streets?
Damian   Friday, July 16, 2004, 21:29 GMT
Hi Mick:

The Streets were on in Leeds back in May I think it was...I saw them advertised but didn't go and see them as I was on the verge of taking my finals at uni. Yes, a sort of Estuary is used in the lyric but not quite the real thing....the lead uses a sort of Sarf Landun twang, wiv the words "you're fit". on the pull (but that is used everywhere anyway!) and bombed. Saying "you're fit" to a girl means she's gorgeous like, and not because she has a six pack.
Madder made of matter   Saturday, July 17, 2004, 00:29 GMT
''n addition, the "a" sound is different in the two words (definitely in my accent).''

mjd, I don't get it. The ''a'' sound is the same in those two words. ''madder'' [m@d..r] and ''matter'' is [m@t..r].

Mjd, do ''madder'' and ''ladder'' rhyme in your accent. And, what about ''matter'' and ''latter'', do they rhyme?

mjd, in Tom's chart, What sound are you talking about? There's only a symbol for one kind of ''a'' sound? I don't agree that ''matter'' and ''madder'' have much of a difference ''if any at all'' in their ''a'' sound.
mjd   Saturday, July 17, 2004, 06:02 GMT
See the other thread you started for my answer.
CalifJim   Monday, July 19, 2004, 05:00 GMT
Dan wrote:

<<I've been looking for a long time and i've never got to find the way to pronouce those [t and d ] sounds>>

Standard American English has the following ‘t’ sounds.

1. Aspirated t. (A strong 't' produced with a lot of noisy air.) Written “t” or “tt”. Used at the beginning of words, at the beginning of stressed syllables, and before ‘r’, but not after ‘s’. The aspirated 't' in the 'tr' combination, but not in 'str', is particularly strong, approaching the 'ch' sound in some speakers. Children have been observed writing "chruck" for "truck", for example. It is debatable whether this should be classified as another kind of 't' - Strongly Aspirated t.

Tomorrow, aTTention, preTentious, aTrophy, Try, maTTress, Telluric

But not in strap, first, last, step, strong, mister, ... (These are unaspirated 't's.)

There is a tendency in recent years to pronounce the 'str' combination as 'shtr'. I don't recommend that learners of English imitate this - even though the current president himself speaks this way.

2. Tapped t. (Sometimes called 'flapped t'.) Difficult to describe, this is the 't' which is often compared to the Spanish single 'r'. The difference is slight, hinging on the manner in which the tongue strikes just above the teeth. In the Spanish 'r', the tongue strikes from below, almost a glancing blow, an retracts instantaneously after a somewhat scraping motion. In the American tapped 't', the tongue begins a little higher, strikes quite directly, and is slightly slower to retract. This sounds to some like a 'd'. The 'd' as in "doe", however, has the tongue moving much more slowly with none of the quick springing back of the tapped t. Used when 't', 'tt', 'd', or 'dd' occurs between vowels, including R-colored vowels, at the end of a stressed syllable, moving into a less stressed syllable.

aTom, liTTer, barTer, laDDer, arTist, murDer, liTTle, quarTer, flaTTery

Exception: Tapped t is not used when syllabic 'n' follows. These are unreleased 't's and 'd's. (See next description.)

It is debatable whether this class should be subdivided further, the TT in liTTle, for example, being slightly different from the TT in buTTer, because of the preparation for the dark L sound in liTTLe. In short, there are subtle gradations of the tapped 't' which depend on context.

3. Unreleased t. This 't' is produced by bringing the tongue into the position for pronouncing a 't' and suddenly stopping the air flow, making the 't' nearly silent. Used primarily after a vowel at the end of words, but also at the end of syllables where it cannot form a blend like 'st', 'ft', 'nt', 'tr', ... Also used between a stressed vowel and syllabic 'n'.

aT, fiT, carroT, rioT
cuTlass, uTmost, buTler
kiTTen, gelaTinous, scruTiny, faTTen

Unreleased 'd' also exists, used before syllabic 'n'.

hiDDen, diDn't, haDn't, woulDn't, riDDance

4. Unaspirated t. This is the 't' of many European languages, e.g., Spanish. It is simply a 't' produced without a lot of extra air escaping between the teeth. Used in cases not covered by the 't's described above. This is also the 't' of the past ending "ed" when it occurs after unvoiced consonants, and the 't' in the 'st' and 'str' blends.

winTer, can'T, lasT, rafT, wishED, missED, wrappED, sTun, misTake, easTern, sTrike

1. Between 's' and 'l', 't' is silent: casTle, thisTle, tresTle, busTle. But "pestle" can be pronounced with silent 't' or unaspirated 't'. The 't's in "often" and "soften" are silent. The 't' in "Christmas" is also silent.
2. Between 'n' and a vowel, 't' is not pronounced in some words by some people. While non-standard, it is common with certain words, particularly "twenty" and "plenty" in faster speech. "Is that enough?" -- "Yes. Twenny is plenny." In some social contexts (casual, informal), emphasis of the 't's in "TwenTy is plenTy" would sound studied or pretentious.
3. When a 't' between vowels occurs between two relatively unstressed syllables, either tapped 't' or unaspirated 't' is possible. Use either. (varsiTy, polariTy) Because either may be used, you can distinguish between words like 'parity' and 'parody', or not, as you wish!
4. Careful. While tapped 't' is indistinguishable from tapped 'd' (biTTer, biDDer, liTTle, riDDle), unreleased 't' and unreleased 'd' are different sounds (biTTen, hiDDen; cuTely, ruDely, liTmus, caDmium). Practice "a hidden litter of little kittens".
5. In connected speech, the choice of 't' may depend on its position in the whole phrase, not just the word. For example, "aT a glance" has a tapped 't'. (aTa as if a single word) "noT one" has an unreleased 't', because the word "one" starts with the consonant sound "w", even though it is not written that way. But "noT a single one" has a tapped 't'.
6. The 'th' has nothing to do with the 't'. It is a different sound - unless the 'h' is not considered part of the 'th' combination, as in "Thomas" (aspirated 't').
7. The 't' in the 'tion' ending is not any of the 't's discussed above. It is a 'sh' sound (and a 'ch' sound after an 's'). The 't' in the 'ture' ending is likewise none of the 't's above. It is a 'ch' sound. (naTion, queSTion, naTure)
8. The main reason why some English speakers cannot manage the Spanish 'r' is not that there is no similar sound in English, because the tapped 't' comes very close. Rather, it is what is called "orthographic interference". It is difficult, after years of associating the sound (of tapped 't') with the symbol 't' or 'tt', to make the mind associate nearly the same sound with the symbol 'r' on the page. Orthographic interference is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to learning another language.
Jeff   Monday, July 19, 2004, 05:39 GMT
excelent answer,
i don't understand what mjd , dulcinea and don't remember who else
keep sayind that the d in day is the same that the d in madder,

the d in madder is a light d, like the taped r in spanish, while the d in day is a explosive sound .

mjd is from new jersey, well i live in noo yohk and i've been in contact with the garden state accent plenty of times and i've never heard somebody overpronounce d's that way..

Whenever you have t, tt, d, or dd between vowel and after an stressed syllable you make the tapped t sound. Like in latter, ladder, matter, madder.
Damian   Monday, July 19, 2004, 06:49 GMT
I notice many Americans hardly ever use capital letters for proper nouns or for the first personal pronoun I, I've, etc. Why is this?
mjd   Monday, July 19, 2004, 07:21 GMT

You said: "i don't understand what mjd , dulcinea and don't remember who else keep sayind that the d in day is the same that the d in madder"

You also said: "mjd is from new jersey, well i live in noo yohk and i've been in contact with the garden state accent plenty of times and i've never heard somebody overpronounce d's that way.."

Well, Jeff, I think you need to read through the thread a little more carefully...I never said anything of the sort. We were discussing the sound of the "a" in the words "matter" and "madder" and how it is different in my accent. As to what you were saying about "day" and "madder"....well, I agree with you.

In addition (not to seem rude or anything), you might want to heed Damian's advice.
Jordi   Monday, July 19, 2004, 07:24 GMT
<< I notice many Americans hardly ever use capital letters for proper nouns or for the first personal pronoun I, I've, etc. Why is this?
Could it be they've got to press an extra button on the keyboard to ensure capital letters? After all, I'm convinced they still teach the difference between common and proper nouns in 2nd grade all over the world. I'll tell you much the same happens amongst very young people in several other languages. You forgot to recall that sentences also begin with a capital letter.