Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tricks of American T sound 2. – Glottal stop



In the previous post, I introduced the Flap T with the help of Jennifer’s video channel and I also mentioned Rachel’s and Mandy’s materials. It means that sound T can be pronounced as a soft D sound in specific situations (between vowels – or sound L and R, when it’s not stressed). T can be interesting in other occasions as well. You can hear something interesting when an American says these words: button, written, Clinton, mountain, fountain, sentence. In the dictionaries, you can see the “official” pronunciation of the “-ton”, “-ten” or “-tain” is /- tən/ or /-tən/ or /-tn/, but you can hear something else. This is called a glottal stop.

Glottal stop is a kind of noise that you also can produce. Let’s see how Mandy explains the glottal stop:
“Welcome to the glottal stop. The glottal stop is the sound in the middle of the word uh-uh. It is kind of a non-sound sound. I can't create a glottal stop by itself; it needs sounds around it or it doesn't sound like anything at all. Listen to uh-oh. Uh-oh. Do you hear that stop in the middle? Uh-oh.
A glottal stop occurs when the vocal folds are briefly closed. This can be a very difficult action to force because the vocal folds are way down in our throats. It is also really difficult to feel a glottal stop when it happens. When I teach the glottal stop in class, I work up to creating words.
    Say the word oh-oh. Can you do it? Uh-oh.
    Now try replacing the oh with an n sound. It will sound like uh-n. Can you do that? uh-n.
    Now add a b sound to the beginning of the word. Button. Can you do that? Button.
That is how we say the word button, b-u-t-t-o-n. Now, I want to also note that I am not adding any vowel between the glottal stop and the n sound, even though there is an o spelled there.”

“The letter t is pronounced as a glottal stop /ʔ/ (the sound in the middle of the word uh-oh) when it follows a vowel, n sound, or r sound (including all r-controlled vowels) and is followed by an n sound, schwa+n sound, m sound, or non-syllablic l sound.
The glottal stop is transcribed as /ʔ/.”

 

I have to tell you again that the glottal stop is not mandatory, but it’s important to recognize. I have to add that even British people also produce glottal stop  but rules are different. This is the very first British English video that I have referred to.  Pay attention how the British English sounds. It’s also nice, but I still prefer American English.



How is it symbolized? Generally even the dictionaries don’t show glottal stop. The IPA symbol is /ʔ/ so the word button can be pronounced as /ˈbʌʔn/. The Longman Dictionary of American English uses another symbol. Let’s see the word button: /ˈbʌt˺n/. In my opinion, in order to symbolize glottal stop is better with /t˺/ rather than with /ʔ/. Why? The symbol /ʔ/ can be confusing if someone is not very familiar with IPA symbols. Considering /t˺/ symbol, what can happen? If someone is not familiar with this, he or she probably will say a 'T' sound. As I told you earlier, saying the “True” T sound rather than the Glottal stop is totally acceptable.

I also recommend Jennifer’s 


 and Rachel’s videos on this topic.


Well, we have one additional part about tricks of American T sound, but beforehand I hope I can post the interview with Kate.
Kate was very kind to review this blog post. She’s still searching for new students on her Italki profile. 

Please visit my Facebook page or in this Facebook group.

Bye-bye,

Attila 

1 comment:

  1. thank you a lot . .
    indeed i couldn't pronounce it correctly although how hard i try :(
    i wanna be perfect in this one !

    ReplyDelete