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reduced final consonant clusters (dropped final /t/)
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darimana



Joined: 01 Oct 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 1:50 am    Post subject: reduced final consonant clusters (dropped final /t/) Reply with quote

Hi,

I am writing a paper about the way some ESL speakers (Indonesians primarily) drop the final /t/ sounds from consonant clusters at the end of words. I now Need some technical info from some of the experts out there. (EH, are you there?? I am particulary impressed with your knowhow!!!).

How do we describe what Native Speakers do (I am thinking standard Australian pronunciation, but happy to hear what you think of Native speech from UK and US too) when we pronounce /t/ in this position.
For example, in the word "salt" or in past tense verbs like "dropped", would you describe it that we aspirate the /t/ or not? Is it possible to describe degrees of aspiration? ie. do we give a subtle aspiration? Or is there a more technical word to describe how we produce the sound? I know its certainly not like the way we aspirate initial position /t/ (eg table), but we definitely release it, don't we????).

For the purpose of this question, curious to know if its any different if the words are in final sentence position or followed by a vowel sound (eg salt and pepper, dropped it).

I have been sitting here saying the words over and over to myself, but start to lose natural sounding speech after a while when you are analysing so much AND lack the real technical jargon to describe it anyway!

Indonesians and other speakers (eg Vietnamese) often do not produce the final /t/ at all when speaking English, and esp so with consonant clusters. What is the difference? Can I say they are using a glottal stop? Or is it just unreleased? And what is a retroflex /t/???

Sorry, I did say this was a bit technical! I am new to the deeper study of phonology and feeling a bit in over my head. Confused

Any advice and/or websites which might be helpful welcome!!!

THANKS!!!
(ps Have cross posted in the Indonesian forum in case some Indophiles have any hints)
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2005 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Take a look at this thread first:
http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=3165

And then see if you still have the same or different questions. I'm happy to discuss this (as you can see in the other post) but there isn't any reason to duplicate the exact discussion.

--Lorikeet
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darimana



Joined: 01 Oct 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks lorikeet!
i don't know how I missed that when I was browsing.....silly me, but yes, that does give me a much better understanding - although, i am still a little unclear about how you would describe what we do as native speakers.
i know as native speakers many of us don't aspirate the final /t/ but can we describe that we release it? And if we don't release it, then what is it we are doing? It is certainly different than completely failing to produce it....mmmm
And if you know what a retroflex /t/ is that'd be great (apparently Indonesian has it)
cheers
Very Happy
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it might be easier for you to see what you do with a final /p/ because the articulation is so visible. For me, a /p/ (or /t/) in final position (if there isn't a vowel next and no linking) has an articulation and that's the end of it. So if I just say the word "map," you will see that I finish with my lips together.

I think a retroflex /t/ is a t made by curling the tongue tip a little to the back and hitting the top of the mouth a little further back. (How difficult to explain in words!) I thought it was a sound found in some languages from India--Indian English always sounded to me like there was a retroflex t and d, but I don't know if that's right.
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darimana



Joined: 01 Oct 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Mon Oct 03, 2005 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks again Lorikeet.
The problem I have isn't SEEING it, it's explaining it (for a Uni paper)..... I have just written something that I think makes sense. I also checked a bit about retroflex /t/ and you're right. also, it's in javanese rather than Indonesian.
Thanks for your help.
XO
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi. I don't know what I can add that Lorikeet hasn't already said...

You asked about unreleased final /t/. I would agree that in words like Salt or Dropped the final /t/ may be released (aspirated) or not, depending on the sounds that come after it. For example, in the sentence "I love salt" you would probably touch your tongue tip or blade to the alveolar ridge, stop the flow of air, and then take the tongue down to a neutral position after there was no more air flowing (i.e., not releasing it). But in the sentence "I dropped out of school" the usual /t/ at the end of Dropped would get slightly voiced due to the influence of the vowel after it, and would be released as such, but not aspirated much. In a third type of sentence, for example "I dropped Terri's ball" the /t/ in Dropped would be aspirated as it was coarticulated with the /t/ in Terri. ...but in that case it's debatable as to whether the /t/ in Dropped and the /t/ in Terri exist as separate sounds in the first place... I don't know. I'm babbling. Feel free to PM me if you have any more specific questions.

Good luck,
-EH
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good explanation EH. Very Happy
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darimana



Joined: 01 Oct 2005
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks EH! What you've said confirms my own thoughts, makes me feel as though I am on the right track.
cheers
Very Happy
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Don McChesney



Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Posts: 11
Location: Zhengzhou

PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A different problem.
My Chinese students all hang on to the final consonant, so 'eat' becomes 'eater' with a short 'er', 'dog' is 'dogger' 'that' is 'thatter' etc.
I have to teach them that when a 't' or 'd' is followed by a consonant, to run the two words together, with no pause at all, eg ' the dog sat down' becomes 'the dogsatdown.' rather than .'the dogger satter down.' If the 't' or 'd' is at the end of a phrase, or followed by a vowel, to use the letter 'lightly' and clip the natural impulse. They have been previously taught by native Chinese English speakers, so have continued the problem.
Good luck with your work
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CEJ



Joined: 23 Dec 2005
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A word final [t] is often a glottal plosive. Since glottal sounds, like reduced vowel sounds, are not acknowledged in written forms of the language, they go largely unnoticed by native speakers, despite their great frequency. In the case of /t/--and /p/-- I find it interesting we should go from one extreme of the vocal tract to the other to make versions of these sounds. In terms of some of the articulation, they are out at the visible end of the mouth. But in terms of how the sounds get realized, they are way down in hidden territory, the glottis.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2005 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm It's too bad we can't hear what the other person is giving as examples. I think I use a glottal stop of sorts on the end of "can't," where it seems if I make the final sound a "cough" without the "t" articulation, it still sounds okay to me. However, in a word such as "cat," I definitely have the "t" articulation, although it seems I might understand if the glottal stop was there and the articulation absent. What happens, then, in the case of words like "bat" and "back?" I need the articulation to distinguish between them. (*Not* articulating the final /t/ or /k/ is one thing that makes it hard to understand which word my Cantonese speakers are saying.)

Perhaps I've misunderstood what a "glottal plosive" is, (It's been a long time since I took phonetics courses.) but I thought the "plosive" part was the puff of air that we have, for example in the beginning of words that start with voiceless stops. I don't see how that would apply here.
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CEJ



Joined: 23 Dec 2005
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Lorikeet wrote:
Hmm It's too bad we can't hear what the other person is giving as examples. I think I use a glottal stop of sorts on the end of "can't," where it seems if I make the final sound a "cough" without the "t" articulation, it still sounds okay to me. However, in a word such as "cat," I definitely have the "t" articulation, although it seems I might understand if the glottal stop was there and the articulation absent. What happens, then, in the case of words like "bat" and "back?" I need the articulation to distinguish between them. (*Not* articulating the final /t/ or /k/ is one thing that makes it hard to understand which word my Cantonese speakers are saying.)

Perhaps I've misunderstood what a "glottal plosive" is, (It's been a long time since I took phonetics courses.) but I thought the "plosive" part was the puff of air that we have, for example in the beginning of words that start with voiceless stops. I don't see how that would apply here.


Of course, linguistics, phonetics etc. are full of very technical sounding vocabulary, but often the terms are not precise at all or are used variably. The earlier example of 'retroflex' somehow being construed by some to mean a sound made behind the alveolar ridge while others have thought it meant, somehow, a twisting or curling of the tip of the tongue.

A plosive is perhaps best meant for a closure of the vocal tract that is suddenly released to make a consonant sound. A 'plosion' is the outward movement of air. It doesn't necessarily have to be aspirated (like a typical initial [p-] or [t-]). Your use of the word 'stop' is o.k., but linguistically speaking 'plosive' narrows it down. That's because a stop could be released either through plosion or implosion, the former being outward movement of air and the latter being inward movement of air.

I guess the question in the case of word final [-t], as in 'cat', is the stop only at one location? It seems to me we have constriction of the glottis and articulation of an alveolar [t], so we are stopping the vocal tract at two locations--again, a gestural view of pronunciation helps beyond segmental phonemes (especially if phoneme are construed to mean one place of articulation only, which they tend to be in TEFL).

In the case of 'can't' in normal speech, there is the further complication that the [n] sound is very similar in articulation to the [-t]. In American speech, the word seems to end nasally, in the glottis, and with a velarized [n] that is further back in the mouth because of the beginning [k] sound.

In the case of 'bat' and 'back', the [-k] stop in 'back' is realized well behind the [-t] in bat. In face to face communication, there is the additional clue of the visual configuration of the mouth. Back is going to finish with an open mouth, even though the [k] is a velar stop. The outward release of air, though, originates from behind the velum, which takes us down to the glottis again. Again, a gestural view helps to see it all happening together.


In Japan, many EFL learners can't hear the difference between an American saying 'can' with full stress and 'can't' in connected speech. Which can be rather dangerous if real communication is involved. I always check students who are going to the US to see if they can understand the difference between 1. I can [k'n] go AND 2. I can't go. Because they will often think they hear 'I can go' for number 2.
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

In Japan, many EFL learners can't hear the difference between an American saying 'can' with full stress and 'can't' in connected speech. Which can be rather dangerous if real communication is involved. I always check students who are going to the US to see if they can understand the difference between 1. I can [k'n] go AND 2. I can't go. Because they will often think they hear 'I can go' for number 2.


But there'll be cases that one wil stress the affirmative can, won't there?
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CEJ



Joined: 23 Dec 2005
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Metamorfose wrote:
Quote:

In Japan, many EFL learners can't hear the difference between an American saying 'can' with full stress and 'can't' in connected speech. Which can be rather dangerous if real communication is involved. I always check students who are going to the US to see if they can understand the difference between 1. I can [k'n] go AND 2. I can't go. Because they will often think they hear 'I can go' for number 2.


But there'll be cases that one wil stress the affirmative can, won't there?


Sure.

A: Can you go? (Possibly stressed, possibly not)
B: Yes, I can. (Always stressed as far as I know.)

But Japanese get confused over 'Yes' and 'No' because usually in Japanese, you use 'Yes' when agreeing to a negative statement (such as, Yes, I can't go). So I had students who thought I was saying, I can (stressed ) go when I was saying I can't go. Very dangerous. Of course, some forms of English have a vowel change to help distinguish can from can't when can is given stress, but my form of American English doesn't.
They have interference over saying 'yes' and 'no' but intereference doesn't always result in predictable errors. I think my students often just disregard the yes or no and try to listen to the rest of what is said, which is why thinking 'can't' when stressed sounds like 'can' when stressed is very problematic, to say the least. Imagine one of these students ending up in a homestay family in Canada or the US and not even being able to communicate such a daily sort of interaction.
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

But Japanese get confused over 'Yes' and 'No' because usually in Japanese, you use 'Yes' when agreeing to a negative statement (such as, Yes, I can't go). So I had students who thought I was saying, I can (stressed ) go when I was saying I can't go. Very dangerous.


Incredible, we have the same problem around here; people learning English here will use 'yes' to agree with a negative question.

A:Haven't you called Sally?
B:*Yes (but they mean "no...".)

But strangely they don't seem to have much problem (recognising at least) the stressed can and the negative can't; would that be because after all English and Portuguese belong to the same Indo-European group and Japanese is another language family? What people often do around here is merging the mid-open /E/ with /ae/, many people around here fail to distinguish bad from bed.

Quote:

Of course, some forms of English have a vowel change to help distinguish can from can't when can is given stress...but my form of American English doesn't.


I choose a British pattern to speak and teach English, so I use the same /a:/ vowel as in father when I say can't and I also use /a:/ over /ae/ before most /s/,/f/,/th-- voiceless/,/n/, now I see that many Americans are changing their vowels in words like after (with a very open front-vowel sometimes they release it as /a/ like Spanish abuela) have you seen this phenomenon?

Quote:

but my form of American English doesn't.


How do the Americans who distinguish can (stressed) and can't do? Do they change vowels like BBC English?

How do you classify your American accent? Southern/New England...?

Josť
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