[Ads-l] /d/ for flapped /t/

Paul A Johnston, Jr. paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Sat Nov 15 08:12:51 UTC 2014

What I see here is this, the old Bloomfieldian argument for archiphonemes: the distinction between /d/ and /t/ is neutralized under the flap intervocalically, so people can perceive it as a /d/ just as easily as they can as a /t/.  To my ear, the flap is too fast to be a true voiced stop.  I can produce a true /d/ intervocalically, but it does not sound like anything I (or other Americans)would use in everyday connected discourse.  Maybe if one had to ("I said LADDER, not LATTER.")  Otherwise, there's no difference in the consonant; any difference has to do with the allophony of the vowels before it.  I have [aI] in writer, but [AI] in rider, for instance.

And yet...I lived in Scotland, where, even among speakers who have approximants for /r/ in other positions, intervocalic /r/ is nearly always a flap, and yet. it sounded slightly different from my flapped /t/.  It sounded more "/r/-like", though I can't pin down what exactly that means.  It was probably my American English brain imposing a perception of difference.  I'd have to get the instruments out on that one. 

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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