The American T
The American T is influenced very strongly by intonation and its position in a word or phrase. It can be a little tricky if you try to base your pronunciation on spelling alone.
There are, however, 4 basic rules: [T is T], [T is D], [T is Silent],
[T is Held].
1 Beginning of
a Word [T is T]
If the T is at the beginning of a word (or the top of the staircase), it is a strong, clear T sound.
In the beginning of a word: table, take, tomorrow, teach, ten, turn Thomas tried two times.
With a stressed T and ST, TS, TR, CT, LT and sometimes NT combinations: They control the contents.
In the past tense, D sounds like T, after an unvoiced consonant sound — f, k, p, s, ch, sh, th (but not T).
picked [pikt], hoped [houpt], raced [rast], watched [wächt], washed [wäsht]
It took Tim ten times to try the telephone.
2 Middle of a Word [T is D]
If the T is in the middle of the word, intonation changes the sound to a soft D.
Letter sounds like [ledder].
Water, daughter, bought a, caught a, lot of, got a, later, meeting, better
Practice these sentences:
|What a good idea.||[w'd' güdäi deey']|
|Put it in a bottle.||[pü di di n' bäd'l]|
|Get a better water heater.||[gedda bedder wäder heeder]|
|Put all the data in the computer.||[püdall the dayd' in the k'mpyuder]|
|Patty ought to write a better letter.||[pædy äd' ride a bedder ledder]|
3 [T is
T and N are so close in the mouth that the [t] can disappear.
If the T is at the end of a word, you almost don't hear it at all.
With -tain, -tten and some TN combinations, the T is held. The "held T" is, strictly speaking, not really a T at all. Remember, [t] and [n] are very close in the mouth. If you have [n] immediately after [t], you don't pop the [t]—the tongue is in the [t] position, but your release the air for the [n] not the [t]. Make sure you don't put a schwa before the [n]. An important point to remember is that you need a sharp upward sliding intonation up to the "held T," then a quick drop for the N.
Written, certain, forgotten, sentence: