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Unit 29. Last Night, I haven't Seen Her.

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Leaving Out Consonant Sounds (1): /t/

Unit 29; Part A

Some consonant sounds tend to be left out in conversation. For example:
       I was almost left behind.    I practised football with him.

Units 29 and 30 look at some of the most common consonant omissions. It is not necessary to leave these out in your own speech in order to be understood, but leaving them out can make your speech sound more fluent and natural, and being aware of these changes can help you understand fast speech.
 
 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
When a word with a fnal consonant cluster ending /t/ is followed by another word beginning with a consonant sound, /t/ is often left out (see also Unit 9):
Last night. 
He was left behind. 
He stopped breathing. 
Just act normal. 
It kept still.
I collect coins.
    
Notice, however, that -
  • we don't usually leave out /t/ before a vowel sound or /h/:
    First of May.    You've bent it.    She's left handed.
  • when the final consonant cluster is /skt/ we often leave out /k/ before a vowel and /h/, and may leave out both /k/ and /t/ before a consonant. Compare:
    I asked Oliver. (.../a:stol/...)    He risked his life. (.../rιstιz/...)
    I asked Brian.
    (.../a:sbr/...)    He risked losing. (.../rιslu:/...)
 

Unit 29; Part B

In the informal speech of some speakr a /t/ sound is commonly replaced by a glottal stop (Δ), a sound made by stopping the flow of air by closing the vocal cords. This change only happens at the end of a syllable and when the sound before /t/ is a vowel, /l/, /m/ or /n/.
In particular, it is used -
  • within or at the end of a word when the next syllable or word begins with a consonant sound:
    football (.../uΔb/...)    pointless (.../nΔl/...)
    Late at night. (.../∂Δn/...)   You're quite right. (.../aιΔr/...)
  • at the end of a sentence:
    Give me that. (.../dæΔ/)     It costs a lot. (.../loΔ/)

note.jpgNote: Replacing /t/ with a glottal stop is found in Britain particularly in the accents of cities, but is also increasingly becoming part of the accents of educated young people. In some regional accents glottal stops replace /t/ even when the next syllable or word begins with a vowel sound, for example:
/bΔ∂/ (butter) , /ma:Διn/ ( Martin ) , /noΔ∂υnli/ ( not only )

However, some people still consider this to be lazy speech .

Unit 29; Part C

 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
When a word ending with /t/ is followed by a word beginning with /j/ ('y'), the /t/ + /j/ is usually pronounced /t∫/ (as in 'cheap'):
     Has he left yet?    Last year.
                        /t∫/               /t∫/

However. /t/ may also be replaced by a glottal stop, depending on the sound befor /t/
(see B):
     I can't let you do it. (.../let∫u:/... or .../leΔju:/...)

/t/ may change its pronunciation before consonants in other ways to make it easier to move to the next sound
(see also Unit 26B):
    It's not me. (/t/ sounds like /p/)    In the front garden. (/t/ sounds like /k/)
 

 



Exercises

flag.jpgSay these sentences aloud and cross out any letters representing /t/ at the end of words that you think are likely to be left out.
Key.1    He wrote it.
2    A published article.
3    It's in first gear.
4    It was just him.
5    Take a left turn.
6    They kept quiet.
7    It looked good.
8    We reached Berlin.
9    We crossed over.
10  I'll contact Ann.
11  He finished first.
12  I slept badly.

Example: Next Monday.
1    He wrote it.
2    A published article.
3    It's in first gear.
4    It was just him.
5    Take a left turn.
6    They kept quiet.
7    It looked good.
8    We reached Berlin.
9    We crossed over.
10  I'll contact Ann.
11  He finished first.
12  I slept badly.

Now listen, check your answers and repeat.
flag.jpgListen to these sentences and focus on the highlighted /t/ sounds. Write the number of the sentence in the table below according to what happens to the /t/ sound.
Key.A: 3, 8, 11, 15
B: 1, 5, 9, 12
C: 4, 6, 14, 16
D: 2, 7, 10, 13

1    Almost there.   
2    Have you passed your test?        
3    I asked her to leave.   
4    Just a bit.   
5    We must be nearly there.  
6    Tell us what you did.   
7    Most Europeans agree.   
8    I expect an answer soon.    
9      She stopped playing.
10    Next year.
11    My left ankle hurts.
12    I'll have a soft drink.
13    Just use your common sense.
14    I've already dealt with it.
15    I washed all my clothes.
16    I can't wait.

A no change to /t/  
В /t/ left out            
С /t/ replaced with
glottal stop              
D /t/ + /j/ said /t∫/   
   1

 

 

 2
  
Check you  answers in the Key. Then say the sentences aloud as they are said on the recording.
flag.jpg29.1.jpgAll the possible /t/ sounds in this conversation are in bold. Read the conversation and predict any likely omissions, replacements or changes to the /t/ sounds, using the four categories (A, B, C and D) in exercise 2.

Key.29.9.jpg
           D          C
A: What I you got there?
B: It's Don Simpson's latest novel. Have you read it?
A: Bought it just the other day.
B: I don't think it's as good as his first.
A: Don't you? But then that was really tremendous.

Now listen and check your predictions.

Follow up: If you have internet access, find recordings of people with regional English accents. Can you find speakers who very frequently replace /t/ with a glottal stop?

 
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