B1 Intermediate US 38821 Folder Collection
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In this American English pronunciation video, we're going to take a look at the question: 
is the Flap T really a D sound?
It's not unusual for people to ask my why I say the flap T is a D sound. They will
say it's not the same as a D sound in, for example, day. My answer to them: you're
right. But, the Flap T, or T between vowels, is the same as a D between vowels. So
basically what I'm saying, is that a D between vowels is not the same sound as the D in other
cases, though they both use the same IPA symbol. Let's take a look at an example word: dad.
For that beginning D, there is a stop: dd, dd. D is a stop consonant, so I let air
build up a little bit in my throat -- dd, dd, dd -- and then release it.  It's the
same with a D at the end of the word, though a little more subtle.  Dd, dd, Dad-d-d-d,
but you can still hear, dad-d-d, there is a stop. Well, let's take a slightly different
word, Daddy. Now we have a D sound between two vowels. Daddy, Daddy. I'm going to stretch
out the vowel sound before and after to make that D more noticeable. Daaaaaadyyyy.
Did you hear a stop? There wasn't one. Daaaaaadyyyy. Between vowels, or after an
R and before a vowel, it's a different sound, because there isn't a stop. If I pronounced
both D's with a stop it would sound like this: dad-dy. But it doesn't. It sounds like
daddy, uhh, no stop in the airflow. This is true of the Flap T as well.
As I said before, if you look up the word 'daddy' in a dictionary, both of the D sounds,
though different, will have the same symbol.
This is why I have chosen to say the that Flap T is just like the D sound --- it is
like one kind of D sound, the D between vowels. So, matter = madder. Pronounced the same
way. When we pronounce a T or D this way, it smooths out speech. It takes out a stop,
which is why you'll hear so many Americans flap their T's. We love to smooth out the
So, this was a long explanation about why I use the [d] symbol for a Flap T. The most
important thing to take from this video, though, is that both T and D between vowels, or after
an R and before a vowel, don't have a stop component. They do not interrupt the flow
of the line, they smooth out the speech.
One last comment. Sometimes, regarding the Flap T, I'll get a comment from a student:
that sounds like an R sound to me. It is an R sound? Well, depending on your native
language, yes, it is. The al-VEE-uh-ler flap is in many languages, usually represented
by the letter R. For example, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, to name
a few. So you may ask, why don't I use that IPA symbol? Two reasons: you won't see
that symbol in dictionary of American English. And, I'm not fluent enough in any of those
languages, to say: yes, definitely, I know it is absolutely the exact same movement of
the tongue, touching exactly the same spot at the roof of the mouth. So whether it is
exactly the same sound or just very close, it may be very useful for you to think of
the Flap T or D between vowels as the R sound from your native language. But, just keep
in mind that it is not at all related to the R sound in American English. RRRR, where
you can hold out that sound, and the front part of the tongue must not touch the roof
of the mouth.
That's it, and thanks so much for using Rachel's English.
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Flap T: Really a D Sound? American English Pronunciation

38821 Folder Collection
Sofi published on May 29, 2014
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