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devoicing of plosives in english Hi guys i study linguistics and languages ,right now I'm focusing on German and English . I know for sure that in German plosives in final position become voiceless (d-t,b-p,g-k) Hi noticed that it even in English there's at least a partial devoicing of plosives in final positions is it just my impression ,is it a regional thing or is it a rule?
Feb 1, 2016 11:42 PM
Answers · 6
I don't think so. In fact, this is how Germans, even those who have otherwise very good accents, give themselves away when they are speaking English. Many a fluent German speaker of English will betray his or her origins by inadvertently saying 'lap' instead of 'lab', for example. This doesn't happen with native English speakers. A 'b' at the end of a word is softer, less clearly articulated, and slightly less 'plosive' that when it occurs in initial or central positions, but it is never devoiced.
February 1, 2016
I think I know what you mean, but I'm not sure what the technical term is. We do reduce consonants at the ends of words, but the reduction isn't a loss of voicing. I have a hunch that the difference is aspiration, but I'll need feedback from someone who knows linguistics to confirm this. Here's a recording I just made. Can you hear the difference between the four pronunciations? I pronounced the word "cot" the "proper" way, and then the reduced way. Afterwards I did the same thing with "cod". You should hear four distinct ways of pronouncing the final consonant (otherwise they have the exact same pronunciation). If the final consonants of the reduced forms were unvoiced, then the reduced forms of "cot" and "cod" should be indistinguishable from each other, but you can still clearly hear the difference between the "t" and "d", even after reduction. In the recording you can hear that there's a puff of air after the "proper" forms that's missing in the reduced forms. The definition of aspiration is "the action of pronouncing a sound with an exhalation of breath", and that seems to fit pretty well.
February 2, 2016
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