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May I Quote You on That?

By Stephen Spector

A guide to English grammar and usage for the twenty-first century, pairing grammar rules with interesting and humorous quotations from American popular culture.

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Academic Paper

Title: The final future of t
Author: Michael Bulley
Institution: United Arab Emirates University
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Abstract: Will the final t become totally bottled up? It was about 15 years ago, I suppose, that I was told by an 18-year-old student that you shouldn't pronounce the final t in words like went. She meant in no circumstances. So struck was I by this that I reflected on my own practice, as a British English speaker, with such words. I decided that, in general, I released a final t before a following vowel, before a pause and before ‘soft’ consonants like h or w, but might sometimes keep it in before a ‘strong’ consonant, like m or b. So, I would say ‘I went away’, ‘What?’ and ‘That hospital’, but, pre-consonantal, either ‘He sent bottled water’ or ‘He sen’ bottled water’. You would, of course, refer also to words spelled with te at the end, like mate, as being pronounced with a final t.
Since that time, and particularly in recent years, I have noticed an increase in the non-released version of final t, pre-vowel or pre-pause, from BrE speakers in contexts where before I would not have expected it, as, for example, from BBC newsreaders.


This article appears IN English Today Vol. 25, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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