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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.

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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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