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I used many online resources to find out how to correctly pronounce the ending /p/ in "Trump". Is it aspirated [pʰ] or is it just [p]?

Dictionaries don't answer this question because they include phonemic transcriptions, not phonetic, so they don't tell me which allophone to use.

  • 3
    Why do you think it's pronounced differently from trump ? – ColleenV parted ways Mar 7 '17 at 18:54
  • @ColleenV♦: Perhaps because when you get right down to the nitty-gritty, trump and triumph are essentially "the same word" (they're certainly cognate, in the sense of having the same etymological roots). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Mar 7 '17 at 19:02
  • @FumbleFingers I just think the question would be better if it explained why the dictionary entries for "trump" didn't help. – ColleenV parted ways Mar 7 '17 at 19:08
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    If you're referring to the current U.S. president, there are innumerable clips of him saying his own name (really, it's impossible to avoid them; I've tried). That is the best place to start when pronouncing anyone's name, as spelling is only loosely tied to pronunciation in English. – choster Mar 7 '17 at 19:54
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    @ColleenV I think that OP has some basic elementary knowledge of English phonemes and basically wants to know "Is the /p/ in /trʌmp/ aspirated. I don't understand exactly how a dictionary is going to help with that. Dictionaries only give phonemic information and do not say if a particular phoneme is going to be aspirated (or labialised or nasalised, or fronted, or backed, or palatalised or ejective). This seems to be a perfectly good question to me ... – Araucaria - Not here any more. Mar 7 '17 at 21:15
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In English aspiration is entirely conditioned by the phonetic context. Only voiceless stops (/p/,/t/,/k/) are aspirated, and these are only aspirated when they occur a) alone (that is, not as part of a consonant cluster) b before a stressed vowel.

Neither of these requirements is met in the name of our new Grand Orange: the /p/ occurs in the consonant cluster /mp/, and it occurs at the end of the syllable. Consequently, it's not aspirated.

In fact, in many contexts—at the end of a sentence, or even when a following stressed syllable begins with a vowel (e.g. "Trump oughta [whatever you want him to do]), which should cause the /p/ to act as the syllable onset—the /p/ won't be discernibly 'pronounced' at all: the /m/ has already effected its defining lip closure, and the glottal closure which accompanies stops for many speakers is likely to completely mask its release. But that doesn't matter: the closure will signal to any listeners that there should be a /p/ there, and that's what they will 'hear'.

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English /p/ will be strongly aspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable, as in the words:

  • pot, 'parrot, a'ppear

At the beginning of unstressed syllables, or at the end of a syllable, it will have only a very little aspiration. In other words we think of it as 'unaspirated':

  • 'happy, po'tato

When /p/ occurs at the end of a word in English it may have no audible release:

  • tap, shop, trump

When our lips come together to make the [p] in these words, the audible word will probably finish. We don't hear the lips coming apart again or the air from the [p] escaping.

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It doesn't matter. It could have no audible release, or moderate aspiration. It would not be extremely strongly aspirated.

John Wells' phonetic blog, a very useful resource for information about English pronunciation, has the following relevant post: VOT is more

Wells says the main positions where we consistently see no aspiration on English voiceless stops are immediately before other obstruents (stops or fricatives), or after tautosyllabic /s/. The main position we consistently see the strongest level of aspiration used in English is in the onset of a stressed syllable. In other contexts, the level of aspiration may vary depending on the accent, or even depending on the individual speaker or utterance.

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It's simply "p". The link is a video showing how to pronounce it.

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