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The "p" in "application" is unaspirated and the "p" in "apply" is aspirated since it is the first letter in the stressed syllable, am I right? When an unvoiced stop is the first letter of a stressed syllable, it should always be aspirated, correct? But for example in the word "excuse" since the second "k" is the second letter but not the first letter of the stressed syllable, I should pronounce it as an unaspirated sound, shouldn't I? I mean in the word "excuse" the first "k" should be aspirated and the second "k" should be unaspirated, right?

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Ex-, especially at the beginning of words, is special.

Excuse is pronounced like it's spelled "ek-scuse", as though the first half the x (the /k/) belongs to the first syllable and the other half (the /s/ half) belongs to the second.

The first /k/ won't be aspirated, the c will be.

  • If the /s/ really is at the beginning of the second syllable, then the 'c' (second /k/) willnot be aspirated!! – Araucaria Dec 18 '17 at 14:03
  • Pronounce it and hold your hand to your mouth, you sure you aren't feeling a small puff of air from aspiration? It's hardly as strongly aspirated as at the beginning of a word (like cut) but most English consonants are aspirated at least a little bit much of the time. They don't sound like say Spanish or Russian with hardly any aspiration. – LawrenceC Dec 18 '17 at 14:08
  • There's a little experiment you can do to see if there's any aspiration, but it won't work for /k/ 'cuz it's too far back in the mouth. You can try it with /p/ though. Rip a long narrow strip of paper off a page, hold the top and hang the lower edge in front of your lips. Now say pie loudly. The paper will get pushed sharply by the aspiration. Now say spy loudly. You'll find that the paper hardly moves because there isn't any aspiration. Now try press and express. You'll see the same effect. An /s/ at the beginning of a syllable prevents any aspiration on a following /p, t/ or /k/. – Araucaria Dec 18 '17 at 14:22
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    @DereMemo No, the first /k/ isn't aspirated because it is at the end of a syllable (plosives in ends of syllables aren't aspirated). The /p/ in spy isn't aspirated, because it is preceded by an /s/. – Araucaria Dec 18 '17 at 14:44
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