I am like 99% sure that Americans do what I said in the title, but I wanted ask you anyway. My question is: When a word ends with /rd/ after a vowel and when the next word starts with a vowel, also in the situations when /rd/ is between two vowels in a word, Americans usually make a "flap d" sound which is the exact same sound as the "flap t" sound, right? I know that the /t/ of /rt/ (like in the word "party") is flapped in those positions I mentioned but I am not 100% percent sure if the same thing happens to the /d/ of /rd/ too.

For example the /d/ sounds in the sentences like "This bird is so beautiful" , "Was that show aired in USA too?", "I never heard of him" etc. are the same exact flap sounds as the /d/ sounds in the sentences like "This part of the game is very hard", "This is sort of crazy", "I never hurt anybody" etc right?(As I said, I know that Americans make a flap in the sentences like "This is sort of crazy" which include "rt", but I am not %100 percent sure if they make a flap sound in the sentences like "This bird is so beautiful" as well which include "rd" instead of "rt".)

Or the /d/ sounds in the words "skateboarding", "ordinary", "herder", "order", "hurdle" etc. are exactly the same as the /d/ sounds in the words like "party", "mortal", "turtle", "quarter" etc. aren't they?(As I said, I know that Americans make a flap in the words like "party", "mortal" etc which include "rt", but I am not %100 sure if they make a flap in the words like "order", "herder" etc. too which include "rd" instead of "rt".)

I am used to making the flap sound instead of the standard "d" sound in those situations(unless the /d/ is the first sound of a stressed syllable) and it mostly sounds natural to me. If I make a standard /d/ sound(like the /d/ sound in the word "day") in the words and sentences I gave("order", "skateboarding", "This bird is so beautiful" etc), I don't sound like an American native English speaker, right?

  • It seems this issue is still unresolved but I'd just like to add one more potentially irrelevant comment for practical purposes. If you are to the point with your pronunciation that something minor like this is even noticeable, you will probably not be perceived as having a non-native accent. You might appear to be speaking carefully but that does not seem foreign.
    – G-Cam
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 0:44
  • Growing up in Idaho, and now living in Canada, 'party' and 'pardy' are very different. I would consider someone who changed t's to d's to either being careless or having too many beer. Commented Aug 24, 2018 at 14:57
  • @Sherwood Botsford Well, according to many Americans, they are the same. And from what my ears tell me, they are the same. Commented Aug 26, 2018 at 21:19

2 Answers 2


The flap (which is written as "ɾ" in the IPA) is an allophone of both "d" and "t" in North America, among other places. An allophone is one of the continuum of sounds that we perceive as a certain "ideal" phoneme, a deviation from this ideal. There will be different extents of deviation depending on the speed with which one is talking, regional differences (e. g. Californians would be more guilty of flapping than someone from New York or Kansas), formality of speech, etc.

I, for example, am hearing a distinct "d" in "according" in this video (0:38) and, e. g. in "heard and" in this video (3:39)

So, there will certainly be more flapping in AmE generally compared to RP in BrE, but it's not like you'll suddenly and definitely be outed as a foreigner as soon as you sound one good "d" in these positions.

  • Are you American? And do you think that I do not do wrong by flapping the "d"s in the words and sentences I gave like "order", "herder", "This bird is so beautiful" etc? By the way, to me, in those videos the guys are making flap sounds. Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 22:18
  • No, I'm not American, but I'm a trained phoneticist (actually taught German phonetics at a university that is around the 500th rung in the world rating of universities—and yes, German is not English, but I have a trained ear and have actually worked with Americans more than with the Germans (I'm a native Russian/Ukrainian speaker)). Again, the sound in "skateboarding" right at the beginning of this video is too plosive to be considered a flap.
    – user68912
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 22:52
  • @DereMemo An American above (the first guy to answer) has told you he hears a difference, and I've been actually trying to dissuade him from the notion that there's too much of a difference there. But for examples that you provided, many more real-life examples can be found where there will be less lenition than you allege.
    – user68912
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 22:54
  • But I think that it is not wrong if I make a flap sound in the situations and the examples I mentioned. Don't you agree with me? Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 22:55
  • Yes, you are not wrong. It's just that flapping is not obligatory.
    – user68912
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 22:56

I'm not very well versed in linguistics so pardon my crude answer but here are my observations.

I do not agree that the t in "party" (or most of the other words you mentioned) is pronounced with the /d phoneme. As a native American English speaker, I hear a distinct difference between between the "t" words and the "d" words you've included (with the exception of "turtle". It is extremely difficult to NOT pronounce the bold "t" with the /d sound.)

I think you could make the case that in rapid speech, the distinction becomes less clear, but in slow speech, it is definitely present.

I also am not sure I can agree with the sounds you are calling "flaps". The only "flap" I know of for certain is the "tt" in "butter" and your examples do not sound like that to me. Also, when I pronounce "butter", my tongue hits the post-alveolar ridge in my mouth rapidly and drops straight down. When I pronounce most of the words/sentences you've provided, my tongue comes extremely close to contacting the alveolar ridge and slides forward. I think those motions are too different to be considered the same.

I think what you are hearing might be better conceived of as differences in aspiration. When /t is between vowels or preceded by /r and followed by a vowel, it becomes somewhat difficult to aspirate it and it sounds softer (for lack of a better term) and easier to mix with whatever is next. I'm not certain I've answered your question but please let me know what else you'd like to know in the comments.

  • Cognitive science would question the fact that when you hear a difference between d and t, this difference was actually there. Case in point (and another example. Now, in these cases you are actually noticing that the text is garbled. However, I can't tell you how many times I've overlooked small typos when proofreading something because just that one letter out of place totally doesn't register. [continued]
    – user68912
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 21:33
  • The human mind "restores" things to how they should be in the general pattern that they are recognizing. A phoneme is an abstraction that in real life is a continuum of "allophones". Chandler Bing's "duty-doodie" pun wouldn't be possible if there were always a clear distinction between d and t.
    – user68912
    Commented Jan 30, 2018 at 21:35
  • 1
    @tenebris2020 I do not doubt anything you say. It's entirely possible that my head corrects the word so fast that it sounds different even though it is not. Nevertheless, I can detect a distinct difference in tongue position between "hearty" and "hardy". "Hearty" is spoken with the absolute tip of the tongue on the alveolar ridge and "hardy" with a position slightly farther back on the tongue contacts the ridge. Maybe those are similar to be considered the same for practical purposes. But they are not and I think it's reasonable to assume they sound different.
    – G-Cam
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 13:46
  • 1
    And I'm taking this to mean that in the first case, you are reducing the "t" to a flap, and in the second, you aren't (which is what we are both trying to tell the OP). Because "ideal" [t] and "ideal" [d] only differ through voicing, not through the location where your tongue lands.
    – user68912
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 13:50

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