Is the T tapped (flap) in the compound noun: heart attack? I'm talking about the T in the word "heart".


The /t/ in heart will become a voiced tap in the string heart attack for many speakers of American Englishes. This means that the compound nouns heart attack and hard attack will be homophones. The /d/ in hard attack will also become a tap in this position for many speakers.

Syllable final /t/ is liable to become a tap for such speakers when at the end of a syllable and surrounded by vowels, or if preceding a vowel and following a voiced sonorant, in other words after a nasal or the liquid, /r/.

[In case anyone is wondering what a hard attack is, it's when we use a glottal stop before a word beginning with a vowel!]

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  • Hard atTACK. HEART attack. Usually. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 14 '15 at 13:00
  • @TRomano If hard was a real adjective here that is indeed what you'd get. But it isn't here though, it's part of a compound noun. Compare a greenhouse with a green house, or I'm going to the white house with I'm going to the White House! – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 14 '15 at 13:26
  • @TRomano Or a jacket which is burning, a smoking jacket, with a type of jacket for smoking in: a smoking jacket :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 14 '15 at 13:27
  • I wasn't clear. I was saying that the accent falls differently. What we need in the second half is a hard atTACK, said the football coach. He has suffered a HEART attack. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 14 '15 at 17:08
  • 1
    I do agree that "heart attack" is a dactyl. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 14 '15 at 17:34

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