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when you pronounce the phrase: "Sleep tight." do you stress both words equally? Is the 't' aspirated when the word "tight" is pronounced or it doesn't need to be aspirated?

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  • The words are spoken with pretty much equal stress (spondaic), though there can be rising intonation (not stress) on tight,
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 13:09

2 Answers 2

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Both words would be stressed here. The first /t/ in tight would be aspirated. The second would have no audible release in normal speech.

The /p/ will have no audible release either. It will be masked. By the time we release the /p/, the blockage for the /t/ will have already been formed and will be preventing all the air behind the tongue from leaving the mouth. The air released from the /t/ will have been been building up behind this blockage during the hold phase of the /t/. It is during this hold phase, not the /p/ one, that the air pressure in the mouth will be increasing for the powerful release of the plosive.

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  • Maybe it's just a technical term I'm not familiar with, but I'm not sure what you mean by an "audible release". For me (British, native, south-east) both 't's in "tight" would be audible - "no audible release" sounds to me like it'd be a glottal stop or something similar (which depends on the accent).
    – Jez W
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 14:20
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    @JezW "No audible release" doesn't mean that you don't hear the consonant. It just means that you don't hear the air trapped by the blockage being forcefully released. So if you say tight really carefully and enunciate that last 't' there, you'll clearly hear the end of the consonant (although that's rather simplifying what's actually going on). But in normal speech when a /t/ is at the end of an utterance, you won't hear the air escape at the end of the /t/. We really just hear the first half of the consonant ... Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 14:28
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    @JezW ... The air that was blocked behind the /t/ just dissipates out through your nose, back into you lungs and so forth and the air pressure in your mouth goes back to normal. Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 14:29
  • As far as I can tell, it'd be enunciated for me much of the time in normal speech too. But it's hard to tell for sure, and likely depends on accent again.
    – Jez W
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 14:33
  • @JezW It'll definitely depend on individual speakers too. Some people eject more than others in that environment ... :) Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 22:20
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You pronounce the word "sleep" and then you pronounce the word "tight", just as you would if they occurred in some other context. Yes, the final "t" on "tight" is aspirated normally. The two words are given equal stress.

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  • Depends on dialect. In North American English at least the final T in "tight" goes unreleased. Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 16:33

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