I'm wondering if all /t/ sounds which are at the end of a word are often omitted in British English when it is followed by a consonant when you are speaking normally fast?

As I've noticed that it seemingly occurs so frequently; such as "we stopped for petrol", "best-seller", "the test might be cancelled", "the last knight", "it's hard cheating", "I don't lie" and so.

And I'm particularly not sure about this one: "the test is over". Is this "the tesisover" or "the tes-tisover", when you speak as usual?

  • 1
    There isn't a cast-iron convention as such in British English: whether the sound is pronounced or not depends almost entirely on the region and accent of the person speaking. – John Clifford Mar 14 '16 at 19:59
  • Thanks for your suggestion, so is it common in either way? – gnoulv Mar 14 '16 at 20:03
  • It's pretty common to "cut off" a T sound where I'm from (northeast of Scotland) but as a general rule I don't think many British accents throttle it. I know a lot of English accents where the T sound is actually more pronounced. – John Clifford Mar 14 '16 at 20:05
  • Yes, I know there are accents and dialects aplenty. Do you, as a British, find it hard or maybe annoying to listen to a person who often drops or throttles the /t/? – gnoulv Mar 14 '16 at 20:15
  • Not at all, I do it all the time. :) – John Clifford Mar 14 '16 at 20:17

This arises when a final consonant is followed by word beginning with an alveolar consonant, for example a "d". Forgive my failure to use phonetic writing, I don't have a phonetic keyboard handy, but here are some examples:

"he's stopped" is pronounced "hisstopt"

the d changes to t because the preceding consonant is unvoiced

"he's stopped doing it" is pronounced "hisstop?doingit"

where the ? is a gluttal stop.

To answer the final part of your question, in informal spoken English, "test is" would be contracted to "test's" before any other thanges occur, so your sentence would go

"the test is over" pronounced as "thetestsover".

  • Is "thetestsover" pronounced as "thetes|sover"? ("|" is a flash pause). – gnoulv Mar 14 '16 at 20:26
  • @gnouvl: maybe after a few gin & tonics or when spoken quickly. I am willing to carry out tests on the former situation if required. In these two situations, the voicing of the o moves back to the preceding s and the t disappears, giving "theTessSover". The start of voicing creates a discontinuity but i don't think there is a pause, flash or otherwise. – JavaLatte Mar 14 '16 at 21:39
  • If you speak clearly and at a reasonable speed, you will only drop the consonants that are physically difficult to say. These are the ones that even BBC newsreaders drop. If you attempt to keep the difficult consinants, you will have to add a "schwa" -an a-sound- between the words, for example " I don'taknow" and then you will sound like a non-native speaker. – JavaLatte Mar 15 '16 at 5:38

Aside from the issues of accent that others have mentioned, it depends very much on how carefully one is speaking.

If I want to emphasise "stopped" for some reason, or if I am speaking very clearly (say, over a noisy phone connection), I will clearly pronounce the /t/. Normally, during the "stop" (vocal closure) of the /p/ my tongue will move to pronounce the /t/, but the consonant (cluster) will not be released, and my lips will move to form the /f/ and release the sound in that fricative. The /t/ sound is just barely audible as a transition between the /p/ and the /f/, so the cluster is /ptf/, but with only the final /f/ being released. In rapid speech, my tongue won't even get that far, and the cluster will be /pf/.

  • Yes, that's just exactly the point what I've always been confused at. Thank you – gnoulv Mar 15 '16 at 10:50

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