American English Phonetics

Another American English Faculty Project

In words like winter, center, Atlantic, in which ambisyllabic /t/ follows /n/, a number of rules can apply:

  1. Flapping can apply after (nasalization and) nasal deletion. GA /wɪntər/ becomes [wɪ᷈tər], and, because ambisyllabic /t/ is now between vowels, then becomes [wɪ᷈ɾər].
  2. t/d-deletion may apply to produce [wɪ᷈nər]. In practice, because the nasalization is likely to be maintained during the flap, the members of pairs like winterwinner will tend to be homophonous in unguarded speech.

Notice also in this connection that the following two utterances are distinct because of the /æ/ – /ə/ opposition in can’tcan:

you can’t eat it – [jəkæ᷈ɾiːɾɪt]

you can eat it – [jəkən iːɾɪ]

However, the following two sentences would be (near-)homophonous.

But you can’t eat it! – [bətʃəˈkæ᷈ɾiːɾɪt]

But you can eat it! – [bətʃəˈkæ᷈n iːɾɪt]