American English Phonetics

Another American English Faculty Project

Voiceless obstruents are voiced before voiced stops, i.e. /p,t,k; f,s,ʃ,x/ become /b,d,g; v,z,ʒ,(ɣ)/ before /b,d,(g)/.

/p/ becomes /b/                       opdracht, abdij

/t/ becomes /d/                        voetbal, bloedbank

/k/ becomes [g]                       zakdoek, ik ben

/f/ becomes /v/                        leefbaar, afdak

/s/ becomes /z/                       frisdrank, huisbaas

/ʃ/ becomes /ʒ/                        finishdoek, douchebak

Voicing of /x/ (becoming /ɣ/) only occurs in Southern Dutch accents. Examples are lachbui, wegdek, nog drie.

Instead of regressive voicing, many speakers have progressive devoicing of /d/ in function words like de, die, deze, dat, daar. Examples are /ɔp ˈtɪ mənir, ʋɑt ˈkɔs tɑt, ʋɑt ˈmutɑtaˑr/ for op die manier, wat kost dat?, wat moet dat daar?.

In some areas, the fricatives /f,s,ʃ/ may also be voiced before sonorants, as in wijsneus, mislukt, afrekenen /ˈwɛiznøˑs, mɪzˈlʏkt, ˈɑvreˑkənə/.

Advice for Dutch learners

Remember that fortis stops tend to be glottalized before a following consonant in GA, and that lenis obstruents are initially devoiced after a voiceless sound. Compare AN /ˈfudbɑl/ (or /ˈvudbɑl/) with GA /ˈfʊtbɑːl/, which is variably [ˈfʊt͜ʔb̥ɑːɫ, ˈfʊp͜ʔb̥ɑːɫ] or [ˈfʊʔb̥ɑːɫ]. So make sure you pronounce a glottalized (or, for /t/, a glottaled) fortis stop in words like football, background, and a strongly articulated voiceless fricative in words like baseball [ˈb̥eɪsb̥ɑːɫ]. This will normally cause the following lenis stop to be initially devoiced, as it should be.