Dropping the T in a Game of Twen(t)y Questions

16926192_a1eab8db27_oIn my 20-day Fast Speech Challenge, I ended up spending the most editing time on Day 17: Dropping the T. In fact, I pulled the original video and reloaded it after adding some clarification and new examples.

Can you easily explain why we lose the T in center and Internet in fast speech? I  noted the N-T combo, but it goes beyond that. At first, I focused on stressed syllables (CEN-ter and IN-ter-net), but then I thought of international and sentimental and realized I’d have to get into secondary stress, so then I called attention to the following unstressed syllable. That simplified matters: we can drop the T after N and before an unstressed vowel sound. CEN(t)er/ IN(t)ernet/ in(t)erNAtional/ sen(t)iMEN(t)al

When else do have a choice of keeping a T or dropping it? In my opening example, I used often. Later I mentioned T as a middle consonant, as in concepts and just thinking.

The confusing thing is that in some  words the T is always silent, so we write it, but drop it in our pronunciation. If you want to see how familiar your students are with silent and dropped Ts, try using my Twenty Questions_handout. You might use the list as a listen-repeat exercise before actually pairing up for Q&A.  You can model either slow, careful pronunciation or faster, more relaxed pronunciation.

 

Photo credit:

Question by Cesar Bojorquez. (May 2005) Retrieved from the Creative Commons on Flickr.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sam Watson says:

    Hello,teacher Jenifier. I have a question concerning plural nouns,e.g. trousers,shorts, scissors and the like. Now,does the word ‘ trousers ‘ mean one piece only or more than one trousers as well?

    1. Hi Sam. Good question. Trousers and pants are similar. We use them in the plural, but to specify the number we use “pair”: a pair of trousers, two pairs of trousers, one pair of pants, etc.
      We can refer to a collection using the same word: Excuse me. Where are the men’s trousers? / We have a wide selection of women’s pants.
      Does that make sense?

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