Phonological and Social Constraints of t/d Deletion
English communication has been a part of everyone`s daily lives. Ithas transformed the way people interact and connect with each other.As such, considering the English Language as the universal element ofpublic communication, being a proficient English speaker, writer,interpreter etc. are some factors to be addressed in order to gain adecent and better interaction with other persons. Moreover, theaccuracy, accent, and clarity of an individual`s English speakingskills and proficiency have become the major components for anefficient and effective communication.
One sub-component that is essential for a useful and meaningful kindof communication is the English accent. An English accent is a formor a process of understanding and interpreting the language and soundof the English language. Major components of the English accentinclude proper pronunciation of words, correct intonation and wordstresses, as well as the loudness and softness of pronouncing variouskinds of words. As such, the coverage of this paper focused more onthe correct and proper pronunciation of words, particularly onstressing the sounds of `t` and `d` as some English words haveomitted and neglected these kinds of sounds.
There are actually different ways of pronouncing different kinds ofwords, depending on your accent and way of speaking. Some accentomitted sounds such as `Wes` instead of `West`, while some haveremain the way it is usually pronounced. Such form of omitting `t`and `d` sounds are called t/d variation or t/d deletion. In anEnglish accent, a coronal stop that appears as last member of aword-final consonant group is subject to variable deletion, as in thecase of `t` and `d`. According to Tamminga & Fruehwald, t/ddeletion is not treated as a uniform phenomenon, but as an output ofthree distinguished procedures: allomorphy in semi-weaksphonological deletion in all past tense forms and phonologicaldeletion in monomorphemes (27). Common examples of a grammaticalstatus of t/d deletion include: `fast` for monomorphemes `kept` forsemi-weak and `worked` for a regular past tense forms (Tamminga &Fruehwald, 7). Each of these procedures have distinct characteristicswhich have provided a brief explanation on the causes being portrayedby the omittance of variable sounds.
According to Baker, `t` and `d` coronal stops have similarcharacteristics with that of `p` and `k`, such that various wordstresses can be established to expound the sounds of the consonantsyllables (1). `d` deletion emphasizes more on voiceless coronalstops, whereas `t` deletion is replaced by either glottal stop (?) orintervocalic flap. In order to understand these coronal and glottalstops for word pronunciation, important key definitions must first beestablished.
A variable is a core concept in sociolinguistics wherein it is moreconcerned on choosing the available alternatives of the speakers,regardless of the structural uniformity of these choices (Tamminga &Fruehwald, 3). Variable constraints may offer the speakers some formof basis for combining or separating various linguistic procedures.
There are essentially three categories being considered that caninfluence the occurrence in t/d deletion. The first category is thefollowing context, wherein t/d is followed by a consonant or a vowelletter, or a pause. The second one is the preceding context, whichare considered as the phonological features of the consonant letterpreceding the t/d, while the last category pertains to thegrammatical features of t/d, as to whether it is considered either apart of a root or a suffix notation. Classifying the threecategories, the first two are considered the phonological constraintsof t/d whereas the last one refers mainly to the morphological orsocial constraints of t/d deletion.
It is explained that the major influencing factor for the occurrenceof t/d deletion in English language is that of the phonologicalconstraints. According to Honeybone, there are in general, fourpreliminary assumptions to be considered regarding the influence ofphonological process or constraints in the English context (1). Thefirst one is that the phonological constraints maps the underlyingsegments into surface-type segments. Meaning, it is more focused onthe segments being stored in a unified form and type of environment,and that the formalization of the process being considered is not itsmain agenda. The second assumption would be that phenologicalprocesses may be of variable-type, which can be sensitive to othernon-variable process factors such as sociological and linguisticconstraints. The third assumption would be that the mostdistinguishing features of a phonological process is to describe theworking environment of `t to r` as to where it is common and usual tothe speakers, and a certain part of `t to r` is considered a formthat is lexically restricted, hence called as Lexical Phonology.Lastly, the English accent varies in the inventory of phonologicalprocesses as they would consider them as segments.
According to Schuh, phonological sketch provides a consonant phonemeswhich are medial allophones of `t` and `d`.
Voiceless stops are aspirated when they initiate a stressed syllable(‘two’ /tu/ to [tʰʊ͡u]) and optionally in word final position.All stops can be pronounced, released or unreleased at the end of aword… Placement of the /ɹ/ symbol in the table attempts to reflectthis articulation. The non-alveolar nature of /ɹ/ plays a role inmedial realizations of /t/and /d/. (Schuh, 2-3)
Honeybone mentioned on his work an assumption called LexicalPhonology (LP). According to McMahon, Lexical Phonology is more of ageneral, derivational model of the representation of morphemes, whichare converted to various surface segments and forms by passingthrough a series of certain phonological regulations (5). Moreover,Lexical Phonology is further divided into two categories, theStandard Generative Phonology (SGP), and the post-lexical,post-syntactic component. McMahon defined the two categories of LP.
Some processes, which correspond broadly to SGP morphophonemic rules,operate within the lexicon, where they are interspersed withmorphological rules. In its origins, and in the version beingassumed, the theory is therefore crucially integrationist…Theremainder apply in a post-lexical, post-syntactic componentincorporating allophonic and phrase-level operations. Lexical andpost-lexical regulations display distinct clusters of properties, andare subject to various sets of constraints. (McMahon, 5)
After providing a general background knowledge regarding thephonological constraints brought by t/d deletion, social constraintsare, more or less, still possess a significant role in the Englishaccent and pronunciation. Society and the English language are verymuch related with each other such as those of the sociology oflanguage, the discourse analysis, as well as the ethnography ofspeaking (Trudgill, 2). Moreover, a social constraint in t/d deletionmay also be traced from either a large-scale or small-scale sociologyof language, wherein face-to-face interaction with other people is amust. Thus, your everyday communication with the society you lived inbecame a generating factor on improving your skills in speaking theEnglish language.
Moreover, sociolinguistics also introduced shifting of style inpronunciation, a sort of diffusion to new locations and places whichprovides patterns of changes, as well as supra-local changes that arecommon in women (Baker, 8).
Baker also mentioned other manifestations broughtabout by t/d deletion: Deaspiration, which primarily provideslanguage interactions between neighboring countries Aspirated inword final contexts, as depicted by glottalisation and alveolarcharacteristic which provides the omittance of t/d Spirantisation,accompanied by debuccalisation and a more fricative like realization,with letter (lεtƒә)as an example and lastly, velarization, in which `t` can be realizedas `k`, for which perceptual factors can be observed (12-3).
To sum up both the phonological and social constraints of t/ddeletion, we may think of a variable phenomena that can lookidentical on the surface but may be different on its grammaticalorigins. The omittance of sound syllables `t` or `d` may depend onthe speakers` perception of providing an impact whether to thesociety or not. What is important is how you can effectivelycommunicate with other people using the English language and tounderstand the ideas and emotions being established by the speakerusing proper pronunciation of words and the accent that one is morecomfortable of. Indeed, the language itself is a form of a unifiedbody or system which can be a tool for an effective and a soundcommunication within the two opposing parties.
Baker. "LG405Things that can happen to T."1-15. Web. 24, April 2014.
"Chapter 5: [t,d]-Deletion in English."214-329. Web. 24, April 2014.
Honeybone Patrick. "Why everyone should beinterested in Northern English ‘ t to r ’." Workshopon Northern Englishes. March, 2006.1-8. United Kingdom: Lancaster University. Web. 24, April 2014.
McMahon, April. "LexicalPhonology and the History of English."1-283. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Web. 24, April2014.
Schuh, Russell G. "Flappingand other Fates of /t/ and /d/ in North American English." 1-13.Web. 24, April 2014.
Tamminga, Meredith & Fruehwald, Josef. "deconstructing TD deletion. " NWAV,42. 19, October, 2013. Web. 24, April 2014.
Trudgill, Peter. "Dialect Contact,Dialectology, and Sociolinguistics." Cuadernosde Filologia Inglesia, 8. 1-8. 1999.Web. 24, April 2014.