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Tim's Pronunciation Workshop: Elision of /t/

Episode 49 / 06 Mar 2017

Tim
Hi, I'm Tim and this is my pronunciation workshop. Here I'm gonna show you how English is really spoken. It'll help you become a better listener and a more fluent speaker. Come on, let's go inside. 

Today, we're going to hear a disappearing sound. Or rather, we're not going to hear it. What is the negative form of 'can'? 'Can't', right? And what's the final sound in the word 'can't'? /t/, right? Or is it? How good are you at maths? Can you answer this question? Hmm, tricky. Let's ask the people of London:

Voxpops
No, sorry, I can't do it.
I can't do it.
Sorry, I can't do that.
Sorry, I can't do that.
No, I can't do that.
No sorry, I can't do that.

Tim
Well, that is very tricky indeed. I'll give you the answer in a minute. But first, did you notice the /t/ sound at the end of 'can't'? No, I don't think I did either. Let's have another listen.

Voxpops
No, sorry, I can't do it.
I can't do it.
Sorry, I can't do that.
Sorry, I can't do that.
No, I can't do that.
No sorry, I can't do that.

Tim
In everyday speech, when a /t/ sound comes in between two consonant sounds, we often don't pronounce it. This is because it makes the words flow together more fluently. It's more difficult to say three consonants together in a row when /t/ is in the middle. Your mouth has to do too much work. 'I can't do it' is more difficult to say than 'I can't do it'. When a sound disappears in between two words, it's called elision. Here are some other examples:

Examples
I can't stand the rain.
It must be time to leave
Am I the first person here?
I don't want it.

Tim
So, you've heard the examples, and now it's your turn. Are you ready to give it a go? Listen and repeat.

Examples
I can't stand the rain.
It must be time to leave
Am I the first person here?
I don't want it.

Tim
How did you get on? Great. Remember, if you want to read more about this topic please visit our website bbclearningenglish.com. Now, are you still struggling with that maths question? Well, let me put you out of your misery – here's the answer. Right. Well, that's all for this week from the pronunciation workshop. I'll see you next week. Is that the time?! I'm running seriously late. I must go. Bye.

Ow!

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