LINGUIST List 11.125

Sat Jan 22 2000

Sum: For Query 11.94: American English Flap

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. Jorge Guitart, For Query 11.94: American English Flap

Message 1: For Query 11.94: American English Flap

Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 13:47:51 -0500 (EST)
From: Jorge Guitart <>
Subject: For Query 11.94: American English Flap

Some people answered the question of why Kenyon and Knott did not show
the AEF by saying that the transcription was phonemic rather than
phonetic, as it is normally in dictionaries. 

Fine, but it strikes me as absurd then to call K&K's a pronouncing
since you don't pronounce phonemes: you pronounce their physical
representations. [t] is certainly not what happens physically in atom,

Someone pointed out that the editors of the famous (infamous with
some people) Webster's Third were criticized because they used shwa.

I can see not transcribing things like vowel nasalization, which
would be automatic , but the flap is not automatic in English in general.
A pronouncing dictionary without the AEF certainly is not a reliable guide
for foreigners. 

At least one person pointed out that the AEF was not widespread when K and K 
wrote their book.

As to some dictionaries showing AEF, see what follows. (Thanks, Tom)

From: "Powell, Thomas" <>

The new (1999) Cambridge Dictionary of American English (ISBN 0-521-77974-X)
does indicate the flap in words such as "butter" by placing the IPA voiced
diacritic under [t]. One edition of this dictionary includes a cd-rom
version with .wav files. Useful for teaching purposes

Longman's (1997) Dictionary of American English also indicates the flap (by
placing a linking symbol beneath the [t]).
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