(63a) Production Notes

One thing you don’t think of first before you start an audio book is how different speech sounds from the way it’s written. Take “she’d tried harder” from this week’s episode. No problem, right? Except the ‘d’ at the end of she’d rests right against the ‘t’ from tried. When spoken, it sounds exactly like “she tried harder”. What happened to the ‘d’? Trying to pronounce both of them inserts a very conspicuous break between “she’d” and “tried” which not only sounds awkward, but is also not like anyone actually talks. I don’t actually know what to do about this, but I have gotten into the habit of over-enunciating my words so I can be understood clearly.

Relevant: this SMBC comic about glottal stops in conversational American English. I don’t think Batman is a great example, as it’s easy and not uncommon to pronounce both the ‘t’ and the ‘m’, but it’s an astute observation that applies often, and Batman makes for a better punchline.

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  1. In those cases it might be better to drop the contraction and go with “she had tried harder”.

  2. When two consonant sounds would blur together, one phonological response is to insert some other sound to make them separate. For English, the default vowel is an unstressed middle vowel, the schwa. Though it kind of sounds like a fake Italian accent, I might have said: “she-da-tried-hard-er.” At least, that’s what my linguistics minor is telling me.

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