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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

The linguistic variable (t,d) – word-final /t,d/ deletion in consonant clusters C(C)T/C(C)D – is widely investigated in US dialects (e.g. Guy 1980, Patrick 1991). Conversely, little research on this phonological variable has been carried out in the UK, where (t,d) was mainly researched in Northern varieties of British English, as in York (Tagliamonte and Temple 2005), Manchester (Baranowski and Turton 2020) and in Tyneside English (Woolford 2018). Conflicting results were found with respect to the morphological effect among British English varieties: in York, morphological class failed to reach statistical significance, whereas findings from Manchester and Tyneside exhibit the usual robust morphological effect. This paper investigates (t,d) deletion in the South East of England and sets out to (a) shed light on the unsolved problem of morphological effect in British English; (b) propose a more fine-grained analysis of the following phonetic segment. Despite contributing the greatest effect on (t,d) in most American and British studies, stops, fricatives and nasals are not examined separately in the following phonetic environment, yet they are commonly grouped as obstruents. This distinction is commonly made in the preceding environment even though it is considered a “tertiary constraint” (Guy 1980:20). In the fine-grained analysis of the following environment that we propose, we break down the obstruent category further and we also split fricatives distinguishing between sibilants and non-sibilant fricatives.

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