Pronunciation: sentence (American English)

< Previous | Next >

James Bates

Banned
Urdu
Is the word "sentence" often or usually pronounced "senance" (rhymes with "penance") in American English? If so, is this pronunciation considered uneducated and substandard? Or will even educated speakers use this pronunciation when speaking in a relaxed, spontaneous manner?
 
  • KHS

    Senior Member
    I think I vary in my pronunciation of sentence, with my most rapid and informal use rhyming with penance. Other times, I insert an *unreleased* T (in other words, my tongue goes to the position for T, but doesn't actually release the sound) in 'sentence' which changes the sound, even if it doesn't sound like the T you may be expecting.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You give your native language in your profile as "English America" - maybe you should tell us. ;)
    I wouldn't find odd to hear little to no /t/. It would also need a change of vowel to rhyme with "penance" instead of "sin ents" (evil Tolkien trees ;)). I think that would not sound natural.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Linguistically this is a very boring bread-and-butter thing that happens in America. Whether by the general public or people in the schools I'm not sure but it's well known and taught at in most courses on dialects and phonetics, (seemingly) without any prejudice attached (unlike "fitty" and "aks" which are processes that have a stigma attached for a lot of people).
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    OK, I'm not an AE speaker. I listen to a fair amount of AE, and I think that there is also the option of replacing the /t/ with a glottal stop (the way most AE speakers say 'Milton' or 'Latin'). Could this be what you are hearing, rather than the omission of /t/ as such?
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    OK, I'm not an AE speaker. I listen to a fair amount of AE, and I think that there is also the option of replacing the /t/ with a glottal stop (the way most AE speakers say 'Milton' or 'Latin'). Could this be what you are hearing, rather than the omission of /t/ as such?
    I know exactly what you mean, but the loss of [t] in a word like "internet" (where no distinction is made between this and "inner net") is quite common.
     

    ribran

    Senior Member
    English - American
    OK, I'm not an AE speaker. I listen to a fair amount of AE, and I think that there is also the option of replacing the /t/ with a glottal stop (the way most AE speakers say 'Milton' or 'Latin'). Could this be what you are hearing, rather than the omission of /t/ as such?
    This is how I pronounce it.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Sorry, but I didn't really understand. Is it OK to completely omit the [t] in the pronunciation of the word "sentence" and say it like this [senəns]?
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    OK, I'm not an AE speaker. I listen to a fair amount of AE, and I think that there is also the option of replacing the /t/ with a glottal stop (the way most AE speakers say 'Milton' or 'Latin'). Could this be what you are hearing, rather than the omission of /t/ as such?
    Not a glottal stop, but an unreleased consonant. You often hear a glottal stop with a T before an N (cotton - the second O is not pronounced) and in some BE varieties this happens with words like bottle. In 'sentence' your tongue goes to the position for T, and there's a kind of pause when the air is not released and the mouth continues to the 'ence' (with the 'e' as a schwa), making it an 'unreleased consonant.' (I used to get the two confused.)

    And for Phoebe, I would say the absence of any kind of change of sound for the T is a more informal pronunciation (at least for me), most common in rapid, casual speech.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Is it OK to completely omit the [t] in the pronunciation of the word "sentence" and say it like this [senəns]?
    If you don't even try to say the 't', you will probably not make the same sound as if you were trying to say the 't'.
    If /ˈsɛntəns/ turns into /ˈsɛnəns/, /ˈsɛnəns/ might turn into /ˈsɛns/.
    The mechanics your mouth went through trying and failing to say the 't' can also have some effect on the surrounding sounds.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    Sorry, but I didn't really understand. Is it OK to completely omit the [t] in the pronunciation of the word "sentence" and say it like this [senəns]?
    No, it is not OK to say it that way intentionally.

    If 't' ever disappears completely (which I am not sure about) this happens by accident in rapid speech, and it only happens when the 't' sound makes no difference at all in understanding the word. And it happens randomly: the same person, the same sentence, two uses of "sentence" and one will have an audible 't'.

    Myridon adds another point: even if 't' is not heard, the speaker is saying it, and that changes the sound of other things around the 't'.

    One example of this is timing. The words "sentence" and "senence" may have small differences in timing (how long is each of the two vowels? is there a momentary silent hesitation between them?)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think it's common to omit the t, and it's also common to do some sort of stop/unreleased consonant there. You'll hear both variations.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The three possible pronunciations of the /t/ in 'cotton' are:

    (a) released [tʰ]
    (b) unreleased [t̚]
    (c) glottal stop [ʔ]

    With a glottal stop, the glottis is abruptly closed while the tongue is still down at the position for the vowel, [ɒ] or [ɑ]. The tongue then moves to the alveolar position to make the alveolar [n]. With the other two options, the tongue moves to the alveolar position during the vowel, so the vowel slightly changes. This is what is heard as a /t/ when the unreleased [t̚] is used. The /t/ segment itself makes no sound, but it causes the vowel to sound like a vowel approaching a /t/. This /t/-colouring makes it audibly distinct from a glottal stop.
     

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Thank you.:)

    With the unreleased T in the word "cotton" and "sentence", the tongue is in the position for T but the air is simply not released, right?
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top