pronunciation: st in "substantial","ecstasy"...

Dingdongdong

Senior Member
Bân-lâm-gú /Chinese China
Hi, everyone.
I have a question that always troubles me:
As we know, the pronunciation of "st" in "stand" sounds like "sd". Then what about that of "st" in "substantial","ecstasy", "most of"?

Many thanks.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    With consonant clusters such as /bst/ and /kst/, we divide them up between syllables so that each syllable is pronounceable on its own (if possible), and preferably consonants go at the beginning of a syllable. We can't say /bst/ or /kst/ at the beginning of a syllable, but we can say /st/, so they're divided 'sub-stan-tial' and 'ec-sta-sy'. In this position, /t/ is unaspirated because it's preceded by /s/ - what you notate as "sd". Compare this to 'obtain', which has to be divided 'ob-tain'. Here /t/ is at the beginning of a stressed syllable so it's aspirated [th].

    'Most of' is different. The syllable division could be 'mos-tof', but as the second syllable is unstressed, that doesn't give it any strong aspiration. In fact we can alter the conditions by stressing 'of': put it at the end of a clause. 'We have some green ones, but red ones are the ones we have most of.' And when I do this, and stress 'of', I find I say 'most.of', that is the /t/ doesn't join the next syllable. If anything, it's /mo.stof/, where both /st/ join - and therefore the /t/ is unaspirated, "sd".
     

    Dingdongdong

    Senior Member
    Bân-lâm-gú /Chinese China
    Your explanation is clear enough for me. In particular, that about "most of" is very useful. Thanks.
     
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