Discussion in 'English Only' started by -Styx-, May 17, 2012.
Hi everybody, are the words "Writer" and "Rider" pronounced the same in American English?
Many people pronounce them very similarly. Most Americans do not have a distinct "t" sound in words like "writer". It's closer to a "d" sound.
Most Americans pronounce the "t" or "writer" and the "d" of "rider" identically. Because "write" and "ride" end in different consonants, people sometimes think they say a different consonant in the -er forms even when they do not. And when the word is spoken slowly, the normal /t/ of "writer" may indeed be retained. But in normal speech it is unusual to distinguish the consonants in the -er forms.
A complicating fact is that many people have a different initial vowel (diphthong) in the two words. This follows from the fact that vowels tend to be longer and/or the diphthong tends to be different before voiced consonants (like /d/) than before voiceless consonants (like /t/), and this difference is established for these speakers "before" the difference in consonants is neutralized by the presence of the following vowel in the -er ending. For these speakers, the surprising answer to Styx's question is, yes, the words are pronounced differently, but the difference is in the "i", not in the "t" vs "d".
A similar situation exists with respect to writing vs riding, etc.
(I don't believe shily's distinction is correct for most Americans in normal speech.)
The correct representation in the International Phonetic Alphabet for the merged pronunciation, in American Speech, is ['raɪɾər]. The consonant in question is called an alveolar tap.
Here is a more general discussion of the issue: pronunciation: -t- between vowels in AE and BE
(post 56 mentions the specific example of rider/writer.)
Separate names with a comma.