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The /k/ in doctor is usually not released. Maybe it's never released, I'm not sure.
The problem is, I'm not even sure there has to be a /k/ there.
I don't release it at all, so it's like there's no /k/ at all, but there's still something.

If I say dot-ter (first t not released), it sounds a bit wrong, somehow, but I might be fooling myself, because it sounds so similar that it might be exactly the same, expecially if you use a strong glottal stop: dot?-ter

If I say dok-ter (k not released), it sounds alright of course.
If I say do?-ter (? is a pure glottal stop), it sounds good to me too.

What kind of sound is actually there?
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KooyeenWhat kind of sound is actually there?
When I say it, it's an unreleased /k/. I do unreleased /k/ and /p/ before syllables that start with /t/. Not the glottal stop.

raptor, doctor, tractor, aptitude, lepidoptera, sector, helicopter, practice

CJ
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I see, thanks. What I was wondering was... If that /k/ is unreleased and completely silent, how do native speakers learn that there is a /k/ there? (Yes, insane question, but that's normal for me, lol)
If you can't hear something, you can't copy it. That's the point. If I had to take a guess, I would say that "doctor" is perceived as do?-ter, where ? is a glottal stop. Then, holding the glottal stop while rising the tongue to make the /t/ causes the tongue to be in the same position as if it was going to make a /k/, and that's where the unreleased /k/ comes from.

I know, I'm crazy. Let's forget about this, I have other crazy questions that are more important, lol. Emotion: big smile
KooyeenThen, holding the glottal stop while rising the tongue to make the /t/ causes the tongue to be in the same position as if it was going to make a /k/
No. The tongue is farther back for /k/.