The recent AUE discussions about the pronunciation of the consonants in a word like "ditty" have led me to the tentative conclusion that I have no (d) in my speech.

{d} is defined by the International Phonetic Association to be a voiced alveolar plosive. (See
http://www2.arts.gla.ac.uk/IPA/pulmonic.html .)
Now "plosive" is a relative term. There are sounds, like the first "p" in "pop", that have an unmistakable expulsion of air when the stop is released. Then there is the pronunciation of my first "d" in "ditty": If there is a plosive present in that sound, it's so small as to be hardly noticeable, and it seems doubtful that the consonant should be called plosive.
It follows from that that I have no pronunciation of "d" that meets the IPA definition of (d), and that in turn implies that I have no (d) in my speech.
Whether either of the consonants in my "ditty" should be called a flap seems questionable. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has the following relevant definition of "flap":
b Phonet. A consonantal sound produced by a single fast flapping motion of the tongue or other organ.

A very significant word there is "fast". When I pronounce the consonants in "ditty", I feel I'm pronouncing both of them with the same tongue activity. The tongue rises unhurriedly to my alveolar ridge, stopping the air flow, then releasing it. I'm not conscious of such a fast motion of the tongue as to warrant calling it a flap. And when the stop is released, I'm not conscious of the release of air being in the nature of an explosion. In contrast with that, when I pronounce a truly plosive consonant like the first "p" in "pop" or the first "t" in "top", I'm well aware of the sudden release of a significant amount of air.

This seems to be yet another case where there's no "it is or it isn't", but a continuum, here a continuum of plosives ranging from vanishingly small to substantial.
I believe that my plosive in the pronunciation of an initial "d" is near the vanishingly small end of that continuum, and so is best considered to be absent.
With the plosive absent, my "d" in initial position doesn't qualify as an IPA (d).
My pronunciation of "d" in an intervocalic position, like the second consonant in "ditty", consists of about the same unhurried tongue motion and air release that is found in the initial "d". So it can't be called (d) either, and it can't properly be said to be significantly different from my initial "d".
If I have a voiced alveolar plosive consonant in my speech, I can't think of a word that would convincingly illustrate it. Therefore, I feel led to conclude that I have no (d) in my speech.
In passing, and for what it's worth, I note with interest that the consonant chart of the IPA has no provision for an unvoiced alveolar flap.
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Now "plosive" is a relative term.

In plosives, the airstream is completely blocked and then released, producing a temporary burst of overpressure.
Then there is the pronunciation of my first "d" in "ditty": If there is a plosive present in that sound, it's so small as to be hardly noticeable, and it seems doubtful that the consonant should be called plosive.

Maybe you are not using a plosive, but most people do.
It follows from that that I have no pronunciation of "d" that meets the IPA definition of (d), and that in turn implies that I have no (d) in my speech.

That's certainly a possibility. That doesn't make it the rule for English pronunciation.
A very significant word there is "fast". When I pronounce the consonants in "ditty", I feel I'm pronouncing both of ... releasing it. I'm not conscious of such a fast motion of the tongue as to warrant calling it a flap.

So that's two anomalies in your pronunciation. But lots of people have individual variations.
This seems to be yet another case where there's no "it is or it isn't", but a continuum, here a continuum of plosives ranging from vanishingly small to substantial.

No, it's another case where an individual's pronunciation varies from the norm. Such cases are legion. They do not invalidate the norm, however.
In passing, and for what it's worth, I note with interest that the consonant chart of the IPA has no provision for an unvoiced alveolar flap.

That would be the symbol for a flap with the voiceless diacritic. It's hard to imagine a voiceless intervocalic flap, though.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
Now "plosive" is a relative term.

In plosives, the airstream is completely blocked and then released, producing a temporary burst of overpressure.

"'Plosive' is a relative term" means that there's no reason the volume of the burst can't vary from one person to another, from one sound to another, and from one time to another over a continuous range of values.
Then there is the pronunciation of my first "d" in ... it seems doubtful that the consonant should be called plosive.

Maybe you are not using a plosive, but most people do.

I wonder why you think you know that, and what size population the statistics were based upon that allowed you to reach your sweeping conclusion. I could say that "most people" have only a barely sensible plosive in their pronunciation of initial "d", but I wouldn't have statistics to prove it, either.
It follows from that that I have no pronunciation of ... turn implies that I have no (d) in my speech.

That's certainly a possibility. That doesn't make it the rule for English pronunciation.

Did I say it did? I thought my posting followed the subject line pretty well in discussing my realization that I probably have no (d) in my speech.
A very significant word there is "fast". When I pronounce ... of the tongue as to warrant calling it a flap.

So that's two anomalies in your pronunciation.

You probably have no sufficient basis to call them anomalies. I would expect to find they're typical of the speech communities I've lived in. Why would my speech be substantially different from that of the people around me?
But lots of people have individual variations.

Would there be anyone who doesn't have?
This seems to be yet another case where there's no ... a continuum of plosives ranging from vanishingly small to substantial.

No,

Yes.
it's another case where an individual's pronunciation varies from the norm.

Who is qualified to say what the norm is? And how is the norm defined? Is it perchance the speech that's typical of one or more regions where you happen to have lived?
Such cases are legion. They do not invalidate the norm, however.

There seems to be no single norm to be invalidated. If such a thing as a norm exists, there must be one norm for each of the strange dialects of the Eastern US, and others for the Midwest, the South, and the Far West. And each of those broad areas undoubtedly would have more than one community whose norm differs from those in other communities in the same region. Then there would be the diverse norms in the rest of the English speaking world.
Where did you get the idea that there's only one norm?
In passing, and for what it's worth, I note with ... the IPA has no provision for an unvoiced alveolar flap.

That would be the symbol for a flap with the voiceless diacritic. It's hard to imagine a voiceless intervocalic flap, though.

I continue to find it interesting that the definers of IPA have found no reason to include a symbol for an unvoiced alveolar flap in their table of consonants. I realize that that sound is not considered unpronounceable; otherwise its area in the table would presumably be shaded. I thought it was obvious that the absence of a symbol from that location implies that the corresponding sound is at best rare and possibly nonexistent.
If we ask you nicely, will you tell us every case where diacritic marks, alone or in combination, can be used to modify the sound denoted by an IPA symbol?
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"'Plosive' is a relative term" means that there's no reason the volume of the burst can't vary from one person to another, from one sound to another, and from one time to another over a continuous range of values.

It can't do that because if consonants were that loosely defined they'd be indistinguishable. It can vary over a range, but it cannot completely overlap the sounds of other consonants.
I wonder why you think you know that, and what size population the statistics were based upon that allowed you to reach your sweeping conclusion.

Like all English speakers, I've heard tens of thousands of people from all segments of society pronouncing these sounds, so my sample is excellent.
Did I say it did?

The fact that you are mentioning it in this discussion implies that you so consider it.
You probably have no sufficient basis to call them anomalies.

If they are not normal, they are anomalies.
I would expect to find they're typical of the speech communities I've lived in.

Perhaps those communities are anomalous as well, particularly if they are small or isolated or not very mobile.
Why would my speech be substantially different from that of the people around me?

It wouldn't, unless you were a recent transplant. Speech defects can cause individual differences in pronunciation as well.
Would there be anyone who doesn't have?

No, but some variations are more obvious than others. I suspect the anomalies you mention are not audible to most people.
Yes.

Just saying "yes" without an explanation behind it isn't very persuasive.
Who is qualified to say what the norm is?

Everyone. If it sounds strange, it's not the norm. That's why so many broadcasters learn a standard pronunciation: because otherwise people in their audience might hear "strange" things in their pronunciations.
And how is the norm defined?

By averaging the pronunciation of an entire population.
Is it perchance the speech that's typical of one or more regions where you happen to have lived?

Only if the regions in which I lived were typical of the norm.

As it happens, like most Americans, I grew up in a part of the country that has no marked regional accents. Even so, the attentive phoneticist would probably still see minor variations, even if the average person would not.
There seems to be no single norm to be invalidated.

There is most definitely a single norm, since without it, it would be impossible for one billion English speakers around the world to understand each other. Norms are the quintessence of communication; without them, no communication is possible. So yes, there is a single norm for English, however fuzzy it might seem at times.
If such a thing as a norm exists, there must be one norm for each of the strange dialects of the Eastern US, and others for the Midwest, the South, and the Far West.

There are more general norms for English worldwide, that apply to all English speakers. This is inevitable , because that's the only way that all English speakers can understand each other.
Where did you get the idea that there's only one norm?

See above. There is one norm, and it's called English. Anyone who conforms to it and recognizes it can communicate with anyone else who conforms to it and recognizes it. And as a group, such people are called "English speakers."
This is a mathematical inevitability, not just theory or speculation.
I continue to find it interesting that the definers of IPA have found no reason to include a symbol for an unvoiced alveolar flap in their table of consonants.

Perhaps they haven't encountered it in the field, or haven't heard it enough to warrant a special symbol.
I thought it was obvious that the absence of a symbol from that location implies that the corresponding sound is at best rare and possibly nonexistent.

No doubt.
If we ask you nicely, will you tell us every case where diacritic marks, alone or in combination, can be used to modify the sound denoted by an IPA symbol?

Wherever the result is pronounceable.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
{d} is defined by the International Phonetic Association to be a voiced alveolar plosive. (See http://www2.arts.gla.ac.uk/IPA/pulmonic.html .) Now "plosive" is ... sound, it's so small as to be hardly noticeable, and it seems doubtful that the consonant should be called plosive.

It seems to me that you're confusing plosives and aspirates. It's characteristic of English plosives that the unvoiced ones (/p/, /t/ and /k/) are very strongly aspirated, and that the voiced ones (/b/, /d/ and /g/) are also aspirated, but much more weakly so. Indeed, this distinction between "fortis" and "lenis" is said to be more significant in the separation of these sounds than the voiced/unvoiced distinction.
In Dutch and German (both of which feature equivalent plosives) this aspiration is reduced or absent, and the distinction between "voiced" and "unvoiced" is precisely what those words say. The sounds are nonetheless considered plosives.
Regards
Mark Barratt
(Somewhere in the hills of Buda, not far from Bimbo)
"'Plosive' is a relative term" means that there's no reason ... one time to another over a continuous range of values.

It can't do that because if consonants were that loosely defined they'd be indistinguishable. It can vary over a range, but it cannot completely overlap the sounds of other consonants.

See here now, you seem to be confusing phonemes with phones. Or, you're failing to consider that Bob's set of phonemes, and their use, could be different from yours.
I would expect to find they're typical of the speech communities I've lived in.

Perhaps those communities are anomalous as well, particularly if they are small or isolated or not very mobile.

How can a speech community be anomalous?
Would there be anyone who doesn't have?

No, but some variations are more obvious than others. I suspect the anomalies you mention are not audible to most people.

Then they're not anomalies; you can't have it both ways.
And how is the norm defined?

By averaging the pronunciation of an entire population.

If you're going to go down this road, you of course need to define what you mean by "averaging". And also how you would obtain your intial raw data.
Is it perchance the speech that's typical of one or more regions where you happen to have lived?

Only if the regions in which I lived were typical of the norm. As it happens, like most Americans, I ... regional accents. Even so, the attentive phoneticist would probably still see minor variations, even if the average person would not.

Speaking as a foreigner, I have certainly heard distinctly different accents and patterns of speech in AmE. I would be amazed if the same observations couldn't be made by AmE speakers; and in fact, I would expect many to be able to pick up distinctions that would escape my ears.
There seems to be no single norm to be invalidated.

There is most definitely a single norm, since without it, it would be impossible for one billion English speakers around ... no communication is possible. So yes, there is a single norm for English, however fuzzy it might seem at times.

Now this is just poppycock. Even in our age of globalisation it's possible for two native (or near-native) English speakers to have difficulty understanding each other at short acquaintance. The phrase "strong accent" is not simply applied to foreign learners.

There are many local speech communities, which can be grouped into regional and national communities; and some of these can be grouped further into trans-national groupings. Even with the influence of TV and so forth, in the main you learn English from those around you, ie from the ground up, and not from some abstract "norm" hovering over all our heads.
And to emphasise my point: do you define "billion" as 1,000,000,000 or as 1,000,000,000,000? Each of these meanings applies as the norm for a certain speech community (albeit one of which is a declining minority). How does this conform with your notion of a "single norm"?
If such a thing as a norm exists, there must ... others for the Midwest, the South, and the Far West.

There are more general norms for English worldwide, that apply to all English speakers. This is inevitable , because that's the only way that all English speakers can understand each other.

Huh? Your logic here appears to be that all English speakers are able to understand each other, and therefore they must all obey the same norm. Anyone English-speakers outside of Scotland who had to see the films "Trainspotting" or "My Name is Joe" with subtitles may have a differing view of this.
Where did you get the idea that there's only one norm?

See above. There is one norm, and it's called English. Anyone who conforms to it and recognizes it can communicate with anyone else who conforms to it and recognizes it. And as a group, such people are called "English speakers."

So you can immediately communicate with any other speaker of English without ambiguity, misunderstanding, or confusion? I doubt it. The term "English" denotes a cluster of historically-related speech communities which, generally speaking, have a high degree of inter-intelligibility; but this is not the same as us all having "one norm".
I continue to find it interesting that the definers of ... for an unvoiced alveolar flap in their table of consonants.

Perhaps they haven't encountered it in the field, or haven't heard it enough to warrant a special symbol.

Yes, either of these explanations seems a fair assessment. After all, the International Phonetic Alphabet was designed as a practical tool, for use by professional linguists. Given its wide use by them, it also seems to be a fair assessment that it meets with their requirements for most of the time, at least when dealing with the phonology of a language.

Andrew Gwilliam
To email me, replace "bottomless pit" with "silverhelm"
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Bob Cunningham writes:

In passing, and for what it's worth, I note with ... the IPA has no provision for an unvoiced alveolar flap.

That would be the symbol for a flap with the voiceless diacritic. It's hard to imagine a voiceless intervocalic flap, though.

Some, nonetheless, do seem to imagine it: not a few foreign learners of American-style English try to realize intervocalic flap t as an r. I won't go the stake maintaining that's voiceless, but it seems to be what they're trying to do.
Mike.
See here now, you seem to be confusing phonemes with phones.

By definition, phonemes cannot completely overlap.
Or, you're failing to consider that Bob's set of phonemes, and their use, could be different from yours.

All I see him writing about is allophones.
How can a speech community be anomalous?

In comparison to a larger society.
Then they're not anomalies; you can't have it both ways.

They are anomalies of production, not of perception. And they may be audible but not significant (in particular, they may not be phonemic).
If you're going to go down this road, you of course need to define what you mean by "averaging". And also how you would obtain your intial raw data.

You put all the pronunciations together and divide by the number of speakers.
Speaking as a foreigner, I have certainly heard distinctly different accents and patterns of speech in AmE.

There are some regions of the U.S. and Canada that have distinctive accents, but a vast swath of the continent shows virtually no variation at all, not even one noticeable to native speakers (much less non-native speakers).
I would be amazed if the same observations couldn't be made by AmE speakers; and in fact, I would expect many to be able to pick up distinctions that would escape my ears.

If that were really true, then one of the first questions Americans ask other Americans upon meeting would not be "so, where are you from?"
Now this is just poppycock. Even in our age of globalisation it's possible for two native (or near-native) English speakers to have difficulty understanding each other at short acquaintance.

It's possible, but it's exceptional. Typically they do understand each other, often without any problems at all.
And to emphasise my point: do you define "billion" as 1,000,000,000 or as 1,000,000,000,000? Each of these meanings applies as ... community (albeit one of which is a declining minority). How does this conform with your notion of a "single norm"?

How do think I'm able to read your post in the absence of a single norm?
Huh? Your logic here appears to be that all English speakers are able to understand each other, and therefore they must all obey the same norm.

No, my logic is that any two people who can understand each other are able to do so only because of some normalized protocol for communication that exists between them a norm, for short. There are no exceptions to this rule.
So you can immediately communicate with any other speaker of English without ambiguity, misunderstanding, or confusion?

No, but when I can, it's possible because of a norm ... called English.

Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
"'Plosive' is a relative term" means that there's no reason ... one time to another over a continuous range of values.

It can't do that because if consonants were that loosely defined they'd be indistinguishable. It can vary over a range, but it cannot completely overlap the sounds of other consonants.

I didn't imply that it could. It should have been clear from what I said that as the plosive becomes less evident, the consonant would be taken to be different from the one with a clear plosive. I implied nothing about overlap only contiguity.
I would find it passing strange to live in a world like yours, where everything is black and white and there are no pesky shades of gray to be concerned about.
I wonder why you think you know that, and what size population the statistics were based upon that allowed you to reach your sweeping conclusion.

Like all English speakers, I've heard tens of thousands of people from all segments of society pronouncing these sounds, so my sample is excellent.

Tens of thousands is not a large number in a country with about 300 million people.
Anyway, people often hear what they expect to hear. You've undoubtedly heard people pronouncing initial "d" without much of a plosive and your internal signal processor has converted it to the sound you expected to hear. There's a theory that covers that sort of thing. It might be called "motor theory". One source has discussed it in terms of template fitting. The idea there was that your mental speech processor fits incoming sounds with templates, and if it doesn't have one that fits a given sound well it takes one that's close.
Did I say it did?

The fact that you are mentioning it in this discussion implies that you so consider it.

Up until the point where you broadened the subject, my discussion was, as the subject line showed, about my realization that I seem to have no (d) in my speech. I had said nothing about any speech beyond my own.
Maybe you're confusing my discussion in this entirely new thread with a discussion in another recent thread.
You probably have no sufficient basis to call them anomalies.

If they are not normal, they are anomalies.

I suppose you could as well have said if they're anomalies, they're not normal. Either way would be circular.
I would expect to find they're typical of the speech communities I've lived in.

Perhaps those communities are anomalous as well, particularly if they are small or isolated or not very mobile.

Not small, not isolated, and as mobile as most.
Why would my speech be substantially different from that of the people around me?

It wouldn't, unless you were a recent transplant. Speech defects can cause individual differences in pronunciation as well.

That was a rhetorical question. Asking a rhetorical question is equivalent to making a statement. In
particular, my saying "Why would my speech be substantially different from that of the people around me?" was equivalent to saying "There's no reason for my speech to be
substantially different from that of the people around me".

If you're not familiar with rhetorical questions, you can probably find somewhere to read about them.

My "Yes" was in direct reaction to your "No". I followed it by a discussion of my reason for so reacting. You followed your "no" with an expansion of that thought; my expansion followed yours.
Who is qualified to say what the norm is?

Everyone. If it sounds strange, it's not the norm.

Okay, so when I hear a nonrhotic accent it sounds quite strange. Therefore, according to your definition no speech with a nonrhotic accent can be normal. I could come up with many examples of speech that sound strange to me, but which the millions of people using them would consider normal. "If it sounds strange, it's not the norm" is an absurd definition.
To me, pronouncing "taught" and "tot" differently sounds strange, but I know there are unenlightened people who would consider my identical pronunciation of the two abnormal. I wouldn't consider an English variety in which "taught" and "tot" are pronounced differently abnormal: I would just consider it strange.
That's why so many broadcasters learn a standard pronunciation: because otherwise people in their audience might hear "strange" things in their pronunciations.

I'm sure there are millions of Southerners who hear many strange things in what they may think of as Peter Jennings's Yankee talk.
And how is the norm defined?

By averaging the pronunciation of an entire population.

This would produce a different norm for each population.
Is it perchance the speech that's typical of one or more regions where you happen to have lived?

Only if the regions in which I lived were typical of the norm. As it happens, like most Americans, I grew up in a part of the country that has no marked regional accents.

Yes, everyone grew up in a region with no marked regional accents. I spent my most speech-formative years (up to age six) in Northern Utah, and to this day I find the speech of that area the only one with no noticeable accent. (Old joke, humor intended, but with some degree of seriousness.)
Even so, the attentive phoneticist would probably still see minor variations, even if the average person would not.

"Minor" is, like "plosive", another relative term.
There seems to be no single norm to be invalidated.

There is most definitely a single norm, since without it, it would be impossible for one billion English speakers around the world to understand each other.

Now you're getting shifty. Please try to remember the basic topic here was pronunciation of "d" with a clear plosive as opposed to little or no plosive. You expanded the discussion to cover the departure of my sound from some "norm". Do you really want to defend the position that that difference in pronunciation would make it impossible for any two English speakers to understand each other? (That question is only semi-rhetorical.)
Norms are the quintessence of communication; without them, no communication is possible. So yes, there is a single norm for English, however fuzzy it might seem at times.

There are many varieties of "standard" Englishes. They differ in many quite noticeable ways, and intercommunication between them ranges from slightly annoying but quite understandable to nearly incomprehensible.
We attended stage plays in London whose speech was so hard for me to understand that I couldn't follow the plot.

We were looking for an available bed and breakfast place in Peebles, Scotland, when we met a nice lady who I think went to great lengths to tell us why her place was unavailable and where we should go to find one that was available. I'm only assuming that's what she was talking about, because I couldn't understand a word she said. (I got part of her message because she kept pointing to a large house on a hill overlooking the town. I gathered that her place was unavailable because she didn't invite us in, but stood on the front porch looking as if she expected us to leave.) But I'm sure she was speaking a variety of English that was considered normal in her community.
I mentioned to a man at an information booth in Kirkcaldy that my paternal ancestors had come from Borland, a small town near there. This seemed to spark considerable interest, and he launched into a long discussion that must have had to do with his own connection with the Borland area. I have no doubt he was speaking English, but I had no idea what he was telling me.
In Brisbane during World War II I saw extremely long posts that had been installed to support the post-office ceiling with possible bombing raids in mind. More by way of making conversation than anything else, I asked the clerk what trees the posts were from. He answered "Jedda". I didn't kow what he had said so I asked him to repeat. He again said "Jedda". So I asked, "How do you spell that?" He said "(dZaI aI dVbl A: aI haItS)" ("jigh eye double ah eye highch", where "igh" is the sound of "eye"). I later pondered that spelling in private and decided the tree was called "Jarrah". I have no doubt he was using the normal English of a sizable community.
Anyone who conforms to it and recognizes it can communicate with anyone else who conforms to it and recognizes it. And as a group, such people are called "English speakers."

English speakers are people who speak one of the diverse varieties of English. You apparently have in mind some sort of lingua franca that's based on English.
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