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I was told that for the word 'spin', 'p' should be pronunciated as 'b';
for 'stick', 't' should be pronunciated as 'd'.

I'd like to know if it's true and whether there's a general rule for this pronunciation.
What is it called? Thanks.

Ricky
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Comments  
I disagree with this guidance.

While P and B, and T and D, are very similar - the only difference being whether they are voiced - the S in both stick and spin are unvoiced, and there is no need to voice the P or the T early, before the vowel.
The "p", "t", and "k" sounds are unaspirated after initial "s".
Here's what that means.
If your native language is Chinese, you may hear English "p", "t", and "k" in this position as "b", "d", or "g", respectively. If, when you pronounce it, it sounds to you like "b", "d", or "g", but to an English speaker it sounds like you have the correct pronunciation, then continue to think of it however you want! The important thing is to get the pronunciation right, even if what is written as "p" sounds like a "b" to you, and so on.

CJ

P.S. The correct word is pronounced, not pronuciated.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Thanks, CJ, but I don't understand fully what you mean.
Do you mean that to a native English speaker, he/she will not think he/she hears the 'b' sound in 'spin' or 'd' sound in 'stick'? Put it this way. If the words 'sbin' and 'sdick' really existed, would they be pronounced exactly the same as 'spin' and 'stick'?

Ricky
to a native English speaker, he/she will not think he/she hears the 'b' sound in 'spin' or 'd' sound in 'stick'?
Yes. That's correct. The native English speaker will not think he/she hears 'b' in 'spin' and 'd' in 'stick'.

If the words 'sbin' and 'sdick' really existed, would they be pronounced exactly the same as 'spin' and 'stick'?
Most likely yes. But since those words don't exist, it's difficult to say with any certainty. There's also the possibility that we native English speakers might pronounce the initial "s" as "z" in those circumstances and say something that sounds like 'zbin' and 'zdick'. But in either case, we wouldn't be speaking English any more, because combinations like that are not a normal part of the English language.Emotion: smile

CJ
CJ, Merriam Webster describes the pronunciations as:

Pronunciation: 'stik
Pronunciation: 'spin

Why do they use the t & s here? Is it possibly because though you are supposed to enunciate the t & s but people just find it easier to say d & b instead?
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Strange observation: I can't find any words starting with 'sb', 'sd' or 'sg', but many with 'sp', 'st' or 'sk'. Is it related to the pronunciation?

Ricky
Ricky,

That is completely predictable; English words are made up of sounds in a certain order. Certain combinations just don't occur in English. The same is true for all languages. Each language has certain combinations that are characteristic of that language. Each language has certain combinations that are not used at all.

It is related to pronunciation, yes. But it is also related to the way the English language developed through history. At some point in history spelling became standardized, and words that began with those combinations were spelled 'sp', 'st', and 'sk'. It's OK if you hear them as 'sb', 'sd', and 'sg'. (This is due to interference between your native language and English.) Just don't write them as 'sb', 'sd', and 'sg', of course!

CJ
It may be a meaningless question but I still hope someone can think of a reasonable answer. If 'sp', 'st' and 'sk' are to be pronounced as 'sb', 'sd' and 'sg', why didn't the 'creator' of words simply spell 'spin' as 'sbin' and 'stick' as 'sdick'? It will make the spelling and pronunciation match much better. After all, languages are created by humans and unnecessary complexity shouldn't be a desirable feature of a language.

Ricky
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