Flapping in English derivatives: your judgments needed!

From Juliet Stanton

Donca Steriade and I are curious about some aspects of flapping in English.  To respond, you can either comment on this post or email me directly at juliets [at] mit [dot] edu.  Please also indicate whether or not you are a native speaker of English, and if so, what your native dialect is.

1. Do you flap in words like sanity, societal, parietal, skeletal, palatal?

2. Do you flap in words like normative, ablative, associative, additive?

3. Do you flap in words like completive, locomotive, emotive?

(We welcome any additional comments you might have on the structure of these words.)


21 thoughts on “Flapping in English derivatives: your judgments needed!

    1. Laura Downing

      I flap everywhere except before the words in set 2 (so not in normative, etc.). I think I might have secondary stress on -tive in those words. Or maybe I just think I hear that, as that would explain the lack of flapping.
      I’m a native speaker of American English (basically Midwestern).

  1. Heather Goad

    Group 3: flap regularly.
    Groups 1 and 2: flap variably, more commonly in group 1 than 2.
    Native speaker of Canadian English.

  2. Jessica Barlow

    I flap everywhere in 1 and 3, but variably in 2. Native English speaker of American English (Midwest).

  3. John Kingston

    I flap in all three, but in the second list a stop pronunciation is possible but infrequent. Native speaker of American English, raised in the northeastern Midwest.

  4. Bob Ladd

    Corrupted native speaker of North American English (second half of my life in UK; first half mostly in southern Ontario and NE USA, but with various connections with Europe even then).

    Fairly sure I would always have flapped in all three sets. UK-accommodated pronunciation (i.e. a voiceless [t], more or less) probably affects set 2 most, then set 1, then set 3.

  5. Ellenor Shoemaker

    yes, I flap everywhere noted here. Native speaker of American English (born on East coast, grew up in the South)

  6. Kathleen Currie Hall

    I normally use a flap in all of these. Native speaker of American English (raised in North Carolina).

  7. Jen Smith

    Coming late to the party, but I would flap sets 1 and 3 for sure, and I think set 2 is preferably flapped but a non-flapped pronunciation is also possible.

    Native speaker of US English; raised in (western) Vermont.

  8. Sverre Stausland Johnsen

    Native language: Norwegian.
    I guess I count as ‘native-like’ for US English.

    1. Flap everything (except ‘parietal’ is not in my lexicon).
    2. Would definitely flap in ‘associative’. 50/50 for ‘ablative’. Would probably not flap in ‘normative’ and ‘additive’.
    3. Flap everything.

    And by the way, I have a weird flapping constraint in my English, in that I can’t flap if the closest preceding consonant is /r/ – except if the /r/ is initial. So I have no flapping in ‘celebrity’ (closest preceding consonant is a non-initial /r/), but I flap in ‘rattle’, since the /r/ is initial.

  9. Javier Sanz

    I’m not a native speaker but I’m very interested in the topic myself. A couple of words that are relevant for me would be ‘hostiliTy’, ‘hesiTatory’ and ‘faciliTatory’ (sorry about the weird ones).

    Can you flap these ones? Thanks a lot. I hope this helps Juliet and Donca too.

    1. Joe Pater Post author

      Only “hostility”. I guess the others could either be explained by cyclicity, or the prosodic factors that are relevant in an underived word like Winnepesaukee (see also the discussion of monongahela between me and Ricardo elsewhere on this blog).

      1. Javier Sanz


        That’s interesting since you seem to be able to flap in all the other contexts.

        I was precisely thinking in Ricardo’s and Davis & Cho’s proposals when I asked. I assume the parsing would be something like (fa(cí.li))(tàte) > (fa(cí.li))(ta(tò.ry)). The foot in the last syllable in ‘facilitate’ must be disjointed in order to avoid a stress clash with the foot head in embedding -ory. Then the unfooted syllable adjoins to the next minimal foot in the expected, unmarked way (see Davis & Cho 2003).

        That could be an explanation why you get aspiration in both ‘faciliTatory’ and monomorphemic ‘MediTerranean’.


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