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  1. #1
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    Pronunciation of "Can't" in American English

    Hi All,

    I am always confused with the pronunication of "Can't" and "Can" in American English. As I know, "t" sound always drops in some cases...then pronounce "Can't" will be same as "Can", right? If so, it would make a big mistake, because "Can't is opposite of "Can". So in my daily life, I would speak "cannot" to instead of "can't"..... For instance, how do I pronounce or listen the following sentence correctly? Please advise.

    1. She can't do it. (I think "t" drops when speak fast)
    2. She can do it.


    WYH

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Pronunciation of "Can't" in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by Williamyh View Post

    ...
    1. She can't do it. (I think "t" drops when speak fast)
    2. She can do it.
    ...
    It isn't completely dropped, but it assimilates to the following /d/ in a way that makes it sound like it's being dropped (even to me). In British English there's not a problem as there are different vowel sounds (/a:/ and /æ/); but there's an attendant problem for ELT students with an American background - most listeners will interpret /kæ<any nasalized consonant cluster>/ as negative.*

    (I've noticed that some native-speakers of American English realize this, and accommodate our foibles by enunciating these words very clearly and even in some cases modifying the vowel sound. )

    b

    *PS to clarify: When I said there were two distinct vowel sounds, I was over-simplifying. In most cases, when not emphasized (for example, because of contrastive stress) the Br Eng pronunciation of 'I can' is /aɪ kǝn/, so there are really three. A Br English speaker, hearing anything but a schwa - when there's no other reason to suspect emphasis - assumes a negative. For example, if I said to my wife (also a native speaker) /aɪ kæn si:/, she would want to know a why I couldn't see, and b why I was using that silly accent. So beware...
    Last edited by BobK; 25-Nov-2009 at 23:26. Reason: Added PS

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    Re: Pronunciation of "Can't" in American English

    In case you'd subscribed to this thread and miss the update, I've just added a pretty hefty PS to my last post.

    b

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    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Re: Pronunciation of "Can't" in American English

    nt > nd > n (thats how assimilation goes).

    Negatives are usually stressed; therefore, 'can't' get the stress. That's why you hear /æ/.

    kæn vs kn

    kn = can

    kæn = can't

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