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The alveolar plosives /t/ and /d/
quickinfo

Features
A possible feature specification of  /t/ is -sonorant, -voice, -labial, +coronal, -velar, -continuant.

Phonotactic behaviour
As a prototypical voiceless plosive, /t/ can occur in onset clusters of one or two consonants, such as in 1a) or two ( 1b) respectively. Furthermore, it can occur in simple and complex codas, such as in 2a and 2b. However, unlike /p/, /b/ and /k/ it cannot occur in complex onsets followed by an /l/, possibly because of the OCP. Like /s/, /t/ also occurs at the end of more complex word-final clusters such as 2c. Because –t is an exponent of verbal inflection, many such forms are verbal, e.g. denktdenk-tthinks.

Example 1

Onset
a. tuin garden
b. Truus Truus (proper name)
Example 2

Coda
a. wit white
b. kant side
c. herfst autumn

Special behaviour
Final /t/ can sometimes be deleted, although this is always considered to be substandard and/or regional, see example 3a. Furthermore, some dialects, like the one of Utrecht, also sometimes allow a paragogic /t/ to arise after sonorants: it is epenthesized at the end of the word (Goeman 1999).

Example 3

a. Utrecht /ytrɛxt/ [ytrɛx] place name
b. brommer /brɔmər/ [brɔmərt] moped

Features
A possible feature specification of /d/ is -sonorant, +voice, -labial, +coronal, -velar, -continuant.

Phonotactic behaviour
As a prototypical voiced plosive, /d/ can occur in onset clusters of one or two consonants, such as in 4a 4b respectively. Unlike /p/, /b/ and /k/ it cannot occur in complex onsets followed by an /l/ however, possibly because of the OCP. Because of final devoicing, it also does not occur at the end of a syllable on the surface, unless it is followed by an onset starting with a voiced plosive in the same word. Underlyingly, it does occur in such positions quite regularly, such as in 5a and 5b.

Example 4

Onset
a. denk think
b. drink drink
Example 5

Coda
a. rood   roo /d/  roo [t] red
b. brand   bran /d/   bran [t] fire

/d/ clearly is the voiced counterpart of /t/. Voicing assimilation can turn /t/ into [d], as in 6a, and inversely, final devoicing of /d/ renders [t], as in 6b:

Example 6

a. uit+buiken   ui /tb/  uiken ui [db]  uiken rest after dinner (lit. out + belly)
b. handzaam   han /dz/  aam han [ts]  aam handy

Because of an earlier weakening process (now no longer productive), [d] in 4a sometimes alternates with [j], e.g. in informal use of the attributive form in 2b:

Example 7

a. rood   roo /d/   roo [t] red
b. rode   ro [d]  e, ro [j]  e red (attributive use)
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[+] Articulatory information

Dutch /t/ is a voiceless and /d/ a voicedalveolarplosive. Dutch plosives are plain unaspirated.

Alveolar
speech sounds produced at alveolar place of articulation, between dental and palatal. See the human speech organs.

Plosive
consonant involving complete closure between the articulators, followed by a rapid release.


Figure 1: The human speech organs

[click image to enlarge]

[+] Acoustic information

Alveolar
  • in obstruents, noise or noise bursts characterised by a spectral peak around 1800 Hz, with formant transitions into vowels coming from around that region
  • in nasals, indicated by the presence of a spectral peak around 500Hz and a spectral valley around 1kHz

Plosive
  • consonant involving a silent phase, followed by a brief noise burst

Dutch /t/ is a voiceless and /d/ a voicedbilabialplosive. Dutch voicelessplosives have a voice onset time (VOT) of around 20 ms; the voicedplosives have a negative VOT (a voice lead) of around -80 ms (Slis and Cohen 1969) to -112 ms (Van Alphen and Smits 2004) in relatively careful lab speech.

[+] Examples

Table 1: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /t/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
onder haar arm droeg ze een tasunder her arm she carried a bag word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
er zaten ook anderenothers were sitting there too intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
iemand die tot zijn nek in het bad zatsomebody who was sitting up to his chin in the bathtub word-final
[click image to enlarge]

Table 2: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /t/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
aan haar tasat her bag word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
sommige zaten bij elkaarsome were sitting together intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
(...) om te controleren of hij er nog zat(...) to control if he was still sitting there word-final
[click image to enlarge]

Table 3: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /d/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
dat vet heeft wel degelijk een doelthe fat does indeed has a purpose word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
Paul en zijn moederPaul and his mother intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]

Table 4: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /d/
wordgroup phonological context soundfile waveform/spectogram
het doel van deze militaire interventiethe purpose of this military intervention word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
met mijn moeder laat ik me niet in (...)with my mother I don't let myself (...) intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
[+] More detail

Place
Place of articulation of Dutch /t, d/ is lamino-alveolar; that is, the blade of the tongue makes contact with the alveolar ridge. /t/ has no aspiration (a very short VOT), while /d/ may be partially devoiced in utterance-initial position.

Manner
The first stop in a medial cluster across a syllable boundary (as in meetbaar) is often unreleased, or the release takes place into the closure of the following stop (Collins and Mees 2003).

Voicing
Negative VOT (voicing lead) is variable across speakers: some speakers always realise /d/ (and other voiced plosives) as prevoiced, while others do so only half the time (Van Alphen and Smits 2004). When they do, the average VOT is around -112ms.

Regional variation
There is some variation with respect to aspiration and voicing. In northern and eastern accents, /t/ is usually aspirated, while in southern accents, /d/ is more strongly voiced.

References:
  • Alphen, Petra M. van & Smits, Roel2004Acoustical and perceptual analysis of the voicing distinction in Dutch initial plosives: The role of prevoicingJournal of Phonetics32455-491
  • Collins, B. & Mees, I2003The Phonetics of English and DutchLeidenE.J. Brill
  • Goeman, Ton1999T-deletie in Nederlandse dialecten. Kwantitatieve analyse van structurele, ruimtelijke en temporele variatieVrije Universiteit AmsterdamThesis
  • Slis, Iman H. & Cohen, Antonie1969On the complex regulating the voiced-voiceless distinction ILanguage and Speech1280-102
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