Did you know the vowel in ‘dog’ will be a little longer than the vowel in ‘dot’? A voiced ending consonant can make the vowel before a little longer.
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This video is a spin off of the Can Vs. Can’t video. We’re going to take one of the concepts from that video and broaden it into a general rule. One of the ways you can tell the difference between can and can’t is the length of the word. Can will be a little longer and a little smoother than can’t, which will be a little bit more abrupt. Can’t, can’t. That’s because of the stop T, which makes that abrupt ending. The T in an unvoiced consonant. And as a general rule, a one syllable word that ends in an unvoiced consonant will be shorter than the same word if it was to end in a voiced consonant. So here the final consonant is actually affecting vowel length. Let’s look at some examples.
Rack, rag. Rack, rag. Do you hear that the second word is just a little bit longer? That’s because of the voiced consonant at the end. Here you see the word rack on the left compared with rag on the right. You can see that the length of rack is shorter. Hid, hit. Hid, hit. I hope you can see that that second word, hit, is very abrupt. Need, neat. Need, neat. Safe, save. Safe, save. Second word: longer. Ride, write. Ride, write.
This actually answers a question that someone sent me in an email quite a while ago. How to tell the difference between fall and fault. The only difference in IPA is the T, and as you know, final T’s are often not released. Fall, fault. Can you hear that the second one is shorter? Fault, fault. It’s that stop T that’s cutting off the sound, that unvoiced consonant at the end that, even though it is not released, does affect the vowel length. That’s it and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.