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For example:

  • clickcub

  • clickcube

  • clickcrab

  • clickcrate

  • clickcone

In which of those cases do you read the 'c' and not?

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3  
Tricky to impose a pronunciation rule on made-up compounds, but the real-world example of the same problem (bookkeeping) has the k sounds run together with the glottal stop or geminate (see below), so I suggest that follows here in the absence of anything to the contrary. –  lotsoffreetime Mar 4 '11 at 23:57
1  
Another real-world example: stock car (spelled as two words, but used as a compound word). –  Peter Shor Mar 5 '11 at 14:25
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is difficult to answer without referring to phonetic details, but I'll do the best I can.

All of the words that you mentioned are compounds (and new, unfamiliar compounds at that), which will be pronounced with a geminate [k] in careful speech. For example, your "clickcub" would be something like ['klɪk:ʰʌb]. Two consecutive /k/ sounds run together as a geminate or "long" [k]. Whether you perceive this as one /k/ or two has more to do with your native language than with English phonetics.

I'm not aware of any dialect of English where you pronounce these words with two distinct releases, as [kʰkʰ]. Furthermore, in rapid speech even the geminates will be shortened, rendering all of them as a single [k].

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Is there a difference in careful speech between clickrate and clickcrate? As in something like "I pushed up the clickrate" (increased the rate of clicking) compared with "I pushed up the clickcrate" (elevated the crate designed for clicks)? –  Henry Mar 5 '11 at 0:23
3  
@Henry: Yes, clickrate has a short k sound while clickcrate would typically have a long (geminate) one. –  Jon Purdy Mar 5 '11 at 2:34
1  
@Jon Purdy: So I would take your answer to be "Yes, English does adjust the pronunciation for the c in the kc examples shown." –  Henry Mar 5 '11 at 11:33
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