Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As in:

[I]n English /t, d, n, l/ are retracted before /r/. [emphasis added]
Wikipedia, “Allophone

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

'Retracted' basically means that those consonants are articulated farther back in the mouth, and sometimes referred to as 'backed'. The opposite is 'advanced'.

In the examples you give, try saying dog and drink while concentrating on the position of the tip of your tongue. In dog, it should be on the ridge (the alveolar ridge) behind your top teeth, while for drink it goes further back, ready to articulate the /r/.

For a comparison, you could try cork, in which the first /k/ is backed and the final one isn't, and then keen in which the /k/ is advanced.

If you have trouble feeling the difference, some recommend sticking your fingers in your mouth as you say the word. Personally, I wouldn't recommend it.

share|improve this answer
    
Well put, friend. Excellent examples. Also, atrocious, try, unrelenting, Adrian, alright, etc. –  Wolfpack'08 Sep 2 '12 at 7:10

I believe that 'retraction' refers to a slightly laterally inferior positioning of the tongue in pronunciation. The tongue is further backwards of the dental line in the speaking of retracted sounds.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.