Cut to the chase: While listening Eminem's track Headlights I've noticed a kinda voicing process in the sentence "You're still beautiful to me" around 1:13 on the song, where the preposition seems to be pronounced with a voiced sound.

Could somebody clarify the issue in phonetic terms?

You can listen to the record here

  • 3
    Without listening, I would venture this is not to do with the l, but rather the fact that the preposition to is often reduced to /de/ (that should be a schwa; can't type that on my phone) in at least AmE and AuE (and some dialects of BrE) when not clause-initial. Dec 16, 2013 at 10:52
  • Could you please refer to a trustworthy publication where such voicing process is mentioned ?
    – GJC
    Dec 16, 2013 at 12:27
  • I don’t have any at hand, no. There is a Wikipedia article about the phenomenon, but it has only one real citation. Dec 16, 2013 at 12:45
  • @JanusBahsJacquet He may be perceiving the loss of aspiration as a gain in voicing that isn’t really there. I can cite other examples of that.
    – tchrist
    Dec 17, 2013 at 23:04
  • 1
    @tchrist, saying it to myself, I too frequently voice the t as well as unaspirating it, pronouncing ‘to’ in this position (and others) as either /də/ or /ɾə/. I mean, to the extent that we analyse initial /d/ in English as being voiced at all, of course. Dec 17, 2013 at 23:47

2 Answers 2


I agree with you completely. What's written as 'to' becomes /dǝ/. Eminem is an aggressive performer, so it's not surprising that a softer non-voiced aspirated /t/ becomes a voiced /d/. He's just slurring through 'beautiful' into 'to', and rather than stop the flow of air as is necessitated in proper pronunciation of 'stop' sounds, he lets his voice continue.

In essence, he's slurring sounds because it takes less energy. the long /oo/ becomes the schwa, and the more staccato t' becomes d.

Is that what you're looking for?


The pronunciation of verse and lyrics in performance, whether spoken or sung, frequently departs from pronunciation in conventional speech. The combination of meter, duration of syllables (particularly in singing, where duration is specified by musical notation), and intelligibility at extreme speeds and pitches are some of the factors contributing to such departures. It's an interesting question, but please don't use an Eminem recording as a guide to the conventional speech of anyone, including Eminem.

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