Why do some people pronounce "cotton" as codden and "satin" as saddin and Russian leader "Putin" as pudin?

These pronunciations are made even by professional news people on national television.

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    @mfoy_ It is absolutely proper. It appears almost ubiquitously in all speakers of American, Canadian, Australian, and South African English to some degree, and in a great number of British and Irish English as well. Note, however, that these /t/’s are not pronounced as [d]. That is, they are pronounced the same way a /d/ in the same position would be pronounced, but that pronunciation is [ɾ] (an alveolar tap), rather than an actual [d] (an alveolar—or, dialectally, dental—stop). Only if [ɾ] comes before a resonant (like [ɾl] or [ɾn]) does it become an actual [d]. Jul 8, 2015 at 18:17
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    Actually in many words, you're right, now that I think about it. Such as "medal" vs "metal". But OP's example are pretty bad because I've never heard "pudin" or "saddin".
    – mfoy_
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:22
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    @mfoy_ [ˈsædn̩] (or [ˈsæʔn̩] with just a glottal stop) is by far the most common pronunciation of satin in my experience; and though Putin, being a foreign name and thus more likely to be over-enunciated, is commonly un-flapped, I’ve heard both [ˈpuːdn̩] and [ˈpuːʔn̩] many times, too. Jul 8, 2015 at 18:26
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    @mfoy_ why do some pronounce a different vowel in "can" and "can't"? In a language with as many speakers as English has, there is bound to be variation. Who is to say what's proper? If enough people agree on something, it becomes proper.
    – phoog
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:36
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    OP suffers from the common delusion that English spelling is sposta represent English pronunciation. Jul 8, 2015 at 18:36

2 Answers 2


I pronounce the t's in the words you mention as glottal stop (the last consonant in "Hawai'i"), not as d, and I think my pronunciation is common. I have heard d here, though. A good friend of mine who grew up in California's Central Valley said d in this position. Phonetically, the d is easy to understand (easier to understand than my glottal stop), since it results from a simple assimilation of the voicing of t to the following voiced syllabic consonant.


From Do Americans pronounce T like D ? :

It’s often stated that Americans pronounce T like D. This is not quite accurate. In American English, T and D are always pronounced distinctly in words like dip and tip, or attack and adapt, or bleat and bleed. However, there are many words, such as metal and medal, or bleating and bleeding, or bitter and bidder, where T and D are indeed pronounced the same for many speakers of American English. In these words, it is not the case that T is being pronounced as a D. Rather, it is the case that both T and D are being pronounced as a third sound, commonly known as a “tap” or a “flap.” The “tap” that we may hear in a word like bleating is not the same sound as the final consonant in bleat, but it is also not the same as the final consonant in bleed.

We do not find the “tap” sound in all positions in a word in American English. We only find it between vowels. Specifically, we only find it between vowels when the following vowel is not stressed. Stressed syllables are indicated in our dictionaries by one of two marks, either the high stress mark, /ˈ/, for a syllable which has the greatest degree of stress in the word, or the low stress mark, /ˌ/, for a syllable which doesn’t have the greatest degree of stress in the word, but which still receives stress. Any syllable not preceded by one of these two marks is unstressed. Thus, we may hear the “tap” sound in words like metal, bleeding, or bitter, but we would not hear the “tap” in words like attack, since the vowel following the T is in a stressed syllable. It should be noted that R acts like a vowel in American English with regards to tapping, thus words like barter, herding, or aorta will have taps. Also, a “tap” can be found at the ends of words when the following word begins with an unstressed vowel. For example, in the sentence "I will read a book," the D at the end of read will sound like a tap.

Not all speakers of American English pronounce T and D as taps in the situations mentioned. Some will keep T and D distinct in all situations. Tapping of T and D is also not common in British English though it is common in Australian English. Even some speakers who do use taps might not always do it consistently, and might pronounce a word with a tap sometimes, and with a regular T or D other times. A learner of English who wants to keep T and D distinct in all situations will be understood. However, if you want to sound like a native speaker of American English, it is useful to learn when to pronounce T or D as a tap.


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    Corollary: do not simply plagiarize, wholesale, the words and works of others. Answers are expected to be primarily the poster's own words; a new, unique writeup specific to the question at hand.
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:23
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    @DanBron I don't mind that with a link and an attribution. It's less destructive than making up an answer based on a frivolous opinion ... Jul 8, 2015 at 18:34
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    @Araucaria I'll admit the answer is in better shape now than when I first encountered it: Avon has moved the copied text to a blockquote. Before they did that, the text simply followed the link, unadorned, in a way that made it look as if Jimmy were claiming the work for himself. But, even though I think it's better than any of its previous incarnations, I think the simple length of the quoted passage over-reaches "fair use" (and anyway I am told that "posts are supposed to be primarily the author's own words").
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:42
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    @Araucaria You could add a better one. I think the one you just deleted could claim some advantages over this one ... ;)
    – Dan Bron
    Jul 8, 2015 at 18:48
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    In British English, we don't use a flap, but there is still a modification of some plosives (especially 't' or 'd') in some of the same contexts discussed above. An 'l' or 'n' following the plosive causes the plosive to have lateral or nasal release, respectively. The release isn't changed before an 'r' though (at least not in non-rhotic accents). This doesn't explain why US accents contain the flaps, but it perhaps hints that the mutation is an instance of a wider class of mutations.
    – Karasinsky
    Jul 8, 2015 at 23:04

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