I need helps to pronounce the "tor" sound as in "terminator" and "escalator". In the dictionary, it says that I should pronounce it "der". But sometimes, I don't hear the "der" sound when native English speakers are pronouncing the "der" sound, i hear a combination of "der" and "tor". How to pronounce it?

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    In which dictionary? What accent are you trying to aim for: a typical American accent, a typical British accent, or some other kind of accent? – sumelic May 10 '17 at 1:21
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    Or “terminate ’er” and “escalate ’er” – Jim May 10 '17 at 3:05
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    Even if most people (at least in the U.S.) would pronounce the T as a D, that doesn't mean you have to. You may feel free to pronounce it as a T if that is more comfortable for you. – aparente001 May 10 '17 at 5:04
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    @HotLicks No it isn't!!! – Araucaria May 10 '17 at 11:28
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    But just know that however you pronounce it, he'll be back. – fixer1234 May 10 '17 at 21:43

The last vowel in terminator and escalator is exactly the same vowel used in ladder and later. I think this is true no matter which dialect of English you speak. It's spelled differently because English spelling doesn't make any sense.

As for the consonant, we Americans don't pronounce those /t/s as [d]s; we pronounce them as alveolar flaps, [ɾ]. People from the U.K. usually pronounce them as real [t]s.

We also use flaps for /d/s where1 we use flaps for /t/. So in AmE, bitter and bidder use the same consonant, and are distinguished (if they're distinguished at all) only by the length of the vowel.

If you pronounce these flaps as [d]s, they might sound like /d/s to us, depending on how you pronounce your /d/s. So if you can't pronounce flaps, it's probably best to just pronounce them as [t]s. We'll understand you fine that way, although it might make you sound like a foreigner.

1Most Americans use flaps if a /t/ or /d/ comes between two vowels and after a stressed vowel. I believe some dialects use flaps in more or in fewer places.

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