1

https://youglish.com/getcid/19629243/Wouldn't/us

I realized that I make a flapping sound [ɾ] when I pronounce "wouldn't".

But I also realized that not every native speaker does that.

Then I found this clip, which I think is flapping like my pronunciation.

So question : Is that woman in the clip doing flapping? And is it okay to do flapping with words like "wouldn't" , "couldn't", or "didn't"?

  • The word flapping is not a count noun; it’s not really a noun at all. Therefore saying “a flapping” is borderline ungrammatical. – tchrist Apr 21 at 16:59
3

It's hard to be sure, but I think you're right. She's saying a flap followed by schwa: [ɾən]. Many (including me) say [d] followed by syllabic [n] here. The reason you don't get a flap followed immediately by syllabic [n] with no intervening vowel is that the flap articulation requires the tongue tip to touch the alveolar ridge only briefly, but the tip can't leave the ridge immediately if [n] follows; the [n] requires tongue tip contact.

I have a good friend who says "wouldn't" with flap and schwa, and he is from California's Central Valley. (He also has a flap in "button", which is lots easier to hear, because it doesn't sound at all like the glottal stop that most have here.)

  • Thank you Greg! So you mean it is okay to say words like that since there're some native speakers with that pronunciation? Or as a foreigner learning English, should I practice to say like most native speakers do? – nene Apr 22 at 3:41
  • I don't mean that it is okay -- I have no opinion about that. But if it is something native speakers differ about, it's hard to see how you can go wrong. – Greg Lee Apr 22 at 6:11
2

No, she is using [d], not [ɾ], because you can hear a brief friction ([z]-like sound) after /d/, which doesn't occur with [ɾ]. But she is pronouncing the 'n part as [ən], not [n̩] like many other people do. [ən] and [n̩] are interchangeable in this position (see this Wikipedia section for more).

As for your last question, yes. In North American English, /d(ə)n/ preceded by a vowel as in wouldn't, couldn't, didn't, etc. can be pronounced [dn̩], [dən], or [ɾən]. My impression is that [dn̩] (with a nasal release) is most common, followed by [ɾən] and then [dən]. But there is a fair amount of variation among speakers—and even within a single speaker: you can hear her use [dn̩] here right before the sentence in question—so you probably need not worry so much about it so long as you can produce at least one of the three options.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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