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According to dictionaries, there is a sound /b/ before /t/ in the word 'obtain': /əbˈteɪn/. To me it seems impossible to pronounce /b/ in this position. To my ear obtain sounds as /əpˈteɪn/ where /p/ is just a stop and it is not released.

  • Good question. I'll come back later and give you an answer. – Araucaria Aug 1 at 8:09
  • Doesn’t seem impossible to me, though I doubt I’m very consistent in voicing the /b/ in natural speech. The difference between an unreleased /b/ and an unreleased /p/ is very slight in English, though, given that /b/ is often only partly voiced anyway. After an unstressed /ə/, there won’t even be much of a hint in the preceding vowel, which would normally be the strongest clue to tell you whether the consonant is voiced or not. Also note that dictionaries usually use (more or less) phonemic writing, so /əbˈteɪn/ could easily be [əpˈteɪn] when pronounced. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 1 at 9:04

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