So one has that "get" /ɡɛt/ and "got" /ɡɒt/ are a minimal pair, for it's only the vocalic phoneme which distinguishes them. However, the first sound is not pronounced/articulated in the same manner as the second. So how do we note these sounds in IPA, in order to show that there's a palatalization in the first sound which is absent in the second?

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    What makes you think this is a phonemic difference?
    – tchrist
    Jun 3, 2023 at 13:39
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    Nothing. Did you read my question?
    – DanielC
    Jun 3, 2023 at 15:13
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    @tchrist OP indicates that it's phonetic, not phonemic, I think. No? Jun 3, 2023 at 16:00
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    I find it hard to believe that the inital /g/ is different between get and got. But if it is, that's irrelevant to Anglophones, so few if any will be able to hear the difference even if an oscilloscope proves that it's present. Phonetic transcriptions don't normally distinguish variations that native speakers aren't aware of. So I think questions at that level should be asked on Linguistics.SO, not here. Jun 3, 2023 at 18:31
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    What difference do you want to indicate? Shifted place of articulation, some kind of co-articulation or other colouring? There are IPA symbols to indicate most of this, but if you don't say what you want how can we know what the symbol is?
    – Stuart F
    Jun 3, 2023 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


In English, a front(ish) vowel—so, /i:, ɪ, e/ɛ, æ/—will cause the place of articulation of a preceding velar plosive to be slightly advanced. If you try saying the words cot and cat, you will notice that, for the word cat, the tongue touches the roof of the mouth slightly more towards the front of the mouth when making the [k] sound than it does in the word cot. The way of showing this using conventional IPA notation is to put a small '+' sign underneath the consonant in question:

  • get [g̟ɛt]
  • cat [k̟æt]

Notice that in the transcriptions above, square brackets have been used, not slanty ones (i.e. [], not //). This is because this kind of detailed information does not appear in broad, phonemic transcriptions.

It's also worth knowing that the 'advanced' diacritic, +, may appear above a consonant if the symbol has a tail, for example the curl at the bottom of < g >, or if the consonant already has another diacritic applied.

  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on English Language & Usage Meta, or in English Language & Usage Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – tchrist
    Jul 3, 2023 at 23:40
  • John Lawler wrote: ‘English velar consonants are notorious for the front-to-back range they occur in. Since there are no post-velars to contrast with, many people use [k] before front vowels and [q] before back, for instance. I've successfully taught English speakers to pronounce the Lushootseed /k/ - /q/ distinction correctly by using the /k/'s in keep cool as examples’ Jul 4, 2023 at 12:41

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