Pronunciation of "met her" in American English


According to what I have been taught about American English:

  • Consonant /t/ becomes flap between vowels (when not being onset of stressed syllable)
  • Consonant /h/ becomes silent (when not [same as above] or word-initial etc.)

Then, how should I pronounce the sequence of /t/ + /h/ as in "I met her"?

  • [th] (or [tʰ]?)
  • [t]: /h/ omitted
  • [ɾh]: /t/ flapped
  • [ɾ]: /t/ flapped and /h/ omitted

Additionally, though only loosely related, I'm glad to know whether /k/ in "Beckham" is rendered aspirated or not.

broccoli forest

Posted 2016-10-17T08:00:09.337

Reputation: 623



Here are my thoughts as an American English speaker; I don't have references for this so some of it may be wrong.

The pronunciation that sounds most natural to me is [mɛɾɚ], with /h/ omitted and the /t/ flapped and voiced.

I would not be surprised to hear [mɛʔt̚hɚ] in slower or more deliberate speech. By [ʔt̚], I mean to indicate an unreleased voiceless stop with some degree of pre-glottalization/glottal reinforcement. In fact, even complete or near-complete replacement of the [t] with a glottal stop doesn't seem too unlikely to me in this context.

I would definitely advise against using [tʰ]. There is no general principle that sequences of plosive + /h/ turn into aspirated plosives in English, so [tʰ] would just be heard as a realization of /t/, but in this context (the end of a word) aspiration of voiceless stops is not usual in most accents and would sound strangely emphatic to me. Also, if someone were to use such a pronunciation, I would expect the /h/ to be retained also: [mɛtʰ.hɚ] sounds much more natural (although, as I said, abnormally emphasized) than [mɛtʰɚ].

I don't know enough phonetics to know if [ɾh] is used at all. I don't see any point in aiming for it because I'm sure omitting the /h/ is much more common, and any pronunciation that includes the /h/ will likely separate the two words to a sufficient degree to make flapping unlikely.


Posted 2016-10-17T08:00:09.337

Reputation: 6 327

And her is reduced to 'er even in situations where you would normally pronounce an /h/ at the beginning of a word. – Peter Shor – 2017-11-27T17:50:37.637