AmEng: Is the T tapped (flap) in the compound noun heart attack?


Is the T tapped (flap) in the compound noun: heart attack? I'm talking about the T in the word "heart".

Zoltan King

Posted 2015-10-14T09:54:19.747

Reputation: 1 031



The /t/ in heart will become a voiced tap in the string heart attack for many speakers of American Englishes. This means that the compound nouns heart attack and hard attack will be homophones. The /d/ in hard attack will also become a tap in this position for many speakers.

Syllable final /t/ is liable to become a tap for such speakers when at the end of a syllable and surrounded by vowels, or if preceding a vowel and following a voiced sonorant, in other words after a nasal or the liquid, /r/.

[In case anyone is wondering what a hard attack is, it's when we use a glottal stop before a word beginning with a vowel!]

Araucaria - Not here any more.

Posted 2015-10-14T09:54:19.747

Reputation: 25 536

Hard atTACK. HEART attack. Usually. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-10-14T13:00:48.903

@TRomano If hard was a real adjective here that is indeed what you'd get. But it isn't here though, it's part of a compound noun. Compare a greenhouse with a green house, or I'm going to the white house with I'm going to the White House! – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-10-14T13:26:16.737

@TRomano Or a jacket which is burning, a smoking jacket, with a type of jacket for smoking in: a smoking jacket :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-10-14T13:27:57.650

I wasn't clear. I was saying that the accent falls differently. What we need in the second half is a hard atTACK, said the football coach. He has suffered a HEART attack. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-10-14T17:08:10.750

@TRomano No, you were clear:) What I'm saying is that the compound noun hard attack has stress on the first word and not the second. The adjective noun combination hard attack as per your example is stressed on both words, with the second being more prominent. Hence my parallel examples with "White House" versus "white house", where the first is a compound with stress on the first word only, but the second is an adjective plus noun which therefore has stress on both words. – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-10-14T17:25:24.850

I don't know what you mean by "the compound noun hard attack". Heart-attack is the compound, right? – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-10-14T17:32:04.260

@TRomano It isn't usually hyphenated, but it's the phonetic term described in my last paragraph in brackets. Zoltan, who's a phonetics enthusiast, accidentally used it in his original title instead of heart attack. It's definitely because of the phonetics term :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. – 2015-10-14T17:33:49.460

1I do agree that "heart attack" is a dactyl. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-10-14T17:34:55.040