The Glottal Stop in American English

Dec 28, 2020

The Glottal Stop in American English

12/28/2020

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Glottal Stop. Stop T. Glottal T. All three terms refer to the same sound, and this sound is very common in American English. In this video, you'll learn 4 ways to use the glottal stop in American English!

(Video Transcript)

 

Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video you’ll learn 4 ways to use the glottal stop in American English.

 

Other names for the glottal stop: Stop T, glottal T

Glottal stop. Glottal T. Stop T. All of these terms refer to the same sound. It’s this sound here - ah, ah, ah, ah, ah. 

 

Not the voiced part, but the part between the voiced parts. 

 

ah

ah 

ah

ah 


My vocal cords came together to stop the airflow and the voicing stopped, too. 

 

ah 

ah 

ah 

ah

 

That is a glottal stop, glottal meaning vocal cords, and stop meaning a stop of airflow. And in American English, glottal stops are very common and can be used all over the place.

 

Glottal stop before vowels

The first place you might use a glottal stop is at the beginning of a word that begins with a vowel. Say the word oven

 

Oven

 

Now say it slowly, and exaggerate the first sound, uh.

 

OOOven

 

Ooooven

 

You should feel that at the beginning of the UH vowel, your vocal cords were probably closed. 

 

Uh

 

Oven

 

That’s a glottal stop, and native speakers may use it at the beginning of words that begin with vowels, either when the word is said by itself, like oven. Or in a sentence, like: 

 

Turn on the oven.

 

I used a quick glottal stop between the and oven

 

Turn on the oven.



Glottal stop for a /t/ consonant

A second time you might use a glottal stop is in the place of a T sound in certain words, and when this happens, I usually call it the stop T.  Let’s take the word button, for example. Look at the IPA transcriptions that I have for this word. The first transcription uses a stop T and a syllabic N in the final syllable. 

 

Button

 

The second transcription uses a true T, the schwa vowel, and then a normal N consonant in the last syllable.

 

Button



Which one sounds more natural?

 

Button

 

Button

 

Native speakers will almost always pronounce this word using a stop T in the place of the T sound, and then omit the vowel and transition from the glottal stop to a syllabic N consonant.

 

Button

 

This process can occur in words that have a T before an N consonant in the final syllable, and the final syllable is unstressed, like in the words:

 

Cotton

 

Eaten

 

and forgotten

 

Glottal stop in "n't" contractions

A third time you might use a glottal stop is in the place of a T sound in contractions that contain the N apostrophe T combination, and when this happens I usually call it a stop T. Here are some examples: 

 

Can’t

 

Won’t

 

and don’t



You maybe learned to pronounce these words using a true, released T sound:

 

Can’t

 

Won’t

 

Don’t



But native speakers will often use a glottal stop in place of the T sound, and when this happens I usually call it a stop T. This can occur in all contractions that use an N apostrophe T combination. 

 

Here’s what these words sound like with a true T and then a stop T.

 

Can’t, can’t

 

Won’t, won’t

 

Don’t, don’t 



Linking with the glottal stop

And a fourth time you might use a glottal stop is when you are linking two words or syllables together, and the first word or syllable ends with a T sound, and the next word or syllable begins with a consonant. Native speakers may use a glottal stop for the T sound, and when this happens I usually call it a stop T.

 

This can occur in phrases such as:

 

Let me

 

That way

 

and outside

 

Let’s practice the glottal stop in words and sentences. I’ll read each word three times, and then you’ll have a chance to repeat. And then I’ll read each sentence once, and you’ll have a chance to repeat.



Glottal stop at the beginning of a vowel

Easy



Interesting



About



Stop T + Syllabic N

Mountain

 

Kitten

 

Certain



N apostrophe T contractions

Haven’t

 

I haven’t had my coffee yet.



Couldn’t

 

I couldn’t go yesterday.



Wasn’t

 

That wasn’t my fault.




Stop T when linking

Sit down

 

You need to sit down, please.



Eat fast

 

You have 5 minutes, so eat fast!



Hot dog

 

I don’t like hot dogs.




I hope this video helped you to learn when to use the glottal stop in American English. Thanks for watching, and let me know how I can help you perfect your American accent!