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1.14: Lesson Fourteen

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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The Consonant Sound [t]

1. You can hear the sound [t] at the front and end of the word toot. Underline letters that spell [t]:

\begin{align*}&\text{abou\underline{{t}}} && \text{af\underline{{t}}er} && \text{be\underline{{tt}}er} && \text{accoun\underline{{t}}} \\ &\text{coun\underline{{t}}ry} && \text{perfec\underline{{t}}} && \text{didn'\underline{{t}}} && \text{differen\underline{{t}}}\\ &\text{i\underline{{t}}self} && \text{grea\underline{{t}}} && \text{ki\underline{{tt}}en} && \text{bo\underline{{tt}}le}\\ &\text{s\underline{{t}}ar\underline{{t}}er} && \text{li\underline{{tt}}le} && \text{rabbi\underline{{t}}} && \text{sis\underline{{t}}er}\\ &\text{vo\underline{{t}}e} && \text{\underline{{t}}oday} && \text{frui\underline{{t}}} && \text {se\underline{{tt}}ing}\\ &\text{ho\underline{{tt}}er} && \text{bo\underline{{tt}}om} && \text{un\underline{{t}}il} && \text{canno\underline{{t}}}\end{align*}abou\underline{{t}}coun\underline{{t}}ryi\underline{{t}}selfs\underline{{t}}ar\underline{{t}}ervo\underline{{t}}eho\underline{{tt}}eraf\underline{{t}}erperfec\underline{{t}}grea\underline{{t}}li\underline{{tt}}le\underline{{t}}odaybo\underline{{tt}}ombe\underline{{tt}}erdidn'\underline{{t}}ki\underline{{tt}}enrabbi\underline{{t}}frui\underline{{t}}un\underline{{t}}ilaccoun\underline{{t}}differen\underline{{t}}bo\underline{{tt}}lesis\underline{{t}}erse\underline{{tt}}ingcanno\underline{{t}}

2. Now sort the words into these two groups:

Words with [t] spelled ...
<t> \begin{align*}<\mathrm{tt}>\end{align*}<tt>
about didn't hotter
country rabbit little
itself fruit bottom
starter until better
vote account kitten
after different bottle
perfect sister setting
great cannot

3. Two ways of spelling the sound [t] are <t> and \begin{align*}\underline{<tt>}\end{align*}<tt>

4. Underline the letters that spell [t], [p], and [b]:

\begin{align*}&\text{sur\underline {{p}}rise} && \text{im\underline{{p}}or\underline {{t}}an\underline{{t}}} && \text{hel\underline{{p}}} && \text{a\underline{{pp}}ear}\\ &\text{a\underline{{b}}ou\underline{{t}}} && \text{ho\underline{{bb}}y} && \text{\underline{{b}}ecause} && \text{\underline{{b}}ridge}\\ &\text{\underline{{p}}reven\underline{{t}}} && \text{\underline{{b}}e\underline{{t}}ween} && \text{\underline{{b}}o\underline{{tt}}le} && \text{ri\underline{{bb}}on}\end{align*}sur\underline {{p}}risea\underline{{b}}ou\underline{{t}}\underline{{p}}reven\underline{{t}}im\underline{{p}}or\underline {{t}}an\underline{{t}}ho\underline{{bb}}y\underline{{b}}e\underline{{t}}weenhel\underline{{p}}\underline{{b}}ecause\underline{{b}}o\underline{{tt}}lea\underline{{pp}}ear\underline{{b}}ridgeri\underline{{bb}}on

5. Sort the words into these three groups:

The words with ...
[p] spelled \begin{align*}<\mathrm{p}>\end{align*}<p> [b] spelled \begin{align*}<\mathrm{b}>\end{align*}<b> [t] spelled <t>
surprise about important
important because about
help bridge prevent
prevent between between

6. The word with [p] spelled <pp>


7. The word with [t] spelled \begin{align*}<\mathrm{tt}>\end{align*}<tt>


8. The two words with [b] spelled <bb>

\begin{align*}{hobby} && {ribbon}\end{align*}hobbyribbon

9. Two ways of spelling [p] are \begin{align*}\underline{<p>}\end{align*}<p> and <pp>

10. Two ways of spelling [b] are \begin{align*}\underline{<b>}\end{align*}<b> and <bb>

11. Two ways of spelling [t] are <t> and \begin{align*}\underline{<tt>}\end{align*}<tt>

Word Pyramids. In a Word Pyramid you pile shorter words on top of longer ones to form a pyramid. We give you the bottom and longest word. Your job is to take one letter away from that word and rearrange the letters to form a new word that is one letter shorter than the one below it. You keep doing that until you get to the top.

In the Word Pyramid below, each word must contain the sound [t] spelled <t>. The only three-letter word you can make out of vote is toe, which does contain <t> and goes right above vote. The only two-letter word you can make from toe is to. The only one-letter word with <t>, is T, which is short for “tee shirt” and is also used in the phrase, “My new bicycle suits me to a T.” Thus, the filled-out Pyramid would look like the following:

In the Pyramid below, you can make more than one four-letter word that contains [t] spelled <t>: rate, tear, and gate. Either one of them could go right above great in the Pyramid. Here is one solution. What other solution can you think of? Remember that each word must contain the sound [t] spelled <t>:

Here is another Pyramid with words that contain [t] spelled <t>:

Teaching Notes.

1. About \begin{align*}95\%\end{align*}95% of the time [t] is spelled <t>, and nearly \begin{align*}99\%\end{align*}99% of the time it is either <t> or \begin{align*}<\mathrm{tt}>\end{align*}<tt>. But after that fine start things get rather complicated, as lessons 21-24 and 26-31 of Book Four spell out. As a quick preview, consider the different spellings of [t] in, say, kissed, Thomas, thyme, doubt, debt, pterosaur, receipt, indict, veldt, fought, yacht, and two!

2. If you listen carefully to your students', or perhaps your own, pronunciation of the words in Item 1 of the lesson that contain <t> or \begin{align*}<\mathrm{tt}>\end{align*}<tt>, you may detect a sound in some of them more like [d] than [t]. This pronunciation is most common in words like hotter, little, gotten, better, bottle, and setting or like laterand plating. The pattern here is that if the <t> or \begin{align*}<\mathrm{tt}>\end{align*}<tt> has a stressed vowel right in front of it and an unstressed vowel right after it, it tends to become something in between [d] and [t] that linguists call a flap-[d]. The word flapis meant to indicate that it is a sound somewhat quicker than a full [d]. Technically, what is happening is that the [t], which is normally a voiceless sound (that is, pronounced with no vibration of the vocal cords), picks up some voicing (or vibration of the vocal cords) from the surrounding vowels, which are voiced. (In less technical terms, we tend to start the cords buzzing with the preceding vowel and just keep them buzzing through the following vowel, rather than turning them on, then off for the [t], then on again.) Since [d] is the voiced counterpart of the voiceless [t], the result is a pronunciation of [t] that sounds like [d]. Most desk dictionaries show the sound spelled <t> and \begin{align*}<\mathrm{tt}>\end{align*}<tt> in such words as [t], ignoring the flap-[d] pronunciation. But Webster's Third International Unabridged gives both [d] and [t] as pronunciations for them.

This technical point is obviously not something to inflict on youngsters. It is mentioned here simply to encourage you to resist any temptation you may have to correct the pronunciation of students who seem to have more of a [d] than a [t] in their pronunciation of such words. They have Webster's Third and professional linguists on their side! Also, it is remotely possible that a student may notice the variation and ask about it. In case of such an astonishing event, I recommend that you praise the student for having a good ear, indeed, and explain that it is true that in such words as hotter and the others the [t] can begin to sound more like a [d], but that since the spelling is <t> or \begin{align*}<\mathrm{tt}>\end{align*}<tt>, we (and most dictionaries) choose to treat the pronunciation as a [t]. For more on the flap-[d], see AES, pp. 338-39, and for the related flap-[t], see AES, pp. 342-43. (The flap-[t] is the thing that can sneak in between the [n] and the [s] of, say, sense, causing it to rhyme with cents.)

Word Pyramids. There are different legitimate solutions to most Word Pyramids. The minimum requirements are that each word used must be listed in a reputable dictionary and must contain the target spelling feature. For instance, in the last Pyramid above, the following four-letter words with <t> can be spelled from the letters in after, fate, feat, feta, frat, raft, rate, tare, tear. (You can decide how to handle the unfortunate possibility fart.) All of these four-letter words contain three-letter words that in turn contain two-letter words—fat, rat, and aft, for instance. So all eight can lead to legitimate solutions. But after also contains the less-common four-letter <t> words fret, reft, and tref, each of which contains only the three-letter <t> words eft and ret. Neither eft nor ret contains any two-letter words that contain <t>. So fret, reft, and tref cannot lead to a solution.

Notice that in those Pyramids that require each word to contain a specific letter, the top space must always be that specific letter. Dictionaries treat all letters as if they were words, giving their pronunciations, plural forms, and parts of speech.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
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Apr 29, 2014
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