In Canadian English, there are several ways to pronounce the letter /T/. This depends on where the letter is in the word and whether it begins a stressed syllable or not. If so, the sound is sharp and has quite a bit of air. But what about the /T/ between two vowels when the following syllable isn’t stressed? For example, the words “city,” “pattern” or “later.” In Canada, we tend to pronounce this /T/ very softly and almost as a /D/. So for example, the words “latter” and “ladder” can sound pretty much the same here.

The following article discusses this particular way of pronouncing /T/ which confuses many non-native speakers.

Canadian and American /T/

Like several older Canadian I’ve heard, Munro’s accent strikes me as, in some respects, less marked (from an American perspective) than that of many younger Canadians; her Canadian Vowel shift seems rather intermittent. She exhibits, however, a feature that has always struck me as being a slight if inconsistent divider between Canadian and American English: she sometimes pronounces the /t/ in words like “later” and “writer” with an aspirated plosive where many Americans would use a tapped or voiced vowel (i.e. “writer” and “rider” would sound roughly the same).*

My impression is that Canadians these days more likely to use the same consonant in “rider” as the one they use in “writer.” But I can’t say how much of a change this is; it seems to me that there used to be more Americans who used un-tapped /t/ in these words as well, and it’s likely that, conversely, tapped /t/ has been a feature in Canadian English for a long time.

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