A student in my department is working on the use of a particular variant of /t/, usually called fricativized /t/, in the speech of Irish English speaking immigrants in New York. Phonetically, this /t/ is characterized by a coronal closure followed by a particularly noisy sibilant-like release. She asked me what would be the best symbol to transcribe this phoneme with. The only researcher to previously discuss this sound and give it a symbol is Raymond Hickey, who has used a [t] with a carat underneath (i.e. the voicing symbol, only upside down). I asked her why she didn’t just use [ts], and she said that she really didn’t want people mistaking this variant with an affricate.
So my question is, what has the symbol [ts] been used for in the past, and would it be an appropriate transcription for the fricativized Irish English /t/ described above?