Friday, 2 October 2015

Word-medial glottal stop

Glottal stops do not only occur at the beginning of words which otherwise start with a vowel, e.g. amond, enter, idea, but may also be heard word-medially before a syllable with an initial vowel. Inserting glottal stops word-medially is by no means unusual. Here's an example taken from a speech Tony Blair gave in 1996 in Blackpool at the Labour Party conference. He said:
Ask me my three main priorities for government, and I tell you: education, education and education.
Listen to the way he pronounces priorities.


Wednesday, 30 September 2015

voiced interdental /l/

Paul Carley has found a video in which Ed Miliband pronounces the words "Labour" and "Let's" with a voiced interdental /l/.
Miliband says
1. "Labour plan for Britain's future"
2. "Let's make it happen together"

no. 1: "Labour" (credit: BBC News)

no. 2: "Let's" (credit: BBC News)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

length becomes lenth

Paul Carley spotted another interesting pronunciation variant - it's that for the word length. LPD3 presents the results of an opinion poll on the BrE pronunciation of it: 48% prefer /leŋθ/, 36% favour /leŋkθ/ and 16% vote for /lentθ/. To the latter pronunciation John Wells adds a symbol indicating that it is a British English non-RP variant. CEPD18 has /leŋkθ/ only. Here are two short sections taken from BBC News of 22 September 2015:


The speaker is Danny Savage.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Brian Sewell - RIP

Brian Sewell, art critic, columnist and writer, died in his London home on the 19th of September, 2015. He was not only renowned for his pungent, waspish, rapier-sharp remarks, but also for his 'privileged', genteel pronunciation, whch made quite a few people become prickly. In his words, he had the voice of an "Edwardian lesbian". Well, form your own judgment; there are lots of sound samples on the internet.

Here's a short extract from an interview which must have taken place in or shortly after 1979:


Saturday, 19 September 2015

English-French-German jingle

You might want to read this blog by Peter Roach first before you continue with the present comment. One of the followers of Peter's blog asked for the sound files to be supplied. It's a jingle of a windscreen repair company in English, French and German (there may be versions in other languages as well, but I haven't checked this yet). The various rhythms are the interesting part.

Here they are:




Thursday, 17 September 2015

listen to (the) unconscious

'Listen to the unconscious'? You may think that I've gone loopy. Whether this is true or not is not for me to decide.
What I want you to do is listen to the word in this recording and tell me if you spot a not too rare phonetic phenomenon.


(My thanks to Paul Carley for the link.)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

epenthetic glottal stop

Sharp-eared Paul Carley spotted an interesting instance of epenthesis. To preserve the sound sample for some time, I recorded it for you to listen to. It's in an interview by BBC Radio 4 with Diane Abbott, Labour MP for HackneyNorth and Stoke Newington.
 Paul found an epentheticglottal stop in the word also in this sentence of hers:
You can also serve - we also serve - we serve on the back benches.
Listen to the sound file:

This is a rather rare instance of epenthesis of a glottal plosive between /l/ and /s/.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

mp3 files

Here's a short but excellent introduction, written by Sidney Wood, into the mp3 digital audio compression format. If you're not familiar with what mp3 does to your recordings and to your ears, you should read this intro first. For presentations of sound files on the internet it may at times be necessary to compress the original sound file to save storage space and/or avoid long loading times. Once you've converted a high-quality recording into the mp3-format, you should try to avoid re-encoding it if and when you change the volume or cut and paste it.

MP3directcut claims to allow mp3 files to be manipulated without a further quality loss due to re-encoding. I haven't tested this (and I don't get any royalties for writing about the product). Here's the link to the software, which is free.

mp3DirectCut - direct mp3 editor, splitter, cutter and recorder

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Compression and W. R. Evans

I wrote in a postscript to my blog of the sixth of July (see here) that I could not find anything about W. R. Evans, who had used the term 'compression' to describe the reduction of diphthongs to simple vowel sounds. Jack Windsor Lewis in his blog no. 502 of the 7th of August kindly referred me to the journal 'Phonetische Studien', in which Evans had published two articles which dealt with the Bell vowel system.

In volume 2 (1889) on p. 112 of said periodical I found an obituary for William Robert Evans:

Evans was an autodidact in matters phonetic. He "conducted" (as it pleased Evans to call it) the journal The spelling experimenter and phonetic investigator, which appeared in two volumes from 1880 to 1883. Evans ran a small print shop in London. He died from pulmonary consumption in London on the 21st of June 1888.