Sunday, 20 April 2014

smoked salmon or mother-in-law

Question: Does everyone happen to have smoked salmon in the freezer or is it just my mother-in-law?

credit: Ryan Lerch

Reaction 1: We only have fresh salmon in the freezer ... and no family members.

Reaction 2: Quick, bury her in the garden!

Reaction 3: Why does your frozen mother-in-law look like smoked salmon?

Reaction 4: Most people wouldn't have room for salmon once the mother-in-law ...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

GIM 8 - 3rd blog

Let's take a closer look at the description of the KIT vowel in GIM 8 and concentrate on those variants which are considered to belong to either GB or CGB.
For the purpose of easier reference I took the liberty to modify the corresponding figure (number 13 on p.115). This is what my version of it looks like (the five variants are assumed to be numbered consecutively 1 to 5 from top to bottom, i.e. "i (finally)" is no.1):

Variant no. 1 is to be heard from GB speakers in final unstressed position as in heavy, bickie, bevy, many. Variant no. 2 represents the typical GB pronunciation of the KIT vowel in stressed position, e.g. in pit, lip, sit.
There is another variant used by GB speakers in non-final unaccented position, e.g. in the word visible. The penultimate is unstressed and the vowel tends to be more centralised. This fact is not visualised in the original figure of GIM 8. You can see it as variant no. 3 in my modified version. Next, we have variant no. 4, which represents the diphthongisation of the KIT vowel in monosyllabic words by CGB speakers (e.g. dib, fig with [ɪə]). Variant no.5 is the CGB allophone to be heard in final positions of words such as university or liberty.

My thanks to Alan Cruttenden for elucidating me on these variants.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Say, I am happy!

Samuel Beckett
credit: Roger Pic
In the second act of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, we are presented with these verbal symmetries:

Say, I am happy.
I am happy.
So am I.
So am I.
We are happy.
We are happy.
What do we do, now that we are happy?
Wait for Godot.

Barry Cusack drew my attention to a BBC Radio 4 broadcast from the 31st of March, which contains a sound snippet from a performance of Waiting for Godot. The interesting thing is that the two actors employ different word-final KIT vowels in the word happy. Listen:


The first actor has a KIT vowel in unstressed word-final position which is rather at the half-close level whereas the second uses an /ɪ/ more at the close level.

I couldn't find out the names of the actors, so I can't tell you anything about their age or professional training.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

quasihomophonous lacquer

This is what I found in an advert by a German DIY company:

credit: Bauhaus

Saturday, 29 March 2014

short story stressed

credit: Harry Clarke

"The Tell-Tale Heart" is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe.

As you know, not each and every short story is a short story in the technical sense.

My question to you, dear follower who art an indigenous speaker of the English tongue, is this: What is the stress pattern of the term short story in my initial sentence?

Friday, 28 March 2014

'angry' Ken Livingstone

One of my followers in a comment on my blog post of the 11th of March writes that he's heard Ken Livingstone pronounce angry as [ɛəŋgri] with a word-initial diphthong, whereas another commentator believes the initial sound to be of a fairly steady-state type. In case you have no access to the sound file in question, here is a snippet. KL says (and mind the glottal replacement in get, which becomes [gɛʔ]): "[...] or get angry or unpleasant [...]".

 credit: BBC

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

John Wright - Speaking English

When looking into one of my drawers I found a long-forgotten magnetic tape:

I'm going to digitise it to preserve it. Does anybody have any details on the author John Wright?

Update: See comments to this blog entry!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

GIM 8 - 2nd blog

Two other variants are set off from General British: CGB and RGB.

CGB stands for Conspicuous General British. Who uses this variant? According to Cruttenden it is
to be associated with upper-class families, with public schools and with professions which have traditionally recruited from such families, e.g. officers in the navy and in some army regiments (81).
It is "commonly considered to be 'posh'" (81).
What are typical phonetic features? Here's a selection:
1. use of the KIT vowel in unstressed word-final position as in 'there's a universit/ɪ/ in our lovel/ɪ/ cit/ɪ/';
2. a very open word-final schwa as in 'wait[ɐ]', 'moth[ɐ]';
3. the ash vowel is frequently diphthongised as in [mɛəd] for 'mad'.

RGB is a hybrid variant mixing GB with a few regional features. Cruttenden concedes that the term should actually be used in its plural form - RGBs. In comparison with CGB, RGB is a cover term for regional variants rather than a marker of class or, in Cruttenden's words: "[...] it is useful to have such a term as RGB to describe the type of speech which is basically GB except for the presence of a few regional characteristics which may well go unnoticed even by other speakers of GB" (81). One of his examples is the vocalisation of dark l, which "passes virtually unnoticed in an otherwise fully GB accent" (82).

Monday, 3 March 2014

GIM 8 is available

The new, eighth edition of Gimson's Pronunciation of English by Alan Cruttenden is available now.

One of the eye-catchers will certainly be the replacement of RP (= Received Pronunciation) by the more neutral term GB (= General British). The latter was first mentioned in an academic publication by Jack Windsor Lewis in his 1972 book A Concise Pronouncing Dictionary of British and American English:

It took more than 40 years for the term GB to appear in another important book on the topic.
The reason why Cruttenden adopted GB as a term is summarised on p. 80, where he states that it was because of the "narrow use by many of the name RP, and the frequent hostility to it, the accent described in this book has been changed to General British (GB)." He then adds that "it has to be made clear that [...] it is not a different accent that is being described, but an evolved and evolving version of the same accent under a different name."

More about the new edition in a future blog.