Friday, 21 November 2014

Uneasy listening #2

The very first word of Ms Maier's talk is this:

video

It sounds like [θræʊt], doesn't it? What I did next was to start with the first 30 ms of the word and then add 30 ms each time till the end of the word (30, 60, 90, ... 300, 330, 360 ms). Listen to this:


video

Here's the first word followed by the next one. Can you decode what she wants to say?

video

The problem of understanding this phrase (and many others in her speech) lies in the fact that she compresses a disyllabic word to a monosyllable. What may make things even more complicated is the fact that this compression happens at the very beginning of her speech when the listener's ears and brain have not become attuned to her dropping-one's-syllables style.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Uneasy listening

No, I'm not referring to the Finnish band HIM. It's rather about this lady's style of enunciation:

video


Ms Eleanor Maier - a senior editor of the OED and no doubt a lover of language - addresses a world-wide audience including many non-native speakers of British English. Has it never occurred to her or to the other OUP staff responsible for this video clip that this speech is difficult to understand, distracts listeners from the contents because they are forced to concentrate on guessing where all the syllables have gone that she dropped? You may judge me as being too harsh in my verdict, but I think she should take a few elocution lessons before she produces another video clip addressed to a world-wide audience.

I'm going to look into her enunciation in a later post.

Monday, 17 November 2014

listening comprehension - top down or bottom up - #2

Sidney Wood - one of my blog followers - commented on my previous post on listening comprehension by saying that the extract sounds like [ɘˈləðə]. What follows is the section (highlighted in the waveform in dark grey) which for my ears corresponds to [ɘˈləðə]:

video

What you see below is the waveform of the snippet in my previous post:

video
The latter includes the verb 'have'.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

ejectives again

On the 26th of December 2011 I wrote a blog post on ejectives in English. I've come across another sample recently. BBC Radio 4 announced an analysis of the impact of the Scottish referendum to be broadcast on the 18th of November 2014. In this announcement one could hear the voice of a lady (probably Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws) using the verb 'think' twice. The first version is the one with the ejective k-sound.

video

Saturday, 15 November 2014

listening comprehension - top down or bottom up - #1

Try to understand this snippet (text is repeated once):

video

Here is the whole sentence:

video

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

smoothing #2

"Investigators are trying to find ou what caused a serious fire in a cooling tower of a power station."1 This is a sentence read by Sarah Montague, BBC news presenter, on the 20th of October this year.

Listen to the sentence and concentrate on the words in red.

video
Sarah Montague (credit: BBC)

If you are an EFL learner, you might want to make a recording of your own version of this sentence. Then compare it with Ms Montague's and concentrate on the vowels in these three words. Does she pronounce fire as  /aɪə/ or /aə/ or /a:/? What about the other two words? Do YOU pronounce them with a diphthong plus schwa or even with a monophthong? Try to imitate the way she pronounces them. Needless to say that you do not have to pronounce these and similar words like that, but it's a nice exercise.

Besides: Can you pronounce the initial phrase "[i]bvestigators are trying to find out" at a similar speed? Try this as well.







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1My thanks go to Paul Carley

Sunday, 9 November 2014

picture = pitcher?

LPD 3 offers two pronunciations for picture, one of which however is marked with a special symbol indicating that though this variant pronunciation is very frequent it is not considered correct in GB/RP:
/pɪʧə/
I've recently come across this 'yucky' pronunciation while I was listening to one of the instalments of the BBC Radio 4 series "Germany: Memories of a Nation". "One Nation under Goethe" was introduced by a female speaker who said:
Today he [= Neil MacGregor] is in Frankfurt and he has with him a picture of a young man.
Listen:
video
BTW: EPD 18 makes no mention of this variant.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

smoothing

I wrote a blog post on smoothing here and here. I'd like to add another post on this topic. The BBC presenter Shari Vahl on the 28th of this month in the BBC Radio 4 programme You & Yours said:

Shari Vahl (credit: RadioTimes)
In 2015 the Care Act will merge health and social care in the biggest reform of its kind in sixty years.
Paul Carley believes he can hear a difference between the two versions of the word care. He writes (on Facebook):
The first 'care' has the [ɛə] variant (though not by any means the most extensive off-glide), the second has the [ɛː] variant.
I listend to the two words myself several times: I can convince myself to hear an offglide in the first version, but then after a while I am certain it's a monophthongal [ɛː] just like in the second version. This is not unusual if and when the differences (should they exist) are so minute and if it's a sound track most likely compressed in quality for the purposes of the internet.

Listen for yourselves (you're going to hear Care1 and care2 in a row, first at normal speed and then slowed down by 30 per cent):

video

Even slowing down the playback speed doesn't convince me thoroughly.
Next I looked at the spectrograms:
care1 (= Care Act)

care2
Not much of a difference, is there?

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

When's Chewsday in LPD and EPD?

credit: burnspetfood

I checked various editions of both EPD and LDP to see when the pronunciation of Tuesday as /ʧuːzdeɪ, -dɪ/ was first 'licensed' by the respective (and respectable) author(s).

LPD1 (1990) has it as a second entry indicating it's a "variant derived by rule" (p. xxviii).
EPD14 (1977) does not show it as a variant but EPD15 of 1997 does1.

Go on chewing then!


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1 Thanks to Jack Windsor Lewis for checking!