Friday, 24 July 2015

From the press

Public Radio International has provided us with this breaking news:

"It looks like the distinctive, almost-rolling "R" may be dissapearing [sic] from the Scottish accent.

Eleanor Lawson is a sociolinguist at the University of Glasgow and Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh and has conducted research on the phenomenon.
In words like "car," "cart," and "first," speakers are no longer using the typical "rhotic r" but pronouncing the word more like a British or Anglican English speaker."
I wonder what the Anglican Church has to do with it.



BTW: The two journalists (or whatever they're called) seem to have a cavalier attitude towards spelling.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Is an experiment an expieriment?

Many of my German students of English who claim to speak GB pronounce experiment as  /e/ɪ/əkspɪrɪme/ənt/. Why? They either think of experience or picked up the GA pronunciation variant /-spɪr-/. This variant is attested in LPD3 and Merriam-Webster Online, but not in EPD18.

credit: dandelionmood

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Compression no. 2 (revised)

Compression as a phonetic term denotes the reduction of articulatory movements leading to
  1. a reduction of diphthongs plus schwa to diphthongs or monophthongs,
  2. a reduction of diphthongs to monophthongs,
  3. a change from a monophthong to an approximant, 
  4. a change from one vowel class to another or 
  5. coalescence. 
Here are some English examples illustrating the various subtypes:

1.1 a diphthong plus schwa becomes a diphthong: /ðə rɔɪəl fæmli/ -> /ðə rɔəl fæmli/ for <the royal family>
1.2 a diphthong plus schwa becomes a monophthong: /ən aʊər əweɪ/ -> /ən ɑːr əweɪ/ for <an hour away>
2. a diphthong becomes a monophthong: /ænjʊəl/ -> /ænjʊl/ for <annual>
3. a monophthong becomes an approximant: /reɪdiəʊ/ -> /reɪdjəʊ/ for <radio>
4. a change from one vowel class to another: /væljuː/ -> /væljʊ/ for <value>
5. coalescence: /wʊd juː/ -> /wʊʤʊ/ for <would you>

Monday, 6 July 2015

Compression as a phonetic term

The term compression in its phonetic sense denotes the reduction of articulatory movements leading to
  • a reduction of diphthongs plus schwa to diphthongs or monophthongs,
  • a reduction of diphthongs to monophthongs,
  • a change from a monophthong to an approximant, 
  • a change from one vowel class to another or 
  • coalescence. 
When was the term first used? The OED remains silent. It was by mere chance that I found a fairly early mention of the term in Notes on Spelling Reform of 1881 by W. R. Evans. On p.11 we read this:
During all the time occupied by these changes - the shifting of vowel-sounds step by step along the scale, the expansion of simple vowels into diphthongs, and the compression of diphthongs into simple sounds - the written form of the language remained nearly stereotyped as regards any indication of such changes, [...]

For earlier uses of the term it may be worthwhile to check "The Phonetic Journal", which was published from 1873 to 1905. It's a pity I don't have access to this journal.

BTW: I couldn't find anything on this W. R. Evans. The ODNB has but an entry on a clergyman by the same name. If any of my followers can enlighten me, I'd be most grateful.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

voice-over speaker on Mrs Bach

I recently watched the film Written by Mrs Bach broadcast by BBC Four. Amongst the academics who were interviewed on the issue of whether Anna Magdalena Bach could have been the composer of several pieces generally attributed to Johann Sebastian, there were two German specialists on Bach. They made their comments in German and accordingly had to be translated. Listen to this extract of the voice-over speaker and tell me if, like me, something strikes you as odd in her enunciation.

video

Monday, 9 March 2015

Some typical pronunciation mistakes by (my) students learning English

Students in my phonetics classes may choose between General American and General British pronunciation (native speakers of English are exempt).

Here are some more or less frequent mistakes which popped up in this semester's viva voces:
  1. word-final fortissification (e.g. bag -> back)
  2. the TRAP vowel is replaced by the DRESS vowel
  3. the word ending <-ction> is pronounced /-kʧən/
  4. /v/ and /w/ are mixed up
  5. word-initial /br, bl, dr, gr, gl, ʤ/ are replaced by /pr, pl, tr, kr, kl, ʧ/
  6. one man, but two /mən/ or /mɪn/
  7. he was /bjurɪd, bərɪd, bʌrɪd/ in a /tɒm(b)/
  8. determined may materialise as /'detəmaɪnd, dɪ'tɜːmaɪnd, 'diːtəmaɪnd/
  9. /dɪs'mɪʃəl/
  10. sentence-final hotel or unfair are stressed  /'həʊtəl/ and /'ʌnfeə/.
Students who claim to speak General British frequently pronounce got as /gɑt, gat/.
For some the phrase Edith's birthday poses serious problems.

    Saturday, 17 January 2015

    PhonetiBlog - part 6

    We're looking forward to blogs 502 - 600.

    28/07/2015
    #501

    Friday, 16 January 2015

    PhonetiBlog - part 5



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