Technical questions about the sound patterns of English.

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2
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2answers
2k views

Is “a/an” an example of liaison in English?

French there is a process called liaison, where final consonants are omitted unless the next word starts with a vowel. Would it be accurate to say that the English indefinite article (a/an) is an ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Pronunciation of final T sounds in English

What's the word to describe the phenomenon of the final 't' sound becoming a stop without aspiration, vs. how it sounds at the beginning of a word? Does any one particular dialect/accent of English ...
-1
votes
2answers
272 views

How are names ending in “-s” perceived?

Most English nouns are inflected for grammatical number by adding -s — e.g., cat and cats, where cats is and sounds plural. So, I wonder, since Lucas, Nicholas, and other English names end with -s, ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is it “Paris’s cafés” but “Massachusetts’ capital”?

I’ve been studying the apostrophe and found this in Merriam-Webster’s Guide to Punctuation and Style: The possessives of proper names are generally formed in the same way as those of common nouns. ...
-3
votes
2answers
788 views

Are there are more vowels in the American English than in British? [closed]

car, father, jarring ■ man, lad, mast A British guy would pronounce the vowel "a" equally in all these words. But an American would give one sound for the first three words, and the other ...
0
votes
1answer
515 views

Reform of English writing?

As is commonly known, English is quite notorious for having a writing system that is far removed from the actual way it is most commonly pronounced. I understand that there are important historical ...
0
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1answer
3k views

How to pronounce the final “s” in plural nouns

Could you please help find which word below is pronounced differently from the rest with regard to the final s? caves marks exams days I choose number 2, marks.
10
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3answers
3k views

“nt” pronounced as “n” in American English (as in “Internet”): what is it called?

I know that pronouncing "t" as "d" is called a flap t, but is there a name for pronouncing "nt" as "n" in some words, as is common in American English? Examples: "Internet" is pronounced as "inner ...
0
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0answers
32 views

English phonetics References [duplicate]

What are some great references on English pronunciation practices? The book The Big Book of Beastly Mispronunciations was mentioned in an answer on this site. Is it considered authoritative? What ...
0
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3answers
639 views

When we will use soft and hard sound in 'c'? [closed]

Sometimes we use the soft sound, and sometimes the hard – but why? Is there any rule?
-3
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1answer
276 views

Which best describes the English language?

English has complex morphology and less rigid phonology. English has less complex phonology but more rigid morphology. English has both rigid and complex morphology and phonology.
6
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2answers
3k views

Why don't “-use” verb-noun pairs obey initial stress derivation?

It's well known (and several past questions on this SE have covered) that to convert a two-syllable Latin-derived English verb into a noun, you shift the stress to the first syllable. This is ...
2
votes
2answers
665 views

What’s the difference between /ӕ/ and /ɑ/?

. . . alibis . . . appetite . . . rather . . . Mark . . . [audio source] The first two a’s are different in their phonetic symbols in the dictionaries from the other two, but I can’t differentiate. ...
16
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2answers
45k views

Why is the “L” silent when pronouncing “salmon”?

Why is the letter l silent when pronouncing salmon properly?
21
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4answers
743 views

Why do photons and protons exhibit such anomalous behavior?

I first noticed in this answer that there is something sneaky going on with the word photon: its ‹t› is the stressed allophone of /t/, a fully aspirated [tʰ]. It does not reduce to [t] or [ɾ] the way ...
23
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a rule for pronouncing “th” at the beginning of a word?

Consider the th in thistle versus the th in this: the former is unvoiced, while the latter is voiced. Is there a rule or reason for the differences?
5
votes
1answer
533 views

About pronouncing the 's' in plural nouns

A general rule of English pronunciation states that the 's' in plural nouns is to be pronounced as /z/ if it is preceded by a 'voiced consonant' such as /n/ or /g/, and as /s/ if it is preceded by a ...
8
votes
4answers
18k views

Syllable division of VCV pattern in words such as “salad” and “lemon”

In words such as salad /sæləd/, you have a VCV pattern (vowel-consonant-vowel), in which the first vowel is short. The syllable division of such words is generally done after the consonant, i.e, as ...
2
votes
1answer
589 views

Why does the letter “a” correspond to /ɪ/ in words like “image”, “private” and “surface” (American English)?

In American English, in words ending with -age, -ate and -ace, the ‹a› correspond to /ɪ/ (short i). Examples: image, village, damageprivate, senate, separatesurface, preface, palace (It should be ...
12
votes
1answer
352 views

Why doesn't “wish” have the letter “n” in it?

The English word "wish" is akin to the German word "wünschen", the reconstructed Proto-Germanic word being "wunskijanan" (according to Wiktionary). What happened to the letter n in the middle of the ...
5
votes
1answer
6k views

Hwat, hwere, and hwy?

In which English accents do they put an h before every word that starts with wh? Example from Youtube. Notice his pronunciation of whisky.
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Looking for a minimal triple

I am looking for a minimal triple for a particular set of phonemes. By minimal triple, I mean three actual English words that differ in one and only one phoneme between them. Examples therefore ...
3
votes
1answer
663 views

Pronunciation of voiced “th” triggers a consonant shift of “d” and “r”

There is a class of words, mainly such as the, this, that, these, those, though, although, then, there, thus, the archaic thou, thee, thy, thine, thyself, thence; which I always find myself ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Variations in the pronunciation of “ea”

Perhaps this is more of a Linguistics question, so I apologize if this is not posted in the right place. Why is it that these words in English sound so different? earth   = /ɜrθ/     “urth” hearth ...
3
votes
4answers
545 views

What is a “sounds like” thesaurus called?

A dictionary contains word definitions. A thesaurus contains words that mean the same (synonyms). I'm looking for a name for a word dictionary that will give you rhymes (or "sounds like") of a word. ...
22
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8answers
2k views

Are “traitor” and “trader” pronounced the same?

Are "traitor" and "trader" distinguishable when spoken with any English accent? My English-speaking friends seem to pronounce them exactly the same way.
3
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4answers
4k views

Do phonetic symbols have names in English?

I know diacritical marks have names in English: cedilla, umlaut, etc. Are there names for phonetic symbols too? How does one call the "sh" sound which is referred to by the integral sign /∫/? Or the ...
5
votes
2answers
500 views

Why is “Conquer” pronounced /'kɔŋkɚ/ but not /'kɔŋkwɚ/

In English QU is always used as a digraph. Que pronounces the sound [K] at the ending of many words:unique, technique, antique, physique, clique, grotesque. However, the combination QU has the ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Does the 18th century contraction “on't” survive phonologically in English today?

The February 18th-24th edition of The Economist has an article titled "Neurons v free will" in which the author, Anthony Gottlieb begins by quoting Dr. Johnson's statement about free will: "Sir ...
8
votes
4answers
4k views

Pronunciation of vowel in vague as [æ] instead of [eɪ]

I have a friend who pronounces the vowel in plague, vague, and bagel as [æ] instead of the standard [eɪ] (so plague rhymes with flag, for instance). Interestingly, he apparently can't tell the ...
2
votes
2answers
531 views

Can vowels be combined in English without forming diphthongs?

Usually all combinations of vowels in English function as diphthongs. Are there any combinations of vowels in English that do not function as diphthongs? if there are no such examples - I would be ...
14
votes
1answer
734 views

Is the pronunciation of the letters “Y” and “I” supposed to be identical?

My son and I were reciting the Spanish alphabet recently. "Y" is i griega, which means "Greek i." This got me thinking about the English letter Y and its function in our alphabet. All of the words ...
5
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2answers
4k views

phonetics vs. phonology [closed]

I'm reading an article about phonetics and phonology, and it clamis that they are different. But I can't locate where the difference is located. Referring to my dictionary, I can see: Phonetics: ...
9
votes
5answers
564 views

How is the pronunciation of r before th? Specific case: “north”

Some consonants such as n,d,t are usually alveolar in English, except that they are replaced by dentals when they are before dental fricatives (th): tenth, said this, in the…. What about "r" before ...
8
votes
2answers
917 views

How do I represent the “-ed” in “witnessed” phonetically?

How do I represent the -ed in witnessed (or any other similar word) phonetically? Is there a reference sheet somewhere for these? I notice that other endings do not get shown in most dictionaries ...
10
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5answers
2k views

Are there any “-nk-” or “-nc-” words in English where there isn't a “ng” before the “k” sound?

In words like think and lank, we actually seem to be saying "thing-k" and "lang-k." Can anyone thing-k of any words or rules for sound use where this doesn't happen?
4
votes
2answers
478 views

What is the articulatory logic behind the “a/an” rule in English?

Is there some articulatory reason behind why we choose to preface consonant sounds with the article a and vowel sounds with an? The reasoning I've read in the comments somewhere, I don't remember ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the name of the phoneme produced in an upper-class Briton's pronunciation of the word “Duke”? What's different in the articulation?

When someone with a Received Pronunciation accent pronounces the word duke, as in The Duke of York, he doesn't pronounce it with a "hard" 'd', as one might pronounce the word duh, but a softer type ...
5
votes
3answers
290 views

Strange verb string tonal pattern

In a sentence involving a string of verbs as a list (as opposed to modifying each other), the standard American English tonal pattern for that string almost always begins high and decreases in pitch ...
15
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4answers
2k views

How do you proceed from pronouncing “t” in the regular way to t-glottalization, as found in various English accents?

It's just strange to me because "t" is pronounced with the front teeth, while the glottalized "t" is produced with the back of the throat; that seems like quite a noticeable journey that couldn't have ...
3
votes
2answers
12k views

Semi-vowels in English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is “Y” a vowel? Why are 'w' and 'y' called semi-vowels in English?
12
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1answer
443 views

Ordering of English sound changes in verbal morphology

As we all know, the Early Modern English 3sg verbal ending -eth has become -s in Modern English. This presumably happened in two steps: Elision of the unstressed e in the final syllable Changing ...
11
votes
5answers
7k views

Why is “t” sometimes pronounced like “d” in American English?

Why, in American English, is the word Italy is pronounced /ˈɪdəli/ and not /ˈɪtəli/? What is the rule that is followed in the pronunciation of Italy to make the letter t pronounced like a d? Why is ...
0
votes
3answers
6k views

What words have “‑ei‑” (except in “‑cei‑”) pronounced [i:]?

The rule is that written ei is pronounced [i:] only after the letter c — or that what is pronounced [i:] is written ei after the letter c only. Here are exceptions I’ve found so far: foreign ...
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2answers
1k views

Why are many TV personalities beginning to pronounce “daughter” as “dotter”?

I have noticed the changing of proununciations of words with -au and -aw by TV presenters which is spilling over into everyday speech. For example “dotter” for daughter, “otto” for auto, “jah” for ...
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2answers
6k views

Sounds of the letter a

How can I know, precisely, when to differentiate the sounds of the letter a, like in: apple and vault?
7
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1answer
795 views

How did the “double consonant to shorten vowel” thing come about? (“furry” vs. “fury”)

In English, a doubled consonant most commonly means "shorten the previous vowel", where "shorten" means map phonemes like this: [aɪ] -> [i] [oʊ] -> [ɔ] etc For example, fury is pronounced [fjʊri] ...
31
votes
4answers
4k views

Why did only English undergo the Great Vowel Shift, making pronunciation stray so far from spelling?

Lots of people have wondered why English seems to be one of very few languages with such irregular spelling, far from its pronunciation. The answers include the Norman invasion, and the Great Vowel ...
11
votes
7answers
4k views

How can I practice differentiating between the “æ” and “ɛ” sounds in English phonology?

For a non-native English speaker like me, it's always been hard to sound æ and ɛ differently. For example, "salary" and "celery" are two words that I tend to pronounce identically. Is it OK to go on ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies?

Written English vowels differ from other Latin-based orthographies. Consider what the written vowels in the romance languages represent. Also, for example, consider this simple comparision between a ...