Technical questions about the sound patterns of English.

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6
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2answers
664 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
130 views

“Initial” is pronounced “inishal,” so why isn't the verb “initiate” pronounced “inishate”?

Trying to answer a recent question about the pronunciation of the consonant "c" in the word word appreciate made me realize something I'm ignorant about: although I've read in a fair amount of places ...
5
votes
4answers
3k views

Silent letters in English [closed]

With the help of dictionaries, I’ve assembled a list of letters that can be silent in English: For most letters, I found more than one example, what are the other examples of a silent z (...
5
votes
2answers
2k 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 jaw,...
5
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2answers
3k views

Is there such a thing as an unvoiced vowel?

I can't think of any and google has not been helpful.
5
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2answers
235 views

Can you hear the difference between 'Writer' and 'Rider'? Why?

Apologies in advance for the slightly blog-like nature of this question. The Background Some of the comments in relation to this question here: Unvoiced /dʒ/ and /ʒ/ in word final position ... ...
5
votes
2answers
371 views

Strong /strɔːŋ/ → stronger /strɔːŋɡər/ - Why do we have to put an extra /g/ in front of /ər/? Is it a rule?

Ok, see this in the dictionary: Strong /strɔːŋ/ --> Stronger /strɔːŋɡər/ Why do we have to put an extra /g/ in front of /ər/? But "/sing" /sɪŋ/ & "/singer" /ˈsɪŋər/ do not adhere to that rule. ...
5
votes
1answer
643 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 '...
5
votes
1answer
184 views

What do you call an interfix that has semantic meaning?

At university I was introduced to various affixes; prefix, suffix, interfix. The latter, I was told, could be created by putting an adjective in the middle of a word, thus interrupting it; abso-...
5
votes
1answer
548 views

Difference between word-final iː, i and ɪ

As we know, English usually contrasts the two high front vowels /i:/ and /ɪ/, and many different minimal pairs exist for this (e.g. /sli:p/ vs /slɪp/). However, at the end of a word, we usually have ...
5
votes
1answer
114 views

Why and when was the trilled R in middle English replaced by the modern untrilled one?

Most linguists agree that the letter R in middle English was trilled, but why and when did people replace it with untrilled one like ⟨ɹ⟩ in "red", or even become "almost" silent like in "her (British ...
5
votes
3answers
298 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
7k 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 /...
4
votes
1answer
200 views

Why are there no English nouns starting with “th” pronounced as /ð/?

I just saw a claim that there are no nouns in English that start with "th" pronounced as /ð/, and I am convinced that is correct for at least Received Pronunciation, General American and Australian ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “have” pronounced with a “short a” sound?

As far as I'm aware, every word of the form consonant-a-v-e has a long a sound - cave, Dave, fave, gave, lave, nave, pave, rave, save and wave - every word except have. What is the story behind this ...
4
votes
1answer
162 views

So, “carrots too” (/ˈkærəts tuː/) can sound like “Carrot Sue” (/ˈkærət suː/), right?

Look at this video at 1:09 (Source). The man said "carrots too" /ˈkærəts tuː/ but it sounds like he said /ˈkærət suː/. The /t/ got omitted completely. However, I don't see people omit /t/ in "stamp" /...
4
votes
3answers
177 views

/ɪə/, /eə/, /ʊə/ as phonemes?

From what I understand on phonetics/phonology, /ɪə/, /eə/, /ʊə/ can simply be considered as allophones of /ɪr/, /er/, /ʊr/, but most traditional dictionaries treat them as distinct phonemes. Is that ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Are what-cha and arent-cha examples of elision?

Are these words examples of elision? What effect do they create? If a child says them what does this suggest about their language development? Thanks for any help!!
4
votes
2answers
3k views

American English Pronunciation of “o” sound long or short?

I'm always confused about how to pronounce words with letter o in spelling. For example, in the word boss, I always pronounce the o as short o, when in fact it is long o. Collar is short, but I always ...
4
votes
3answers
491 views

Dialect “rules” and the pronunciation of individual words

Consider an American actor who is tasked with mastering British Received Pronunciation for an upcoming role. If he has a talent for vocal mimicry, as many actors do, he should have no trouble picking ...
4
votes
2answers
638 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
63 views

What's the current scholarly opinion on the “minims” explanation for the spelling of “love”, “tongue,” etc?

According to the Online Etymology dictionary (as cited in this question How was the letter -u- written in Old English?): The substitution of Middle English -o- for Old English -u- before -m-, -n-...
3
votes
3answers
525 views

Not fully pronounced oʊ (ō) sound in some words

Words like so, no, vocabulary, and don’t all contain the long o sound inside them. But I regularly hear native English speakers pronouncing the [oʊ] sound in these words (and some others containing ...
3
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2answers
11k 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?
3
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5answers
289 views

Are there any English words starting with an “ny” sound? [closed]

Plenty of English words have an "ny" sound (/nj/) in the middle, like onion and canyon. Are there any American English words that start with this sound? My native-speaker intuition tells me this is ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Correct pronunciation of “TT”? [closed]

A single t between vowels sounds like a d to me (or like an r in my language, Brazilian Portuguese). May I say the tt spelling the same way, or does that only work for a single t?
3
votes
2answers
22k views

Semi-vowels in English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is “Y” a vowel? Why are 'w' and 'y' called semi-vowels in English?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

How many phonemes are in the word “queen”?

I am in the process of digging into phonemes as a way to help teach our son to read. I don't remember ever having formal instruction on the role of phonemes in speech, and I am actually having a lot ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does the pronunciation of “U” vary in English?

The letter U is pronounced differently in different words such as Umbrella and Utensils, as well as when it is Used inside of words such as stUdent and stUdy. Can I please have a grammatical ...
3
votes
4answers
862 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. ...
3
votes
1answer
850 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
70 views

Theoretical Phonemes [closed]

I have been looking at IPA recently and I was wondering if there are any sounds that can theoretically be created by humans but do not exist or have not existed in any known languages. Or maybe a ...
3
votes
2answers
163 views

Do we need to put extra sound W or J in front of L in the case of /ei+L/ or /ee+L/ or /ai+L/ or /oo+L/ or /oi+L/ in American English?

Ok, let see the sale /seɪl/, that is from IPA but when speak American English, do we have to put /seɪ-jl/ (sound like sei jo) Similarly, feel /fiːl/ will become /fiː jl/ or mile /maɪl/ will become /...
3
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
142 views

Linking /r/ and elision

In one of my lectures after learning about several processes of connected speech (namely assimilation, elision and linking) we were faced with a transcription exercise with which I have slight problem ...
3
votes
1answer
168 views

Why are there two sets of vowels in English? [closed]

I'm a native Spanish speaker and I've been learning English for many years. They always taught us that there are two sets of vowels and we learned how to use them mostly by reading and practicing, no ...
3
votes
2answers
137 views

Why is “I believe in woman” ok? Or isn't it? (from Slade's “My Oh My”)

This first line of the song is I believe in woman, my oh my. I'm not a native speaker, but that sounds odd to me. I'd either expect women (I believe in women [in general]) or some kind of determiner (...
3
votes
2answers
471 views

Words like “threshold”?

Threshold is pronounced like "thresh-hold" as noted in this question, however, what is interesting is that there is only one h in the word, and it serves two phonetic roles (being part of sh and as a ...
3
votes
1answer
58 views

Could you explain the differences among voiced stop, voiceless unaspirated stop & voiceless aspirated stop?

Look at this picture for explaining various mechanics of pronunciation with the vocal cords. Source: wikimedia commons I don't understand it much. Here is what I understood -voiced stop: your ...
3
votes
3answers
700 views

Why are “suffice” and “sufficient” pronounced so differently?

Today I heard somebody use a form of the verb "suffice" (which means "to be sufficient") pronouncing it like the verb "surface" without an r (and where that "a" makes more of an "i" sound). This ...
3
votes
1answer
310 views

Are English speakers reluctant to use /l/ in a consonant cluster mid word?

A relative of mine recently went on a rant regarding the pronunciation of 'jewelry' (as joo-la-ree) and 'realtor' (as ree-la-ter). It reminded me of the oft criticized pronunciation of 'nuclear' and I ...
3
votes
1answer
261 views

How many syllables were in 3ps endings with -th

When reading the King James Version of the Bible, we often hear, e.g., "maketh" pronounced in two syllables. Is this an accurate reflection of the pronunciation of that word when it was commonly used?
3
votes
2answers
404 views

AmE Phonetics: T-voicing after <l>

Cut to the chase: While listening Eminem's track Headlights I've noticed a kinda voicing process in the sentence "You're still beautiful to me" around 1:13 on the song, where the preposition seems to ...
3
votes
1answer
818 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
292 views

What is the term for when a word begins with the previous word's ending sound?

What is the term for when a word begins with the same sound as the previous word's ending sound? For example, there are three instances of this in one line of the lyrics to For the First Time in ...
2
votes
2answers
739 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
84 views

'Travel' - Place of articulation of /t/

What is a place of articulation which best fits the initial consonant of the word: "travel." It looks like the first sound is /t/ therefore it should be alveolar, but in the Longman pronunciation ...
2
votes
3answers
191 views

Missing sound: final skt letters

I've noticed that many Americans in movies usually omit letter k when it falls between s and t sounds at the end of any word like in asked, tasked, Can we generalize that as a rule, so the word ...
2
votes
3answers
695 views

Is final /n/ sound reduced / nasalized in American English?

When my 6-year old daughter spells words phonetically, she regularly drops final 'n' at ends of syllables, after vowels, like "rabo" for "rainbow", "lach" for "lunch". This made me wonder, are we ...
2
votes
1answer
119 views

Diminished “R” Phoneme in NE AmE & BrE

Q: New Englanders habitually mute or diminish the R phoneme (?) in many words, (park, car, Harvard, etc.). What is the name of this characteristic of their speech? So many of the patterns of New ...