Technical questions about the sound patterns of English.

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Narrow phonetic transcription sources

Is there any dictionary or website where I could find the narrow (allophonic) transcription of English words?
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48 views

Can you end one syllable words with a lax-vowel?

Is it OK proper to end a one-syllable word in a lax vowel? I only ask because of this comic strip XKCD. Hint - you have to hover your mouse over the image a bit for the alternate text to display.
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1answer
6k views

Are there any rules as to why the letter 'r' is silent in some words?

How do I know when to keep r silent in pronunciation? Examples: Not silent cry free friend Silent German iron learn
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0answers
71 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-...
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0answers
44 views

Distinguishing L-sounds, especially in British Received Pronunciation

The surprising range of L-sounds in all positions in a word across languages seems to create unexpected difficulties in explaining them to others, especially learners either to or from English. ...
135
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1answer
8k views

Why are the vowels in Christ and Christmas different? (and other strange diphthong behaviour)

Why are certain words pronounced with diphthongs on their own but with monophthongs in compounds? For example: Words pronounced with diphthongs on their own: Michael, Christ, wise, drive Their ...
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1answer
62 views

How do you pronounce these Greek letters in English dictionary definitions?

Dictionary definitions for the English language usually have the word spelled out in Greek letters to indicate how the word is pronounced phonetically. Examples highlighted: What are these Greek ...
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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 ...
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1answer
59 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 ...
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5answers
290 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 ...
45
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4answers
6k views

Why is ‘i’ in milk pronounced differently from ‘i’ in find?

As far as I know, in words of the structure CVCC, the vowel is usually short. Examples include milk, front, clamp, wasp, sport, etc. However, with some CC types, the vowel seems to always be long (...
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1answer
84 views

Why does /tər/ (/ˈdɑːktər/ doctor or /ˈsɪstər/ sister) in American Accent sound like /trə/?

I feel like /tər/ (/ˈdɑːktər/ doctor or /ˈsɪstər/ sister) in American Accent sound like /trə/. I couldn't find this info on the internet. It seems that when we curl up the blade of the tongue too ...
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1answer
137 views

Is there any Saxon word that contains /ʒ/?

Is there any Saxon (native) word that contains /ʒ/? All words containing that sound I can think of such as genre, garage, luge, vision, visual, etc. are from French.
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0answers
41 views

What is the phonetic realization of a sequence of “voiced-voiceless” or “voiceless-voiced” obstruents of the same place of articulation?

What is the phonetic realization of a sequence of "voiced-voiceless" or "voiceless-voiced" obstruents (especially sibilants) of the same place of articulation? For example, /zs/ as in "Mrs. Stratford",...
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2answers
1k views

American refusal of the IPA: why?

Are there any historical or political reasons for the rather consistent refusal of the International Phonetic Alphabet on the part of American academics? Did Mark Twain's home-made-English-spelling-...
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2answers
237 views

Is the change from “m” to “n” within the descent from O.E.“æmette” to E.“ant” a regular one?

emmet "ant," from O.E. æmete (see ant), surviving as a dialect word in parts of England; also, in Cornwall, a colloquial name for holiday tourists. According to Etymonline; I can't help ...
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1answer
80 views

Why /t/ after /k/ sometimes is pronounced like a mild aspirated T but sometimes is pronounced like unaspirated T?

See this word: doctor /ˈdɑːktər/, the /t/ in this case seems to be like a mild aspirated T (that is there may have a bit air coming out of your mouth) Source. But expected /ɪkˈspektɪd/, the /t/ in ...
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1answer
168 views

Which words have a long vowel before the suffix -ic?

In many cases in English, vowels followed by a single consonant are pronounced short (also called lax) when followed by the suffix -ic or -ical, even if they are long in other related words. Some ...
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0answers
53 views

'O' Pronunciation

I noticed recently that my friends and I pronounce words like "forest," "orange," and "florida" differently. For example, I noticed that there seem to be three ways that people pronounce these words: ...
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2answers
150 views

Did the Great Vowel Shift on the long vowel /i/ occur in non-primary stressed syllables?

From the Wikipedia article on the Great Vowel Shift . Middle English [iː] diphthongized to [ɪi], which was most likely followed by [əɪ] and finally Modern English [aɪ] (as in mice). I think the ...
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1answer
220 views

What accents pronounce “quarter” as “korter”? Which other words can drop /w/ before /ɔr/ like this?

Many people drop the "w" from words like "dwarf," changing the pronunciation from /dwɔrf/ to /dɔrf/. This has led to the re-spelling "dorf" being used in some informal contexts, e.g. "Dorf Fort." My ...
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3answers
13k views

How common is pronouncing the past tense of beat as /bet/?

Personally, I pronounce the past tense of "beat" (to win at a game) as /biːt/, to sound identical to the infinitive. However, I have heard a few people under the age of 30 and from either the west or ...
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2answers
506 views

What source explains the different pronunciations of “hol” in “alcohol” and “hollow”?

According to Merriam-Webster, the pronunciation of alcohol is "ˈal-kə-ˌhȯl" while the pronunciation of hollow is "ˈhä-(ˌ)lō." Why are they pronounced with different vowels? I think I've figured out ...
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1answer
941 views

Words Starting with Double Consonants

Double consonants often appear in the middle or at the end of a word like: kitty, Eiffel, thriller, brilliant bass, guess, basketball However, I wonder if there are any words (including ...
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1answer
61 views

Will we pronounce /t/ like a true T when /t/ is at beginning of a word but the syllable containing T is unstressed?

This website said The t is a regular, aspirated t sound when it is the first sound of a word or a stressed syllable A regular T is the one that is clearly aspirated. So, my question is that: ...
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2answers
1k 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 for ...
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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 ...
3
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3answers
703 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 ...
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3answers
708 views

Why did /x/ change to /f/ in English?

As we know, the English language doesn't have the /x/ phoneme anymore (at least in an everyday kind of context*) and the sound seems to have been dropped in many words, such as in light or eight. ...
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3answers
1k views

/ð/ → /d/ shift in English

As a result of a /d/ → /ð/ shift, fæder became father, hider became hither and togædere became together, giving us our modern English forms. However, I know that murder and burden have archaic forms- ...
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1answer
550 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 ...
4
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1answer
202 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 ...
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2answers
278 views

'confusion matrix' for English phonemes

Is there a measure of distance somewhere that tells me that certain phoneme A is more "distant" or "different" to phoneme B that it is to phoneme C in english? For example, that the phoneme /k/ is ...
5
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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 ...
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6answers
2k 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 'd'...
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3answers
147 views

/ə/ in a stressed syllable?

According to this description of the English phonotactics, the schwa /ə/ doesn't occur in stressed syllables. But Cambridge Dictionary Onlines, Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Longman ...
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3answers
489 views

'Sag' and 'slant': Is the vowel /æ/ the same in both words?

/sæg/ /slænt/ Transcriptions from Cambridge American English Dictionary Both the words' IPA transcriptions have an /æ/ symbol. Do those two /æ/s sound the same? Are they both short or ...
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2answers
65 views

Aspiration of plosives in final position and word boundaries

In a sentence like It is a cat, is it? I'm not sure what kind of aspiration the various /t/ should have. I guess the first one in "it" would be weakly aspirated, as it's followed by a stressed ...
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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 ...
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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" /...
10
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1answer
143 views

Night rain vs Night train, gemination?

The Wikipedia article on gemination claims that gemination of /t/ is the distinguishing factor between the pronunciation of the two phrases night train and night rain. In my whole life, I've almost ...
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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-...
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3answers
1k views

What is the overlap between “Y” and “I”?

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 ...
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1answer
143 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 ...
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1answer
110 views

How do you pronounce “I'm going to buy a cat tomorrow.”, in a natural sounding sentence. (in your accent)

I'm going to buy a cat tomorrow. Specifically, I'm asking those whose natural accent does not include glottal stopping for a post-vowel t. Are there two consecutive t sounds between cat and tomorrow,...
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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 ... ...
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2answers
372 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. ...
10
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2answers
941 views

How could “iota” become “hooter”?

We say we do not give a hoot or care a hoot when we do not care very much or at all. On the "hoot" that we do not give, Etymonline has this to say: [...] Slang sense of "smallest amount or ...
2
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2answers
200 views

Detecting vibration in voiced and voiceless English sounds

I heard people saying that if you put your finger on your throat you would be able to feel voiced sound vibrates and voiceless sound doesn't. I tried it but both sounds seem the same to me. So did I ...
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0answers
233 views

Is a syllable defined phonetically or etymologically?

Reading recent postings about syllables I've been struck and baffled by talk of the possibility that words may have a different number of syllables when they are written than when they are spoken. Is ...