Technical questions about the sound patterns of English.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

-1
votes
0answers
18 views

“A” or “an” before a word starting with a fraction [duplicate]

Which of the following is correct? a ½-approximation algorithm an ½-approximation algorithm What is the rule? I have tried to find the rule for numbers, but I don’t know how to apply this to ...
28
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
64 views

Words with multiple allowable pronunciations

Long time listener, first time caller. I was chatting with some friends, and GIF and nuclear came up. GIF is pretty unique, we considered, as we allow both /dʒɪf/ and /gɪf/ for its pronunciation. ...
4
votes
1answer
3k 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.
22
votes
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.
4
votes
2answers
259 views

Is there such a thing as an unvoiced vowel?

I can't think of any and google has not been helpful.
0
votes
1answer
89 views

'r' sound before 'th' sound

I'm learning British English. The r is usually dropped, so I never noticed a little thing, most of the time when I use an r before the th sound, my tongue does a kind of a tap or something between r ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Writing influences speech and viceversa? [migrated]

For example, language changes over time, but in languages that exist without writing, it changes naturally just influenced by itself. So when writing was introduced, did that start to influence speech ...
1
vote
0answers
91 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

Is there a systematic difference between /a:/ in BrE and /æ:/ in AmE?

so another question I have is that whether it is systematic (a regular pattern) between /a:/ in BrE and /æ:/ in AmE or not. There are words that a pronounced differently like dance or rather. I have ...
0
votes
1answer
144 views

TH sound, is it continuant or stop?

How do you all pronounce the TH sound when speaking fast? For example, I've learned to pronounce the TH sound like a continuant sound, for example the hard one: ð. I start doing a Z, so this Z go ...
8
votes
1answer
358 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. ...
1
vote
1answer
81 views

Two types of sound for letter L?

Consider two words, for example, lot and all. The phonetic symbol of l in the two words are the same, which makes me wonder why the sound of l in the first is considered to be the same as in the ...
2
votes
2answers
5k 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?
8
votes
3answers
475 views

Which does English “l” and “r” sound come under, an allophone or different phonemes?

I was very much embarrassed when I was pointed out by ELU Senpai that I made a great mistake by misspelling ‘Mod election’ as ‘Mod erection’ during ELU chat. We Japanese often make a silly mistake of ...
0
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
560 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. ...
19
votes
6answers
3k views

When do I pronounce a non-existing “r” between adjacent vowel sounds?

If I say two words consecutively, with the first ending in a vowel sound and the second starting with one, when is it correct to include a non-existing r between those two words? Examples from ...
3
votes
2answers
165 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
368 views

Do onomatopoeic words lose their onomatopoeic character?

Wikipedia mentions that: Some languages flexibly integrate onomatopoeic words into their structure. This may evolve into a new word, up to the point that it is no longer recognized as ...
10
votes
4answers
572 views

Why “English” but not “Anglish”?

Etymology of English from Etymonline: Old English Englisc (contrasted to Denisc, Frencisce, etc.), from Engle (plural) "the Angles," the name of one of the Germanic groups that overran the island ...
1
vote
2answers
203 views

Difference between ɒ and ɔ: in terms of sound?

Are they same, like, allophones? To me, they sound like same?
3
votes
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
305 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
345 views

“An Ewt” to “A Newt”?

What is it called when English speakers, over a long period of time, start adding the letter "n" to the beginning of a word by accident, due to use of the article "an"? For instance, I read somewhere ...
5
votes
3answers
298 views

Why is “poignant” pronounced /ˈpɔɪɲənt/?

I felt a little bit strange when I heard poignant pronounced as /ˈpɔɪɲənt/. It is also pronounced as /ˈpɔɪgnənt/, but the former seems to be more popular. A word stagnant has similar spelling, but ...
21
votes
3answers
2k 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?
3
votes
1answer
136 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? ...
2
votes
3answers
175 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
491 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
votes
2answers
911 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
448 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. ...
0
votes
0answers
33 views

Why “qu” is pronounced “qw” (as in quit, question) [duplicate]

Or to put it the other way, why qu is not spelled qw, as qwit, qwestion, for quit, question.
2
votes
2answers
145 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
373 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
154 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
3answers
382 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?
1
vote
1answer
89 views

AmE Phonetics: < I don't n-> /aʊn/ [closed]

Cut to the chase: While listening to the record 2.0 Boys by Slaughterhouse I've noticed that Joell Ortiz and Joe Budden pronounce such sequence of sounds — namely "I don't know" around 1:55 and ...
10
votes
5answers
950 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
136 views

What's the term of “omission” in phonetics? [closed]

What's the term of "omission" in phonetics? Omission has a special term.Please help me. Apheresis , hypheresis , and apocope are all kinds of omission or elision , but I want to know the name of ...
11
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
658 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
184 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, ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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
649 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
402 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
2k 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
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...