Technical questions about the sound patterns of English.

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23
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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 ...
13
votes
5answers
13k 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 ...
31
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
23
votes
3answers
7k 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?
2
votes
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?
9
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
3k 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
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?
8
votes
1answer
12k 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.
0
votes
2answers
703 views

Reform of English writing? [closed]

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 ...
23
votes
7answers
7k views

When do I pronounce a non-existent “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-existent r between those two words? Examples from ...
21
votes
4answers
806 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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
615 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 ...
41
votes
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 ...
20
votes
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- ...
10
votes
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?
9
votes
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 ...
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!!
0
votes
3answers
915 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?
8
votes
3answers
7k views

How to pronounce “twenty” correctly?

Well, I usually say "twenny" instead of "twenty" (not "twendy" even). I recently noticed that I never heard the same from any native english speakers during any talks I ever had with them. Recently I ...
11
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
128 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; ...
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
2answers
21k views

Semi-vowels in English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is “Y” a vowel? Why are 'w' and 'y' called semi-vowels in English?
40
votes
4answers
10k views

Why is “cupboard” pronounced with a silent “p”?

According to Google at least, the word "cupboard" originated in late Middle English as denoting a board that held cups. Since then, the word has evolved to mean a kind of cabinet. My question is, ...
13
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
771 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do people often say 'hambag' for 'handbag'?

Edit The comments here are full of disbelievers! "I've never heard handbag pronounced that way. Which country are you from?" Oh ye of little faith! So - I've attached a couple of examples here ...
7
votes
1answer
1k 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] ...
2
votes
2answers
936 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. ...
9
votes
5answers
680 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 ...
7
votes
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
465 views

Is the diphthong [ai] on a non-primary stressed syllable a hypercorrection? [closed]

Is the diphthong [ai] on a non-primary stressed syllable a hypercorrection? Some American people pronounce the prefix "anti" like an-tie. For example, here's a pronunciation of "anti-Christian" ...
0
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
669 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. ...
7
votes
3answers
7k 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. ...
6
votes
2answers
5k 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: ...
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 ...
1
vote
0answers
221 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
213 views

Affricate variations in English: t͡s d͡z?

the T between vowels change to t͡s in some english speakers? Usually when I heard "What's, that's" or similar constructions, where the T come with S, I always consider like a t͡s, so I really don't ...
1
vote
1answer
897 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
142 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
180 views

Pronounciation of w at the end of a word - and what does ʊ mean?

I noticed that when I pronounce words like Show or fellow I seem to drop the w and just say Sho or Fello. My countries English is similar to British English. I wonder if that is normal or if maybe I ...
0
votes
1answer
156 views

Do you pronounce the T ending sound?

As I was taught in school and , the T ending sound of words is unvoiced and should be pronounced with air, but recently I met a friend from the US, those aired T sounds were missing from her speaking, ...