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Community! Me and my sister decided to find out whose pronunciation/intonation is better. Can you please help us out?

Recording 1 (vocaroo)

Recording 2 (vocaroo)

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  • 1
    Some parts are not understandable; why not provide a written transcription of what is being said?
    – LPH
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 23:12
  • @LPH: It's quite comprehensible. It's from Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Chapter 14: "Forgive me," I said. "I could not help it, but I had been thinking that it was of dear Lucy that you wished to ask, and so that you might not have time to wait, not on my account, but because I know your time must be precious, I have written it out on the typewriter for you." Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 23:31
  • @PeterShor thank you for your clarification! Also, I accidentally opened your profile, and I am wondering if you are a real author of Shor's Algorithm for integer factorization? Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 0:05
  • They both sound computer-generated to me, because of poor emphasis and rhythm.
    – Xanne
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 1:18
  • Both of them sound like someone affecting a posh British accent for whom that is not native.
    – Robusto
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 1:49

1 Answer 1

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As far as pronunciation goes, from the point of view of RP standards, the recording 2 is of a somewhat better quality; the reasons are that in the first recording

1/ the vowel of "said" is a little too long (no problem in the second),
2/ the "th" digraph is tather /t/ (pronounced correctly in the second recording)
3/ the -ing part of "thinking" is rather /in/ (the ing sound seems preserved in the second)
4/ an intrusive sound is found between "wished to" and "ask" (sounds like a t) (no such problem in the second),
5/ the c in Lucy is pronounced z (it's pronounced right in the second recording)
6/ there is a liaison between the words "it" and "out" (this does not occur in the second recording, as it normally should not),

and in the second,

1/ "was" can't be made out, not because it could be reduced but because neither the sound /w/ nor /z/ can be heard (in the first recording there is no reduction but the consonants can be heard),
2/ the w in "written" seems to be appear a little (whereas in the first recording there is no "hint" of it and only an r can be made out)
3/ "for" is not reduced (it is reduced in the first recording, as normally it should).

On the count of pronunciation there is less divergence from the standard in the second recording, hence my appreciation of it as being somewhat better.

As concerns intonation, which is more difficult to judge, there is not, in either recording, any remarkable divergence from what one might expect, no trace of an even light foreign accent. (My foreign ears can't however detect barely perceptible accents in the English language, so I can't tell whether the accent is perfectly English English or not, and that for either speaker.) The accent could be called British English, not much different from RP.

On the whole the second speaker performs a little better.

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  • Thank you for such a detailed answer, it must have taken a lot of time! I will continue my training of pronunciation since you brought up very good points. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 8:21
  • @EugeneKovalev I do not believe that opinion has much to do with making the difference between for instance a /t/ and a /Ѳ/, people can find agreement among themselves for such matters; however it is this supposedly opinion based side of the question that got it closed, which is a shame as you might have had more feedback from native speakers able to pinpoint even more detail. That being said I don't think you really need training, you merely need to use your English, speak with English speaking people so as to keep up your accent (both of you).
    – LPH
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 8:44
  • Lots of native speakers pronounce the suffix -ing like -in. And what on earth is wrong with a liaison between the words it and out? Native speakers do this all the time. Finally, reducing for is always optional. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 14:05
  • @PeterShor There is nothing wrong with a liaison and the French language is peppered with liaisons of which even the French themselves do not know whether they are a help or a hindrance in a great number of cases nor whether to make them or not (it's a true morass for the learners), but in RP there are no liaisons and the reference I chose, because the accent is rather close to RP, is RP. Reduction in RP is well delimited by principles and not reducing strong vowels where they are traditionally reduced means a divergence from RP. This is not AmE although New England English is comparable.
    – LPH
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 14:46
  • @LPH: Do you have a reference for there being no liaisons in RP? That sounds wrong to me. Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 16:43

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