Questions tagged [phonetics]

Phonetics (pronounced /fəˈnɛtɪks/, from the Greek: φωνή, phōnē, 'sound, voice') is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign.

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Phonetic rules (hitchhiker)

Watching an American TV series, all cast are American and play American roles, the protagonist talks about a hitchhiker and pronounces the two i's with the same phonetics as in SITTING ɪ + ɪ while ...
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How many syllables do these rules say that ‘every’ has?

Edit note: As you’ll see from the linked-to post, I’m not expecting my code here to be anything like 100% accurate. I’m after a fast and dirty heuristic that will be correct most of the time. I’m ...
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When is it OK to pronounced a voiced th like a /d/ instead of a /ð/?

As I learned in Do native speakers really always pronounce the voiced th as a /ð/? native speakers sometimes pronounce the voiced th as a /d/ instead of a /ð/ like in the words "the", &...
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Do native speakers really always pronounce the voiced th as a /ð/? [closed]

In Can we pronounce the 'th' sound as a d? one answer explained that native speakers often don't pronounce the voiced th excactly like how it ideally should sound. What I have noticed over ...
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Phonetic symbols for Port are different: Webster Internet vs Webster paper

Phonetic symbols are different for the same word Port. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary on the Internet: port noun (1) \ ˈpȯrt \ Definition of port (Entry 1 of 10) 1: a place where ships may ride ...
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Pronunciation: /ɪ/ becomes /ə/ in "William" or "Wilkinson"?

I sometimes hear words like "Willam" or "Wilkinson" pronounced like /'wəl-jəm/ or /'wəɫ̩-kən-sən/, rather than /'wɪɫ̩-jəm/ or /'wɪɫ̩-kən-sən/. In other words, the /wɪɫ̩/ cluster is ...
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Why are "er”, "ar” and "or" often listed as R-colored vowels but "air”, "ear" and "oor/ure" are not? Are they vowels or vowel+consonant?

NOTE: I speak a rhotic variety of English. I am struggling with how to explain r-coloured vowels/vocalic R to teachers during a presentation on the phonemes of English. Many grapheme-phoneme lists ...
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What is/are the process(es) leading to the mispronunciation of the word "extra"?

I find that it is not uncommon for the word extra to be pronounced without the letter 'x' being enunciated such that it sounds like /ˈɛkʃᵗrə/ instead of /ˈɛkstrə/. That is the /s/ sound is substituted ...
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English words ending with -enk/-eng

Why aren’t words ending with -enk/-eng more common in Modern English?
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What are the two /r/ sounds explained in this video?

This guy says here there are two ways of "making the /r/ sound". His explanation lacks academic rigor and necessary phonetic details. He claims the first way is: "It's like a /l/, with ...
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Why is scissors /ˈsɪz.əz/ and not /ˈsɪz.ɜ:ʳz/?

I am an English teacher, but have not studied phonetics much. The sound əz is the same sound we find in "houses" "causes" "ages" "beaches". The dictionaries say ...
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Does [ʌ] represent near-open central vowel in IPA system?

[ɐ] near-open central vowel [ʌ] open-mid back unrounded vowel Can I use [ʌ] to represent near-open central vowel sound in IPA system?
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"man" vs. "men" pronunciation in American English

Here are 10 audio clips taken (more or less randomly) from a book narrated by a professional American narrator. In 5 of them, he is saying man, and in the other 5, men. Is it possible for a native ...
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Pronunciation of "I" vowel name in fast speech

I'm not a native english speaker. I was wondering what is the right way to pronunce the "I" (/aɪ/) vowel name in fast speech. Perhaps i'm confused, but sometimes i hear /a/. Like in the ...
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Syllabification of "riding"

According to the Middle Consonant Rule, shouldn't we syllabicate the word riding as Ri-ding (raɪ-dɪŋ)? Why are we syllabicating it as Rid-ing (raɪd.ɪŋ)? What's the rule for this?
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Why "thine heart" but "thy whole heart"?

I have somehow picked up the use of the two different forms "thy/thine" from the KJV Bible, and I thought I knew the rule. Use thy before consonants and thine before vowels or before words ...
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Is "prolongation of nasalization" ocurring in English?

I am wondering if the same phenomenon occurs in English, as described here in Spanish: https://spanish.stackexchange.com/q/37916/11155. Q: Why did the Latin coemeterium change into cementerio* in ...
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Is there a word/term for how pleasant a word is to pronounce?

I am familiar with euphony and phonaesthetics, but these both seem to focus more on how pleasant a sound is to hear/perceive. I think there is a subtle difference between this and how pleasant it ...
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How Was "Feast" Pronounced in Early Modern English?

In Romeo and Juliet, Capulet delivers a speech to Paris about his consent for him to court Juliet. With the exception of the first three lines, his speech would follow a coupled rhyme scheme... 16 ...
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Are /t, p, k/ aspirated when they are at the start of a syllable after another syllable that ends in /s/?

In English (native speakers' speech), voiceless plosives such as /t/, /p/ and /k/ are produced with a strong burst of air when they are in the start of a syllable before a vowel. That is called "...
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1 vote
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Why the "oo" in "noon" is pronounced sounding like "you" while the word "moon" isn't? [closed]

I was taught to pronounce the oo in either afternoon or noon as /u:/ ~~the oo in nook~~ until I found some native speakers pronounce the noon sounding like new-n (videos). But the AmE IPA in the ...
8 votes
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"Superhands" vs "Super Hans" pronunciation

I've been watching Peep Show and I just discovered on the internet that the guy I thought was named "Superhands" is actually called "Super Hans". Is it normal to confuse these two ...
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Does [z] + [j] equal [ ʒ ]?

Could it be that sometimes the voiced alveolar sibilant [z] at the end of a syllable merges with a following palatal approximant [j] to produce a voiced postalveolar sibilant [ʒ]? Bob Dylan clearly ...
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phonetics of certain words with "i"

I have from time to time noticed the different pronunciations of some words like civilization and organization where the "i" phonetically sounds like "aay". It is more clear in ...
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Why is the zh (ʒ) sound so infrequent in English?

I've always heard that the "zh" (ʒ) sound (e.g. in "vision", "usually") was an uncommon sound in the English language. A quick Google search returns multiple results (...
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Why doesn't the T of "lunatic" flap in American English?

I have never heard the T of "lunatic" become flap in American English. You can also listen to the data from Youglish. Compare "janitor" /ˈdʒænəɾɚ/ (Cambridge Dictionary gives /...
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English dialect/accent that switches out the letter "p" with a voiceless bilabial trill (ʙ̥)

Just to clarify the title: not sure if this dialect always switches the "p" out with the "ʙ̥". For example, if the p is in the beginning of word, maybe this doesn't happen. Also, I'...
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The "Elephant and Apple" - Phonetical Spelling of NY(C) with normal letters [closed]

Some toponyms change over time: Be it by pronunciation (Los Angeles, New Orleans) or by changing the wording/spelling to either make more sense to the speaker (the London district "Elephant and ...
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What does a bracketed sound mean in the IPA transcription of a word?

I noticed that some words have a bracketed sound in their transcriptions in some dictionaries, for example, see the following from Lexico: locate - /lə(ʊ)ˈkeɪt/ open - /ˈəʊp(ə)n/ (I assume here the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why do Southerners pronounce "naked" differently?

I was watching a TV show and this guy from Tennessee pronounces naked as /'nekɪd/, without the diphthong /eɪ/ in the first syllable, and instead pronounced as a single /e/ vowel. Dictionary ...
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This RP accent makes me confused and mad

I'm trying to choose between RP and my current conventional accents/pronunciations. For already two weeks I've been looking for some proves that RP is worth something and it's well-accepted everywhere....
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How is /ɑ:/ realized in British English: [ɑː] or more relaxed than [ɑː]?

I know that /ɑː/ is open back unrounded vowel and is found a lot in British English. It is the vowel in bath, father, bar, car etc in British English. In American English, this vowel is found in bar, ...
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2 votes
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What is the name of the category that describes all the ways a number can be read?

Written numbers can be read aloud in multiple different ways: Nominal numbers can be read by pronouncing each digit individually: "My phone number is 123456" read as "one, two, three......
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Is there any rule for determining which is the more preferable pronunciation for a word with different pronunciation

"Association" is pronounced as either /əˌsəʊsiˈeɪʃ(ə)n/ Or /əˌsoʊʃiˈeɪʃən/ What I am focusing on in this example is the middle sound /ʃ/ -sh- which is made with ⟨ci⟩. Something came to my ...
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Why is "that" unaccented in some sentences like "We knew that the next day would be difficult." and not in others?

I don't understand why in some words, the word "that" is accented, such as in "it isn’t that urgent." and not in "We knew that the next day would be difficult". Could ...
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How shall the word "biology" be interpreted, if no English word can start with two stressed syllables?

I am little confused over this matter; the teacher has stated that no English word can start with two stressed syllables and that you understand a syllable is stressed when it's not reduced to a schwa ...
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The strange pronunciations of "assume"

Just a curious question: Why is "assume" pronounced so funny by many native speakers? I can't think of any other word where "ss" is pronounced like that. A bit hard to explain via ...
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1 vote
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Birth of a universe vs birth of an universe [duplicate]

Which is the correct usage from the following two sentences? Birth of a universe Birth of an universe
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Is the /p/ aspirated in /pr/ combination in the beginning of a stressed syllable?

In English the /p/ is generally aspirated (produced with a strong burst of air) when it comes in the start of a stressed syllable. For example, the /p/ in "pin" is aspirated (produced with a ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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How were 'eyes' and '-ies' pronounced in Shakespeare's times? [duplicate]

Reading through 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' I've noticed that Shakespeare repeatedly rhymed 'eyes' with some of the words ending with '-ies' (e.g. 'companies', 'qualities'). Obviously that means that ...
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1 answer
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Are English diphthongs nasalized before nasals?

I learned that vowels are often nasalized before nasals (Nasalization). It means that the velum is lowered when the vowel is produced in the mouth and most of the air comes out through nose. For ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What's the difference between /t̬/ and /ɾ/ in American English?

I have learned that the t between vowels in American English is usually an alveolar flap, represented by /ɾ/, which is the voiced counterpart of the usual /t/. Cambridge Online Dictionary gives /ˈbet̬....
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Merger of Early Modern English 'ir' with 'ur' and 'er'+'ear'

Before /r/, /ɪ/ merged with either /ʊ/ or /ɛ/, depending on context. After labials (plus clusters of labials and /l/) and alveolar stops (like in bird and dirt), the result was /ʊ/ (shown, among other ...
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Slight GOAT-fronting in GenAm

According to the Wikipedia page, GOAT in GenAm is realized as a slightly fronted [ö̞ʊ]. I have also heard some GenAm(-like) speakers produce that variant, though others produced a completely back ...
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Why is the sound 'air' in words like 'chair', 'pear' and 'where' considered a phoneme? Should it not be considered a blend of the sound? [closed]

We know that phonemes are the smallest unit of sound in speech, and that in the IPA, each character represents only one sound. Wouldn't 'air' be considered two sounds - the combination of the sound /...
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1 answer
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What is the difference between [ɐ] and [ʌ]?

In a similar question which asks the difference between /ə/ and /ʌ/, I learned that /ʌ/ occurs in stressed syllables. Now there is another similar vowel sound: /ɐ/ which also occurs in stressed ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What sound is /a/?

Is it similar to /ʌ/ or is it more like /ɔ/ or is it something different? I've seen it combined with /ʌ/ several times in different phonetic scripts. Are the 2 similar or where they just lumped ...
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What is the difference between /ʌɪ/ and /aɪ/ in English?

Is there any difference between the two diphthongs in English IPA transcriptions? If I search a word in the Cambridge dictionary, it gives /aɪ/ for both UK English and US English. For example, the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why can't we geminate affricates in sentences when talking?

I read a book which said that if we link affricate sounds when talking, people would misunderstand the meaning of the sentence. But why? For example: "orange juice," the j sound should be ...
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Voicing of sibilants before liquids, after voiced vowels?

I just ran across an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion from a friend about the voic­ing of sibi­lants in English. She was ask­ing why English speak­ers pro­nounce the word mus­lim as muZlim (with a voiced sibi­...

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