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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204
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5answers
25k views

Are “whores” and “horse” homophones?

I’m Spanish but sometimes see TV shows in English. My question is whether the words horse and whores sound exactly the same, because in many English language TV shows it seems like they are, which ...
148
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2answers
10k 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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11answers
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What is it called when words are deliberately spelled incorrectly but pronunciation is kept unchanged?

For example, Night -> Nite Through -> Thru The -> Da Though -> Tho Nite even appears in some dictionaries as having the same meaning as night. What is it called when words are ...
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5answers
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Why are there 4 ambiguous phonetic symbols in IPA representations of English?

I'm interested in phonetics in order to speak as properly as possible. And here's the thing, there are four vowels with ambiguous symbols: The first problem is the sound [ɛ] like in dress: /drɛs/ ...
19
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2answers
2k views

Psychology of diphthongs

First of all, technically this probably should be at the English Language Learners site, because I'm an English learner, but my intuition says I'll probably get more useful answers here because of my ...
17
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10answers
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Is the mispronunciation of foreign words especially likely in English?

Are there other languages out there, more phonetic than English, in which the sound of foreign words can be specified adequately? For example, is it the case that when Arabs move to America their ...
17
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2answers
3k views

What is /iə/ in English?

I am confusing with phonetic symbols between /iə/ and /ɪə/. I know that /ɪə/ is a diphthong vowel, combining between /ɪ/ and schwa /ə/. But what is /iə/? Is it /i:/+/ə/? How different are they ...
17
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2answers
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What did we gain in return for the loss of phonemic vowel length from Old English?

In Old English, vowel length was phonemic, but stress and certain kinds of consonant voicing were not. In Modern English, that situation is reversed: vowel length is no longer phonemic, but stress ...
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4answers
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Why is /sɪ/ pronounced differently in “six” /sɪks/ and “sit” /sɪt/?

six /sɪks/ and sit /sɪt/ Why do they have the same phonetic symbol /sɪ/, if /sɪ/ is pronounced differently in those two words? The main focus in my question isn't the difference in pronunciation ...
14
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5answers
724 views

Regarding the “i” in “think” vs “bit”

This is a phonetics question. I am teaching English as a Second Language. In phonetics, we all know the "i" in "think" is a "short i" sound. Additionally, the "i" in "bit" is a "short i" sound. ...
13
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2answers
126k views

What is the difference between “phonetic” and “phonemic”?

I've read several descriptions but I still don't understand. From what I can gather, the main (or only) difference is phonemics is not concerned with "nondistinctive elements" but I don't know what ...
13
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3answers
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Why are dictionary transcriptions contradictory for the phonetic representation of oranges?

I am a native U.K. speaker with a strong Midlands dialect, and I am very aware of other dialects and regional accents from around the world of English speakers, and I really enjoy this. I am a data ...
13
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4answers
6k views

How can I distinguish “can” & “can't” from pronunciation?

It's very difficult for me to separate them. I was just listening to some video and it said "Fat cells can’t reproduce themselves." What I thought I've heard is "... CAN reproduce ..." Frankly, that'...
13
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1answer
794 views

Difference between /əʳ/ and /ɚ/

Consider the word 'future.' Cambridge Dictionary shows the transcriptions /ˈfjuːtʃəʳ/ and /ˈfjuːtʃɚ/. Are they different?
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3answers
831 views

Is “the” ever pronounced “knee”?

Does the pronunciation of "the" sometimes sound like "knee"? I have heard someone read it in a sentence sounded like 'knee'. The specific phrase was: pulling the extra layer of shirt off of her ...
12
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2answers
727 views

Describing the phonetic interaction between the F and the T in often

In the word often, the labiodental non-sibilant fricative f precedes the alveolar stop t, which is then followed by the vowel e. The Oxford Dictionaries Online offers two accepted pronunciations: /...
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4answers
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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-...
10
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5answers
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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?
10
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1answer
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Why do American speakers pronounce “the” as “/ðə/” before vowels?

I learned that we have to pronounce /ðə/ before consonants & /ði/ before vowels. For example, the /ðə/ car, but the /ði/ earth. But it seems that a lot of American people pronounce the /ðə/ ...
10
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1answer
219 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 ...
9
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1answer
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Phonetic term for switching first two letters in a word

I read a grammar book a few years ago and remember coming accross a term for switching the first two letters in a word. I cannot for the life of me remember what the term is. An example would be the ...
9
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4answers
835 views

Is the /eə/ sound related to the /ə/ sound in British English?

Lately I'm into improving my English (UK) pronunciation. I'm using the IPA chart for such purpose. I was wondering if there's any relationship between the ə sound and the several diphthongs that ...
8
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2answers
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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
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Do Americans who have the cot–caught merger pronounce 'all', 'tall', 'Paul', etc. with the same vowel quality as 'lot'?

Do American English speakers who pronounce cot and caught as [kʰɑt] pronounce all, tall, Paul, etc. with the same vowel quality? If my subjective experience is anything to go by, I feel like I've ...
8
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1answer
1k views

What does the phonetic symbol after the comma mean here?

I was checking the Pronunciation of enshrine from ODO which lists: Pronunciation: /ɪnˈʃrʌɪn, ɛn-/ Does it mean that there are two different accepted pronunciations?
8
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2answers
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When does realisation of velar nasal /ŋ/ as alveolar nasal [n] happen along with tensing of the preceding vowel (/ɪ/ to [i])?

I have observed some English speakers in North America who seem to produce this assimilation in words like "running" /ˈrʌnɪŋ/ (as /ˈrʌnin/) or "winning" /ˈwɪnɪŋ/ (as /ˈwɪnin/). I'm specifically ...
8
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1answer
179 views

In English, can a whole syllable be aspirated?

Living in Merseyside, I've noticed a phonetic oddity that I can't find described anywhere [I did a Web search and found a transcript of Liverpool speech on a Liverpool University site, but no mention ...
8
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2answers
685 views

How widespread is labialization of [ʃ] and [ʒ] in 'dish' and 'beige'?

I'm reading The Sounds of Japanese (Vance 2008), which is an introductory textbook in Japanese articulatory phonetics. The first chapter lays out some basic concepts in phonetics, and although the ...
7
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3answers
979 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 long?...
7
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2answers
690 views

What are the names of the two phonetic changes in this sentence?

I'm going to be teaching English to French high school students for another year in September, and they all have a hard time with my variety of English (they're used to hearing British English). ...
7
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Is there a definitive spelling for the shortened version of “as per usual”?

A shortened version of the phrase “as per usual” is now used as slang when referring to something that is typical or expected, often in an exaggerated or hyperbolic manner. For example: Bill: Mike ...
7
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1answer
2k views

Is the [ʊ] sound pronounced with lip rounding?

This [ʊ] sound is the vowel sound for words like hook, pull, and good. When I began to learn English a bit more seriously two decades ago, I used a book that taught me to pronounce it shorter and ...
7
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2answers
2k views

What happened to voiced velar fricative [ɣ] and velar approximant [ɰ] in English language?

The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in various spoken languages. Wikipedia says that it is not found in English today, but did exist in Old English.1 Why did this sound ...
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3answers
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Is /kləʊðz/ really the correct phonetic transcription of the word “clothes”?

I hope this question fits the group. As a teacher of EFL I have come across this question several times: Question: Does "/kləʊðz/" provide the right phonemic representation of the final sound in the ...
6
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4answers
954 views

Whence came the different varieties of the “long i” diphthong?

What is the origin of “long long i” before voiced consonants (the [ai] of wide, while, & tribe) versus “short long i” before unvoiced consonants (the [ʌi] of white, wife, & wipe)? When did ...
6
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4answers
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Are there many -tion words that sound like 'vision'?

Usually -tion words, such as motion, education, and lotion, end with a -shn sound. But equation ends with a sound rhyming with vision. Are there many more? What might some of them be? And if the ...
6
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3answers
4k views

L in the middle of a word: dark l or light l?

I find it easy to pronounce words like full (/fʊl/, dark l) and light (/laɪt/, light l), but when the letter l appears in the middle of a word, things become tricky. I can hear different ...
6
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2answers
728 views

difference between the OALD pronunciation of /i/ in happy /ˈhæpi/ and /ɪ/ in sit /sɪt/?

I wanted to learn more about phonetics and I stumbled across this website: http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/about/english/pronunciation_english However, I couldn't get what the ...
6
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1answer
564 views

/ɪ/ sound when not stressed

I've seen that some words in English are pronounced with the /ɪ/ sound when the vowel is not stressed. Some examples include: pocket /ˈpɒkɪt/, comet /ˈkɒmɪt/. But hundred /ˈhʌndrəd/. Is there any ...
6
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2answers
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Onomatopoeia Across Languages

Every language has its stock of onomatopoeic expressions, but they vary across nationalities and cultures. For example, the American “bow wow” (a rapper’s name) has its Japanese equivalent in “wan-...
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3answers
249 views

'Parasitic' Phonemes

In searching for the reason for the message -> messenger shift, I came across the theory of the 'parasitic n.' Essentially, the idea is that during the post-Norman Conquests period in England, ...
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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: ...
6
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1answer
349 views

Can the modal verb “can” be pronounced as /ŋ(k)/?

Can the modal verb "can" be pronounced as /ŋ(k)/ ? It may be the context of a following /k/, as in "we can come and see", but I have also notice it being reversed /ŋ(k)/. Therefore, I'd like to ...
5
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3answers
28k views

Pronunciation of “i” in the words like “direct”, “organization”, etc

I'm a nonnative speaker of English and I've always been unsure about the pronunciation of "i" inside words like direct, organization, etc. I was thinking that it's a matter of choice between American ...
5
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3answers
571 views

Are “phonics” and “Phoenician” related?

I was watching a history lecture recently, and the professor stated that after the Greek "dark ages," during which their previously used written language was lost and forgotten, a new written language ...
5
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5answers
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Does English really have triphthongs?

Does English really have triphthongs? EDIT/TDLR: It appears that quite a few people have misunderstood this question. In a nutshell, it is asking why many sources, even scholarly ones, claim that the ...
5
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2answers
6k views

Pronunciation of double G: soft “gg” versus hard “gg”

When I was a student, I was taught double G is normally hard, as in "agglomerate", "aggregate", "foggy", "aggressive", "dagger", "trigger", "niggard", "doggerel", etc, the exceptions being "exaggerate"...
5
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2answers
208 views

Is it optional to voice the final letter and linking sound?

I am learning English and I like to observe how people say it. Most of time, I hear "but I" as "buttai", "out of" as "outtof." In this case, the T is pronounced. However, I also hear when people ...
5
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3answers
1k views

/ɪə/, /eə/, /ʊə/ as phonemes?

From what I understand on phonetics/phonology, /ɪə/, /eə/, /ʊə/ can simply be considered as allophones of /ɪr/, /er/, /ʊr/, but most traditional dictionaries treat them as distinct phonemes. Is that ...
5
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1answer
132 views

What was the pronunciation of the a in “trap” in early to mid Modern English in the UK?

I have often read that in Old and Middle English the "a" sound in words like "trap" was pronouned /a/. When it comes to modern English, Wikipedia suggests that this was raised to /æ/ in early Modern ...