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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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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 ...
Jose Javier Garcia's user avatar
157 votes
2 answers
13k 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 ...
Vun-Hugh Vaw's user avatar
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38 votes
11 answers
36k views

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 ...
Mehper C. Palavuzlar's user avatar
33 votes
2 answers
5k views

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 (...
M. Justin's user avatar
  • 924
31 votes
5 answers
7k views

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/ ...
Laurent Garnier's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
Valentin Drozdov's user avatar
21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is there such a thing as Intrusive-L (as opposed to Intrusive-R)?

Most of us have heard plenty of examples of the so-called Intrusive-R. It is a feature of non-rhotic dialects, including British RP and some New England dialects. It occurs between two vowels that are ...
Robusto's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
5k views

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 ...
user avatar
18 votes
10 answers
5k views

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 ...
Chaim's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
3k views

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 ...
tchrist's user avatar
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17 votes
4 answers
5k views

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 ...
MonKong's user avatar
  • 199
17 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
NonameKun's user avatar
  • 179
15 votes
5 answers
8k views

How should I distinguish between "can" & "can't" in American English pronunciation?

As a non-native speaker, I feel that it is ridiculous that can and can't could sound so similar in American accent. Just now, I was just listening to a video in which the speaker with an American ...
xzhu's user avatar
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15 votes
5 answers
1k 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. ...
J.L.'s user avatar
  • 151
15 votes
5 answers
5k 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 home-made-English-spelling-...
user58319's user avatar
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14 votes
2 answers
158k 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 ...
Barry Fruitman's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
1k views

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 ...
alexexchanges's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
Zhang's user avatar
  • 286
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Difference between /əʳ/ and /ɚ/

Consider the word 'future.' Cambridge Dictionary shows the transcriptions /ˈfjuːtʃəʳ/ and /ˈfjuːtʃɚ/. Are they different?
Schwale's user avatar
  • 455
13 votes
2 answers
1k 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: /...
ScotM's user avatar
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12 votes
5 answers
4k 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?
Elizabite's user avatar
  • 497
11 votes
5 answers
84k views

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 ...
stevvve's user avatar
  • 249
11 votes
1 answer
3k views

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/ ...
Tom's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
4k views

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 ...
verbumSapienti's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
2k views

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 ...
Nilster's user avatar
  • 203
10 votes
4 answers
419 views

Do any speakers have contrastive vowel qualities for the NURSE and lettER sets?

John Wells’ lexical sets are usually useful classifications for determining differences in the realizations of vowels across English accents. Two of the sets are the NURSE set, referring to a stressed ...
Graham H.'s user avatar
  • 852
10 votes
2 answers
3k views

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 ...
Nardog's user avatar
  • 1,535
10 votes
1 answer
283 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 ...
Nihilist_Frost's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
1k 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 ...
user8469759's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
2k views

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 ...
fev's user avatar
  • 26.3k
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

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 ... ...
Araucaria - Not here any more.'s user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
674 views

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 ...
Marcos Gonzalez's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

"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 ...
Some Student's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
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?
daisy's user avatar
  • 2,179
8 votes
2 answers
3k views

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 interested ...
Hunter Morris's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
751 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). ...
Chris Cirefice's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
Damkerng T.'s user avatar
  • 1,725
7 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
ermanen's user avatar
  • 59.1k
7 votes
1 answer
221 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 ...
David Garner's user avatar
  • 2,117
7 votes
1 answer
212 views

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 ...
Colleen's user avatar
  • 71
6 votes
3 answers
6k views

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 ...
Mintou's user avatar
  • 235
6 votes
3 answers
5k views

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 ...
Ashwin Schumann's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
1k 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? Is /æ/ ...
user152435's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
1k 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 ...
Jon Purdy's user avatar
  • 31.9k
6 votes
4 answers
3k views

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 ...
MAKZ's user avatar
  • 187
6 votes
3 answers
34k 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 ...
Mehper C. Palavuzlar's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
7k 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 ...
Stan's user avatar
  • 368
6 votes
2 answers
10k views

What is the correct pronunciation of "elytra"?

The word elytra refers to one of the anterior wings in beetles and some other insects that serve to protect the posterior pair of functional wings according to Merriam-Webster. The word is also ...
L. F.'s user avatar
  • 179
6 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
Firdaus's user avatar
  • 63

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