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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209
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5answers
28k 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 ...
154
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3answers
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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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2answers
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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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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/ ...
21
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2answers
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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 ...
20
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2answers
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 ...
19
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2answers
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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 ...
18
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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 ...
18
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2answers
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 ...
17
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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 ...
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 ...
15
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3answers
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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 ...
15
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5answers
891 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. ...
14
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2answers
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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 ...
14
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5answers
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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 ...
14
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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 ...
14
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1answer
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Difference between /əʳ/ and /ɚ/

Consider the word 'future.' Cambridge Dictionary shows the transcriptions /ˈfjuːtʃəʳ/ and /ˈfjuːtʃɚ/. Are they different?
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2answers
987 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-...
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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?
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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/ ...
11
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1answer
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 ...
11
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1answer
256 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 ...
10
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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 ... ...
10
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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 ...
10
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2answers
883 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 ...
10
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4answers
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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 ...
9
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3answers
845 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 ...
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5answers
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
9
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1answer
506 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 ...
8
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2answers
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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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1answer
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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?
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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 interested ...
8
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1answer
193 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 ...
7
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3answers
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'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/ ...
7
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2answers
730 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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1answer
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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
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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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2answers
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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: ...
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3answers
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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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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 ...
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4answers
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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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3answers
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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 ...
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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
33k 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 ...
6
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3answers
6k 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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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 ...
6
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1answer
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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 ...

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