Questions tagged [phonology]

Technical questions about the sound patterns of English.

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0answers
74 views

Why are “said” and “paid”/“laid” pronounced differently?

The words say, pay, lay are phonemically /seɪ/, /peɪ/ and /leɪ/ respectively (with the diphthong /eɪ/). Their past and past participles are respectively: /sɛd/ (or /sed/), /peɪd/ and /leɪd/. The past/...
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0answers
51 views

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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2answers
109 views

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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1answer
95 views

Rule of English phonology that prevents /j/ and /w/ from occurring in the ends of syllables

I'm quite sure I've seen a rule in English phonology that says that /j/ (the "y" sound) and /w/ (the "w" sound) should not occur in the ends of English syllables, but I haven't had ...
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2answers
59 views

Does the suffix -ify have any inherent characteristics of making letters pronounced which would otherwise be silent?

It is quite clear that the word "signify" is derived from sign and the suffix -ify: sign + -ify = signify The letter "g" in the word sign is silent but when the suffix is added, ...
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4answers
6k views

Why is “archaic” pronounced uniquely? Is the sequence -ɪɪ- only found in this word?

Before looking this word up, I have always rhymed it with cake i.e. /ɑːˈkeɪk/. But when I looked it up, it was actually /ɑː(r)ˈkeɪɪk/ with the sequence of a similar vowel repeated consecutively: -ɪɪ- ...
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1answer
76 views

Why are there so many restrictions on /ŋ/ in English?

In (GA, SSBE) English, the phoneme /ŋ/ (in ring) seems to have so many restrictions: it rarely occurs after /u:/, if at all: the only word that I have been able to find in which /ŋ/ occurs after /u:/ ...
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1answer
73 views

Does English allow /eɪʃ/ in the end of a syllable (in the same syllable)?

The sound /ʃ/ is almost always spelled with more than one letter i.e. with a digraph unlike, say, /p/ which is spelled with a single letter (pan, pen, pie). I have noticed a particular pattern: vowels ...
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2answers
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 (...
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1answer
100 views

Could you help me solve this phonetic riddle?

From the position for normal breathing, you move your soft palate upwards and shut off the nasal cavity. Then you round your lips, leaving a rather close air passage there, and at the same time, you ...
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56 views

Chronology of the cot-caught merger

The cot-caught merger often coexists with the father-bother merger. Although it can be found in regions like Eastern New England, which lacks the second merger, the other dialects exhibiting the ...
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1answer
157 views

Does English allow alveolar flap [ɾ] at the ends of syllables? If yes, how to syllabify?

Prompted by this question: How to syllabify “very” or “merry” etc in British English?, I found the linked question interesting and it was a very good question but it did not get much attention, ...
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2answers
113 views

What will happen if I attach the suffixes “-ize” and “-ify” to a word that end in /ŋ/? Will they make it [ŋg]?

This question is related to my previous question: Why does “singer” have /ŋ/ and “longer” have /ŋg/? but not a duplicate. From Herrison's answer, I learned that the -er in both "singer" and &...
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1answer
55 views

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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2answers
100 views

Why is the N silent in “solemn” but pronounced in “solemnity”

Solemn → /ˈsɒləm/: It has only /-m/ Solemnity → /səˈlɛmnɪti/: it has both /m/ and /n/ (/-mn-/) Looking up their etymology didn't help much. But here is what etymology dictionary says: solemn: ... ...
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2answers
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Pronunciation of “master” and “plaster” in Northern England

A pattern I've noticed in Northern England is that people of my age (born in the '90s) pronounce words like “master” and “plaster” with a short A (/a/), whereas anyone of my parents' generation (born ...
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2answers
202 views

Was there a /t͡ʃ/ to /k/ sound change from Old English?

I stumbled upon a strange thing while looking up the etymology of words ending in "le". I looked up "kettle" and saw that it was pronounced with /t͡ʃ/ in Old English and also in ...
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1answer
400 views

How to syllabify “obsessive”: OB-SE-SIV or OB-SES-IV?

I was taught by my high school teacher how to count syllables and according to that method, you count them by clapping each syllable. The word "obsessive" should be: /əb.se.sɪv/ -- OB-SE-SIV....
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1answer
82 views

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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1answer
90 views

Silent /t/ usage on short words? [duplicate]

The censorship on Stackoverflow will kill the platform and it's elitist snakes will be haunted. Consider following words, Its At That What I often hear them as, I/?/s Aa Tha/?/ Wha/?/ I'm ...
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1answer
56 views

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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3answers
5k 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 ...
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0answers
42 views

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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2answers
345 views

Where did “nightingale” get its second N from?

I noticed while searching the etymology of the word nightingale that it did not have the second N. The sources I checked only say intrusive N but don't explain it. Wikitionary: From Middle English ...
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1answer
119 views

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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1answer
58 views

palatization of y- from *ga-

Premises The common Proto-Germanic prefix *ga‑ affixed to past participles was reduced in Modern English, obscuring its historical participial morphology now beyond modern recognition, as seen for ...
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4answers
5k views

Why did the F of “sneeze” and “snore” change to an S in English history?

The etymologies of "sneeze" and "snore" suggest that they were once pronounced with /f/. Here is what Wiktionary (from which all the following information also comes) says: From ...
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67 views

Was there any change from /u:/ to /ə/ (US: /ɚ/) in the history of English?

The /tʃ/ in the word "nature" is the result of palatalization (see this question). If I understand it correctly, the /t/ (nat) and and /j/ (ure) fused and produced /tʃ/. The letter U had the ...
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1answer
129 views

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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1answer
464 views

Why is “tion” pronounced as “shun” but not “chun”?

I know English spelling never follows English pronunciation and I also know that English spelling is very irregular but there are reasons for such irregularities. This question is only asking about ...
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0answers
48 views

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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7answers
408 views

Where does “Whatcha” & “Didja” come from?

Does anyone know where "Whatcha" and/or "Didja" originate from? Watcha: What did you? Didja: Did you? Edit: I cannot find these words in my English Grammar books and they are ...
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2answers
1k views

Why is the L silent in “walk” but not in “bulk”?

TL;DR Why is the letter L silent in walk, talk, calm, folk, half, chalk etc but not silent in bulk, hulk, milk, silk, bold, bald? Explanation of the question and Research: The letter L seems to be ...
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1answer
927 views

Why isn't “giraves” the plural of “giraffe” like “wolves” is for “wolf”? [duplicate]

The plural of giraffe, according to Merriam Webster and some other dictionaries I checked, is "giraffes". Normally when the final sound of an English word is F, its plural ends in V sound. ...
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1answer
333 views

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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1answer
37 views

Qur'anic Studies: Meaning of the word “tooth” [closed]

In the meantime, Luxenberg has made two proposals that relate to the question of how the text was first written. First, he argues that the “Ur-Qur’an” sometimes used a single “tooth” as mater ...
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1answer
59 views

Are all allophones in complementary distribution?

I am confused about the relationship between allophones and complementary distribution. I learned that similar phones in complementary distribution are usually allophones of the same phoneme. If that'...
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2answers
79 views

-IZE: unstressed (though strong)

According to the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary -IZE /aɪz/: This suffix is unstressed (though strong) in Received Pronunciation and General American, but sometimes stressed in other varieties"....
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1answer
227 views

Stressed syllables in “ostentatious” and “adventurous” [duplicate]

I have been confused by the accented syllables in the words "ostentatious" and "adventurous". Although both of them have the same number of syllables, they are accented on ...
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39 views

pronunciation help. What does the simple /i/ means

The cambridge dictionary phonetics use phonetic symbol /i/ in addition to /I/ and /i:/ I assume they use the DJ phonetic transcription. The other source I read says that /i/ is the old spelling for /I/...
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1answer
80 views

Has anyone noted this phonetic variation in /ə/?

Schwa /ə/ is a phonetically variable sound. It may be [ɪ̈]-ish (or reportedly even [ɨ]-ish), depending on position and dialect, while oftentimes it is [ə] (or [ɘ] in New Zealand English), and for at ...
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0answers
71 views

The /z/ sound at the end of a word

ESL students, whose L1 is Spanish, have a hard time paying attention to the /z/ sound, especially in end position: please, eyes, surprise. Learners assume that what sounds at the end is the /s/ sound. ...
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0answers
71 views

What’s going on with "hot -> heat”? [duplicate]

I am looking for a particular linguistic term for this process of turning words like hot into words like heat. English has a bunch of pairs like these: Hot -> heat Whole -> heal (Folk)lore ->...
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2answers
249 views

Are /ɑːɹ/ and /æɹ/ allophones?

Are /ɑːɹ/ (as in "start") and /æɹ/ (as in "parody", "marry", or "clarity") allophones? It seems that the latter can only occur when the /æɹ/ precedes a vowel in ...
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3answers
242 views

Why is chocolate pronounced as CHOK-LATE and not CHO-KO-LATE? [closed]

So there are many words in which one syllable gets reduced. For example, chocolate could be pronounced as CHO-KO-LATE but instead it's pronounced as CHOK-LATE, it's now 2 syllable word. Another ...
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47 views

Why is the stressed form of “of” different in American English than in other English?

In UK English, of has the stressed pronunciation /ɒv/. In Australian English, it has the corresponding pronunciation /ɔv/. However, in US English, it is /ʌv/ instead of the corresponding /ɑv/. I get ...
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191 views

Why are 'electric', 'electricity' and 'electrician' pronounced differently?

Why are the words electric, electricity and electrician pronounced differently? Electric -> /iˈlek.trɪk/ Electricity -> /ˌel.ɪkˈtrɪs.ə.ti/ Electrician -> /ˌɪl.ekˈtrɪʃ.ən/ My main question ...
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1answer
95 views

Reason for pronunciation differences between different meanings of offense

At least in American English, the word offense has two different pronunciations used for two different meanings: I took offense at his joke The team's offense is quite good How did this ...
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1answer
2k views

Rules for pronouncing the “gh” sound [duplicate]

In English, we have many words ending in or containing “gh”, but in some cases, the two letters are silent, while in others, it is pronounced as “f” . We have the words tough, rough, and draught, ...
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1answer
88 views

<ie ⟷ y> before the ·ing suffix

Page 1579 of the CambridgeGEL reads For die the ie is the default spelling, so that the replacement works in the opposite direction: ie is replaced by y before the ·ing suffix. Why was a replacement ...

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