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20 votes
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Why doesn't English employ an H in front of Ares?

Hermes and Ares are reasonable representations in the Latin alphabet of the sounds of the Greek names. The /h/ sound is absent from classical Greek spellings of words which contained it (like Hermes) ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
13 votes
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Can American ‘bought’ sometimes sound like ‘bop’?

Short answer (tl;dr): Yes, the last consonant in the word bought may often be realised as a [p] before the word me. The full story In General American, a syllable final /t/ followed by a consonant ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
7 votes
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/z/ + /ð/ = /zdð/?

I haven't found any sources that indicate something special about this particular environment. A stop-like realization of /ð/ as something like [d̪] or [d̪ð] is a common allophone in a number of ...
herisson's user avatar
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7 votes
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Why do dictionaries transcribe the nasal in 'think' and 'language' with /ŋ/, yet 'input' and 'inbox' with /n/, not /m/?

The standard basic phonemic analysis that I am most familiar with is that the words "think, tinker, language, English" contain the phoneme /ŋ/. I have see some more theoretically complex ...
herisson's user avatar
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7 votes
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On the velar nasal /ŋ/ sound followed by /k/

As mentioned in the comments, this previous question has overlap with yours: Why do dictionaries transcribe the nasal in 'think' and 'language' with /ŋ/, yet 'input' and '...
herisson's user avatar
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6 votes

Are there many -tion words that sound like 'vision'?

This seems to have been a change in the last hundred years or so. Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary from 1828, has "shun" and not "zhun", as does Webster's 1892 High School Dictionary (available via ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
6 votes
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What happens phonetically in "words that"?

Briefly (because stuff like this happens whenever words meet up in speech, which is to say in every sentence), the phonemics of words that (occurring in a phrase, where words is stressed and that is ...
John Lawler's user avatar
6 votes
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Is there a word spelled with a silent B at the start?

There are English words that start with the letter B in spelling but that don't start with the "B sound" /b/ in speech, but not very many, and none of them is very common. An example is bdellium, from ...
herisson's user avatar
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6 votes
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Why does the diphthong /aʊ/ not occur before /k/, /m/, /p/, /b/, /g/ etc?

I actually wrote a long post about this topic on the Linguistics SE site: you can see it at Why English is missing some phoneme sequences (/aʊv/ or /aʊp/). Incidentally, trauma is only pronounced with ...
herisson's user avatar
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5 votes
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Is "question" pronounced with an "s" or with an "sh" sound?

The consonant sequence /st͡ʃ/ in this word, and others, can indeed be replaced in pronunciation by something like [ʃt͡ʃ] as the result of assimilation. (I don't know if it would be correct to analyze ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 82.6k
5 votes

Is "question" pronounced with an "s" or with an "sh" sound?

John Lawler wrote in a comment: It's quite normal for the /s/ in an /stʃ/ cluster to anticipate the upcoming palatal affricate by being palatalized itself to /ʃtʃ/. Consonant clusters reduce and ...
5 votes

Is the voicing voiceless consonants common in the US?

No, it isn't that common to voice voiceless consonants. It does happen sometimes, though (the biggest example of course is intervocalic /t/ in certain contexts). The two examples that you give are ...
herisson's user avatar
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4 votes

Are there many -tion words that sound like 'vision'?

Edit: A while after making this post, I came across the entry for the word transition in Walker's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary (1823), which gives the pronunciation as "transizhun". The OED also ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 82.6k
4 votes

About pronouncing the 's' in plural nouns

As far as I know, there are no notable groups of speakers that don't follow this rule phonologically: pens and pence, tens and tense have different pronunciations for all speakers with typical accents....
herisson's user avatar
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4 votes
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Why is the word "folks" pronounced [foʊks]?

This is the result of historical loss/vocalization of the sound /l/ in certain contexts. As Max Williams mentioned, we also see this loss in -alk words like walk, talk, chalk, balk, stalk. Some ...
herisson's user avatar
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4 votes

Silent consonants in words like lawn, dawn

Please read this. Technically speaking, there are no "silent letters" in English words. That's because our letters do not represent pronunciations the way you think they do. Specifically, there ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
4 votes
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Is the "ng" sound often pronounced simultaneously with the "n" sound?

Firstly, native English speakers do not add an extra n after the /ŋ/ in the word singer, though some do have the same issue as you with having difficulty producing /ŋ/ in the middle of words like ...
Christine Dunbar's user avatar
4 votes

Why doesn't English employ an H in front of Ares?

I’m afraid you are labouring under a misapprehension. Mars is not the Latin for Ares with an aspirated first letter. It is derived from the Oscan Mavors. He was the god of war, like Ares, but he was ...
Tuffy's user avatar
  • 11.2k
4 votes

Are there any English words starting with a silent vowel requiring "a" before it (not "an")?

In American English, the word opossum is pronounced with a silent "o" more often than not. However, Americans have started spelling it 'possum or possum. See this Google Ngram. So rather ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
3 votes
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How do Americans pronounce "it would", "it was", etc.?

In many dialects, /t/ before a consonant (including w) is pronounced [ʔt] or even [ʔ], that is, glottalized or preglottalized. (Edit to clarify: that is, /t/ before a consonant, except for initial /...
Mark Beadles's user avatar
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3 votes
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Name for letter U in words like 'suede' and 'penguin'

Words like "vowel" and "consonant" and "semivowel" properly refer to the sounds of English. Now, the way that English spelling works, there's some correlation between letters and sounds; there are ...
ruakh's user avatar
  • 15.5k
3 votes

Pronunciation of "to" as [tʃu:]

You'll hear [tʃu:]in inner-city Dublin - it would not be considered a good example of how to speak
English Teacher's user avatar
3 votes

Why are there so few English words that begin with the letter X?

The short answer to the question of why so few English words start with x is that there are relatively few words starting with x (or ξ) in the main source languages from which English has borrowed ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
3 votes

Is there a word spelled with a silent B at the start?

There are silent bs in English: Bdellium, it's a gum like tree resin, it starts with a silent B http://www.metrolyrics.com/crazy-abcs-lyrics-barenaked-ladies.html (The above song is filled with ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.6k
3 votes

The pronunciation of "th" in "with" in British RP

The phonemic, i.e. prototypical, pronunciation of the word with in British Received Pronunciation is /wɪð/, with a voiced /ð/, as in the. However, in contexts like "with people", with may be ...
Nardog's user avatar
  • 1,752
3 votes
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American 'n' sound is sometimes retroflex?

Yes, this is a recognized phenomenon. There was a related question I answered a while back about how, in American English, a flapped /d/ after /r/ can become a retroflex flap [ɽ]. Since /n/ can also ...
alphabet's user avatar
  • 19k
2 votes

Why is "liquorice" pronounced (or spelt) so strangely?

It's possible that the pronunciation of the common noun liquorice was influenced by the plant's Latinized genus name Liquiritia, anglicized as /lɪkwɪɹɪʃə/ (and these days less often used than the ...
Aralcar's user avatar
  • 1,178

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