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In most varieties of English, these two words are not homophones. But there is an interesting story about why this is so. In English the alveolar fricatives /s/ and /z/ are contrastive. Notionally, the first is unvoiced and the second voiced. So we can find minimal pairs of words where the difference in voicing results in a change of meaning: /su:/ /zu:/ ...


274

Short answer The PRICE vowel that we hear in the word wise, /waɪz/, has a systematic relationship with the KIT vowel which we hear in the word wizard, /'wɪzəd/. As we add syllables to the base of a word in English, we tend to reduce the length of the vowel in the base. This is so that we can accommodate the new syllables and still preserve the perceived ...


56

The problem is that there are a number of hidden assumptions behind this question that need to be picked away before the question can even be posed. Let me take them one by one. Are there other languages out there, more phonetic than English, This apparently refers to the English writing system, which is notorious for misrepresenting English ...


35

TL;DR: You’re right that six and sit have ever so slightly different phonetics, but those all tally to the same underlying phoneme /ɪ/ in the minds of us native speakers. Your challenge is to learn to think that same way as we do. (This is because the length and onset/offset characteristics of how that phoneme gets said in various different words just are ...


31

TL;DR All tense monophthongs in English become non-phonemic, phonetic-only diphthongs with weak off-glides in most speakers and contexts. Minor phonologic effects like this are part of getting an accent right, but they do not change the abstract phoneme, which is still just /e/ or /o/, /i/ or /u/. Native speakers do not think of those phonologic effects ...


22

Phonemics, or Phonology, is the study of the distribution of sound systems in human languages. A Phoneme is a particular set of sounds produced in a particular language and distinguishable by native speakers of that language from other (sets of) sounds in that language. That's what "distinctive" means -- the English phonemes /n/ and /ŋ/ can be told apart by ...


22

Whether people can pronounce a foreign word depends more on if the sounds are familiar than on if they have a familiar way to write them. Many Japanese speakers are well aware of the difference between the letters "l" and "r"; that doesn't make it easy for them to hear the difference between English "l" and "r". Similarly, it takes a few minutes to teach an ...


21

You need to keep a couple of things in mind: The glyphs employed in the pronunciations you find in dictionaries are not "phonetic transcriptions" but phonemic representations (note that they are enclosed in //, not []). That is, they do not represent actual, infinitely variable acoustic phenomena but elements in the finite set of structurally categorized ...


21

Take, for example, the word beer. Here we would use the transcription /bɪə/ in Southern Standard British English (SSBE). Notice that this word has two phonemes, the consonant /b/ and the vowel /ɪə/. That vowel—often referred to as the NEAR vowel—is a single vowel. We use two symbols to represent it because this vowel changes quality as we say it....


20

Are there other languages out there, more phonetic than English, in which the sound of foreign words can be specified adequately? (I think you may have meant to say 'with a more robust writing system' rather than 'phonetic'.) The answer to that is 'No'. There is no natural language which is universally good at writing/pronouncing foreign words. The ...


20

A non-negotiable phonological rule of all standard Englishes inserts a vowel (either /ə/ or /ɪ/, depending on the variety of English) between base-final sibilant consonants and the plural morpheme /z/. The /z/ morpheme remains voiced in this position after a vowel. The sibilant consonants in English are /s, z, ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ/ Therefore for the following ...


20

One is the Standard British English pronunciation, and the other is the General American English pronunciation. In the British pronunciation, you don't pronounce the /r/ after /ə/ unless the next word starts with a vowel. (The superscript /r/ is saying add an /r/ after it if the next word starts with a vowel. Compare the words store /stɔːʳ/ and star /stɑːʳ/...


19

Consonants, as Ladefoged has said, are just different ways of starting and ending vowels. The difference you are hearing are the two different ways of ending the vowel. Bringing the tongue dorsum up to make a complete closure with the velum is a relatively slow gesture that changes the resonant properties of your mouth. Raising the tongue dorsum up towards ...


18

TL;DR: Yes. Surprisingly, perhaps, the word the is sometimes pronounced [ni] "knee". This requires two processes. The first is phonological and relates to the changing to /ði/ when followed by a vowel. The second may be thought of as phonetic, caused by coarticulatory processes. Often /ð/ is pronounced as an approximant. If the preceding consonant is a ...


18

Actually, it's "worse" than that. Nearly all the vowels of English have more than one possible representation in IPA. For example: The vowel sound of the word "kit" can be written as [ɪ] or [i] The vowel sound in "lot" in British English can be written as [ɒ] or [ɔ] The vowel sound in "fleece" can be written as [i], [iː], [ij] or [ɪj] The vowel sound in "...


16

Based on the example you've given, I think the most clear answer is: Advertisement and Marketing. Words like "nite" as in "Nick at Nite" or "thru" as in "Drive Thru", "tonite" as in "Tonite Only", even "donut" as in "Dunkin' Donuts", are all marketing and advertisement inventions--mostly of the American variety. While donut predates Dunkin' Donuts by ...


16

Short answer In most varieties of General American these words use the same phoneme, /æ/. However the /æ/ in sag and the /æ/ in slant are different. The /æ/ in slant will be nasalised. It will also be shorter than the /æ/ in sag. Full answer In General American both these words use the vowel /æ/. [Some other varieties of English use different vowels in ...


16

Within one language community, the IPA may be simplified for dictionary entries. The /r/ is a classic example. In strict IPA usage, it is the sign for an r sound with a short trill, as in Italian Roma, but English sources routinely use this sign for any standard pronunciation of r. In this recording from the late 1920s of John Gielgud delivering a speech ...


14

The reason this problem arises is that the consonant in the middle of usual - which phoneticians call the voiced palatoalveolar fricative, and which is written in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as [ʒ] - doesn't have a fixed representation in the English writing system. When it occurs in words borrowed from other languages, we usually keep the ...


14

Consider the letter A. Now consider these: All of these forms are very different; but they are all understood as the letter A. Everybody pronounces the language differently; but what people hear is a very small number of “meaningful” sounds—phonemes. Just as we map the various physical realizations we see onto a small fixed inventory of characters, we ...


13

First, if you're actually teaching English to non-native speakers, you must learn and use at least those IPA symbols that represent English phonemes. Get yourself a copy of Kenyon and Knott and use it; or borrow one of your students' bilingual dictionaries. If you help them, your students can understand the pronunciations as they appear in their bilingual ...


13

Many speakers of Gen Am and also speakers of British Englishes, including some young RP speakers, use a hard attack on the second word to separate a word-final and word initial vowel. For a minority of speakers this also occurs after the definite article. A ʜᴀʀᴅ ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ is when a speaker uses a glottal stop, [ ʔ ], at the beginning of a word starting with a ...


12

Although the phonetic transcription in a dictionary may be the same, I do hear a difference in most native accents. Start: I'd say the H in Horse is a bit stronger than the WH Middle: I'd say the O in horse is more of an oe and shorter than in whore. You would probably hear more difference in some accents than others, though. My2¢ EDIT. This comment by @...


12

This is not a linguistic problem, it is mechanical one. If you pronounced them with the same length it would be proper, just more work. The alveolar position that produces the 't' sound is less similar to the position in which the vowel puts your mouth than the velar position that produces the 'k' sound is. You have to reverse the curvature of your tongue....


11

It doesn't. If it did, spectre (pronounced /ˈspɛk.təɹ/ and spectra (pronounced /ˈspɛk.tɹə/) would be exact homophones, and they aren't, although they do sound similar. Similarly, we don't think Dexter and extra are perfect rhymes, although you could get around this in a humorous poem by pronouncing extra as exter. Maybe some aspect of your native ...


11

Changing vowels to schwas is called vowel reduction, and it's incredibly common for most English speakers (not just people from Michigan).


10

It can also be a form of an eye dialect: The use of nonstandard spelling for speech to draw attention to an ironically standard pronunciation. The term was coined by George P. Krapp to refer to the literary technique of using nonstandard spelling that implies a pronunciation of the given word that is actually standard, such as wimmin for women; the ...


10

I've read through all of the words beginning with a through c in WS2's very useful list of -tion words, and so far I've found that the vast majority of the words in the -tion family carry a sh sound at the beginning of the final syllable. The main exceptions to that pattern are some words ending in -stion (bastion, combustion, congestion, counterquestion, ...


10

In words like grieves, clothes, many speakers stop the voicing of the final /z/ earlier than you might expect from the phonemic transcription. Most English speakers still hear the phonemes /vz/ anyway, because at the end of a word, /vs/ is a combination of phonemes that does not appear in English. We only need to distinguish between griefs and grieves: /...


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