415

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 ...


98

There are sev­er­al fac­tors in play here. Dif­fi­cult con­so­nant clus­ters are of­ten re­duced in rapid speech or over time; think of friend­ship, spend­thrift, twelfth, months. Much of the dif­fer­ence be­tween an un­voiced and a voiced stop in English is ac­tu­al­ly not its voic­ing but its as­pi­ra­tion, and be­cause one nor­mal­ly on­ly as­pi­rates ...


70

The answer to this question is very complex if all details have to be included; but here is a very simplified version:   1. Homorganic lengthening Some time in the later stages of Old English (so some time around 1000 AD or so), a sound change happened whereby vowels were lengthened if they were immediately followed by a voiced homorganic consonant ...


52

The English language has incredibly many different regional accents, leading to the same words being pronounced differently by different people, sometimes in different places and other times in the same place. What’s happening here is that some people say [ˈkʰlɪntən], such as Mrs Clinton herself, but others say [ˈkʰlɪ̃ʔn̩] with a glottal stop where the /t/ ...


51

I'm going to show the acoustic signals that are on the tape. It's hard to be certain on this one because the normal cues that you'd look for are just very faint or hard to distinguish. I'd be surprised if a linguist comments decisively for the media about what the tape shows going strictly by the physical audio (they might infer using other techniques). ...


45

Mettle Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: a person's ability to cope well with difficulties; spirit and resilience. It is commonly seen in the phrase: (put someone) on their mettle meaning, (of a demanding situation) test someone's ability to face difficulties. ‘there were regular public meetings where local MPs were put on their mettle and ...


42

Never! It's called "the lazy 'R'", and to my Scottish ear it sounds terrible. However, some would say it's a matter of accent or dialect. If you are learning English as second language, then you shouldn't use it at all. It's not grammar, though, it's pronunciation.


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 ...


33

Martin (and commenters) are over-stating their position a bit. It's true that you never have to insert the R, but the idea that it's incorrect pronunciation stems from the idea that some English speaking accents are more correct than others. This is, of course, ridiculous. It may be worth noting that John C Wells considered the intrusive R to be part of ...


32

The allophones of /t/ in English are [tʰ], [t], [ɾ], and [ʔ]. Which of those you get in any particular word and speaker depends on many, many factors. Both trader and traitor alike are indeed pronounced [ˈtʰɹeɪɾɚ] by most North Americans, particularly in casual or quick speech. Intervocalic /t/ almost always reduces to a single flap [ɾ] there. That’s why ...


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 ...


30

Words whose sounds refer to, suggest, or otherwise are associated with a particular meaning are cases of sound symbolism. Although onomatopoeia - direct imitation of a real-world sound - is one type of sound symbolism, it is not the only one. A common sound symbolism is sound iconism. With the related clustering, this is the re-use of sounds across a set ...


29

This is a so-called “linking semivowel”. It’s typically not perceived as being as strong a sound as “original” syllable-initial /w/, so some linguists don’t like to transcribe it (see this blog post by the phonetician John Wells). The difference could be compared to the more drastic difference between the pronunciation of /p/ in “keep it” vs. “key pit”; ...


29

spicket Definition of spicket chiefly South & Midland [Middle USA] : spigot (Merriam Webster) Do you use "spigot" or "spicket" to refer to a faucet or tap that water comes out of? a. spicket (6.38%) b. spigot (66.89%) c. I use both interchangeably (2.52%) d. I say "spicket" but spell it "spigot" (12.64%) (Vaux, Bert and ...


24

Hwoa! Hwat’s with the hwistling hwisky? > In which English accents do they put an h before every word that starts with wh? That isn’t what’s going on — you only think you hear an h, because your phoneme set doesn’t include this sound, but its use is pretty common in various accents. Which accents? Lots. Scottish. Irish. Several counties in the north of ...


24

I support Dan Rumney's answer and I would like to explain a bit more. In non-rhotic English accents —ones in which an 'R' sound is not pronounced if it occurs before a consonant or "prosodic break"— an R at the end of a word would not normally be pronounced, unless it was followed by a word starting with a vowel, for example in the expression "tuner amp". ...


23

In American (but not British) English, /t/ and /d/ following a stressed vowel and preceding an unstressed one are normally neutralized to a flap [ɾ] sound. There are a lot of pairs that are neutralized this way; the standard example is writer ~ rider. However, that doesn't leave the pair indistinguishable, since English native speakers often lengthen ...


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

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 ...


19

This is a simple case of cluster reduction of /db/ → /b/, combined with assimilation: /n/ is labialised to /m/ before a bilabial consonant /b/ or /p/, and velarised to /ŋ/ before a velar consonant /g/ or /k/. I expect the cluster is reduced because it’s relatively uncommon. This is often where you encounter reduction and epenthesis. Compare: nuclear /klj/ →...


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

Part I The rule that Peter pointed out in comments is that it is voiced only in function words, not in others. (In fact, this is more of a law than a rule really, because it has no exception in English.) The complete list, excluding derived terms based on words in this list, is: than, that, the, thee, their, them, then, thence, there, these, they, ...


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 ...


17

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, while there are some cases in which I and Y can be used to represent the same sound, it is not always the case. They write that there are three situations in which a Y is used: About the middle of the 13th century y began to be used to represent the voiced palatal spirant /j/ , taking the place of the character ȝ (...


17

It’s because the ‹l› was never really there in any historical pronunciation of English. The reason why is an interesting one, and worth answering. The spurious “silent l” was introduced by the same people who thought that English should spell words like debt and island with extra “historical” letters, which would be silent but tell you something presumably ...


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 ...


15

The stop in syllables that end in a homorganic nasal-plus-stop cluster (in English, these clusters are /mb, mp, nd, nt, ŋɡ, ŋk/) is often elided. Word-final /-mb/ and /-ŋɡ/ never occur in Modern English, for example, although their dumb Middle English spellings hang around. Final /-nd/ does occur, though not always, but it's frequently neutralized with /-nt/...


15

The Wikipedia article on intervocalic alveolar flapping addresses this directly: The cluster [nt] can also be flapped/tapped; the IPA symbol for a nasal tap is [ɾ̃]. As a result, in quick speech, words like winner and winter can become homophonous. Flapping/tapping does not occur for most speakers in words like carpenter and ninety, which instead surface ...


14

It’s called metanalysis or rebracketing, amongst many other things: Rebracketing (also known as juncture loss, junctural metanalysis, false splitting, false separation, faulty separation, misdivision, or refactorization) is a process in historical linguistics where a word originally derived from one source is broken down or bracketed into a different set ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible