Monday, 2 July 2012

your transcriptions

Seeing some of the comments in transcription, I am reminded -- forgive me -- of beginning students whose transcriptions I must correct. Thanks for trying, but I hope you won’t object to a few corrections. No names, no pack drill: you know who you are.

For example, this is correctly transcribed ðɪs, not “θɪs”. That’s the elementary beginner’s error of conufusing the two dental fricative symbols.

Next, if you’re going to show t-glottalling, you must get it right. A glottal stop is different from zero.

One of you wrote need to as niːʔ tu. This is OK as long as you come from Yorkshire , but not otherwise. It’s not possible in London English or RP and certainly not in AmE. (In my book I call it “Yorkshire assimilation”: Voiced obstruent d is assimilated to voiceless t before a following voiceless obstruent t, and the t is then glottalled to ʔ.)

And then we had a toast to written ə təʊsʔ tu. I don’t know of any kind of English in which that would be possible. You can delete /t/ in that environment. but surely not make it glottal. T-glottalling is blocked by a preceding obstruent: it happens, if it does, only after a sonorant (= vowel, nasal or liquid). Zero (elision) is different from ʔ (glottalling).

Today’s assignment: when can right be pronounced raɪʔ in RP etc? Can it ever be prounounced raɪ?

Some of you are confused about ə and ʌ. OK, in many kinds of English there’s no contrast between them, so you could write ə for both STRUT and comma; but it is never correct to write ʌ for commA (schwa). So əˈnɑməlʌsli ought to be əˈnɑmələsli .

39 comments:

  1. Thanks for the corrections. :) In vacuo I've always thought the best way to indicate the way I pronounce things like toast to is with an unreleased t - the closure is made, but the sound is geminate rather than being released twice. I am but a humble student, of course, and well aware that my subjective perceptions as a speaker and amateur are worth about as much as the cost of transmission.

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    2. That's fine, of course, but then you should write it phonemically as t, certainly not as a glottal stop.

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  3. For me, the fourth syllable of anomalously — but not anomalous — is unreduced, so that's what I transcribed. I don't know why: a rhythmical law of some sort, perhaps?

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    1. In my accent it's more strongly stressed than the surrounding syllables but the vowel is definitely still schwa rather than STRUT.

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  4. | this is correctly transcribed ðɪs, not “θɪs”

    Guilty as charged! I should've know better of course, blame it on lack of time and unfamiliarity with writing English in IPA.

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    1. Turns out, one of the better books about teaching English pronunciation to foreign learners was written by – Dutchmen! So when you find the time, perhaps you would be interested to read it. And perhaps go through a few Wikipedia articles needing Dutch IPA transcription.

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    2. In fact, I quite often fix wrong pronunciation of Dutch on Wikipedia, but unfortunately anyone can edit it back :(

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  5. I think John Cowan is saying his /ʌ/ reduces to [ə] when unstressed. I too hear more of an [ʌ] when I say "anomolously", compared to the other two unstressed vowels, that is əˈnɑməˌlʌsli .

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    1. Do you hear an [ʌ] or an ɜ, which is not the same as [əː]. Looking at Professor Wells's Accents of English section on Upper (Class) RP, it's funny that he says a duchess would say nɐːs for nurse, I wonder whether [ɐː] is actually exactly an [ɜː], more open then a long schwa, but not as open as [ɐ]. I wonder if [ɜː] is actually the correct, precise sound Rupert Everett uses when he says Burton.

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    2. As you probably know, I don't believe in secondary stress in English. There are stressed, unstressed but unreduced, and unstressed and reduced syllables, illustrated by the second, first, and third syllables respectively of acknowledge in my pronunciation of it. I am saying that the fourth syllable of anomalously is one of the unstressed but unreduced varieties.

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  6. Coincidentally, I read the part of "Accents of English" recently where you said that /t/ is never glottalled and seldom glotallised in U-RP. (Page 282, should come up here) I presume that this is not the case any more, as Prince Harry has glottalled his /t/ on a few occasions.

    I would be surprised were a BBC News presenter to say [raɪʔ ɑ:nsə] "right answer" or [raɪʔ aɪdɪə] "right idea". However, it seems that [ʔ] in this position extends across all social classes amongst young people. If it's not RP now, it will be soon.

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    1. Which reminds me... What is that symbol above ɑ in nɪɑ, wɛɑ ~ wæɑ? An extra-short diacrtic or a centralized vowel one?

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    2. That means that the vowel is extra-short.

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    3. Odd. I wonder why that one and not a non-syllabic vowel one.

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    4. I have remembered this post by Alex from last year. Even the Queen uses glottal stops at times. It seems that they've been established in RP before syllabic /n/ for some time, but this is not the case before syllabic /m/. Can you imagine the Queen's saying "bottom" as [bɒʔm̩]?

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  7. I've come to the conclusion late in life that I'm not a purely RP speaker. But ever since I was a little boy, my accent has aspired to RP in formal and classroom contexts and among RP interlocutors.

    So as a near-RP speaker I can affirm that raɪʔ is impossible for me in right answer but normal in right left and centre and almost my constant choice in right royal. I'm not sure about all following consonants, but I'm confident that s is a trigger: always raɪt saɪz, never raɪʔ saız.

    ... Hm, I was comparing
    is the right ↘SIZE
    with
    is the right ↘ANSWER,
    but in other syntactic contexts it may be different: I think that after all I could say
    Is it the raɪʔ saız ↘CUP??

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  8. "so you could write ə for both STRUT and comma; but it is never correct to write ʌ for commA (schwa)"

    I disagree. Most accents (and speakers) of English have already replaced their pre-pausal [ə] sounds with whatever their realization of STRUT is, yielding [ˈjʌkʌ] for yucca. In some more advanced AmE accents, even post-pausal /ə/ gets realized the same way as STRUT is, e.g. [ʌˈbʌv] for above.

    So it's actually quite the other way round: /ə/ (commA) can have an allophone that sounds like /ʌ/ (STRUT), but STRUT is hardly ever realized as [ə]. Very few people have exactly the same vowel twice in luscious, i.e. neither *[ˈlʌʃʌs], nor *[ˈləʃəs]. The first vowel might be closer to [ɜ] for some AmE speakers, i.e. [ˈlɜʃəs], but even then they remain phonetically as well as phonemically distinct.

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    1. ... STRUT is hardly ever realized as [ə]...

      Colour me schocked. o_O

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    2. Did you mean [ˈjʌkʌ] or [ˈjɐkɐ] (fully back versus central)? Given that the pronunciation is between square brackets.

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    3. That depends on the dialect: BrE [ˈjɐkɐ], AmE [ˈjʌkʌ], but of course, [ʌ] is not meant to be as back as in the IPA chart, but, say, halfway between central and back (like [ʊ]). Phonemically it's /ˈjʌkə/.

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    4. Most accents (and speakers) of English have already replaced their pre-pausal [ə] sounds with whatever their realization of STRUT is, yielding [ˈjʌkʌ] for yucca.

      That's a very strong (and, to me, surprising) claim. Do you have any evidence for it?

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    5. That's a very strong (and, to me, surprising) claim. Do you have any evidence for it?

      I asked that too.

      That depends on the dialect: BrE [ˈjɐkɐ], AmE [ˈjʌkʌ], but of course, [ʌ] is not meant to be as back as in the IPA chart, but, say, halfway between central and back (like [ʊ]). Phonemically it's /ˈjʌkə/.

      I see, thank you for the reply!

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    6. I have to agree with teardrop about /kɑmʌ/. In my idiolect of American English, /ʌ/ and /ə/ are usually distinct phonemes, but they are allophones in word-final position. So I use both /kɑmə/ and /kɑmʌ/. It's generally /kɑmə/ if the word falls in the middle of a phrase, but /kɑmʌ/ at the end of a sentence.

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    7. On the other hand, the word in question was not 'comma' but 'anomalously', which I always pronounce with a schwa.

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    8. Geoff Lindsey mentions this a bit in his post about STRUT here, which include some clips from the current Queen as a teenager with a very open quality. However he also suggests this variation in commA doesn't happen in what I'd call modern RP (which he calls "Standard British").

      Pre-pausal schwa can vary quite a bit in British English. For example in Leicester, and apparently some other places, it can have a LOT-like quality. In my accent it is perhaps slightly more open than schwa is in other environments but it doesn't become like STRUT (which is one of those compromise Northern/RP vowels and usually rounded).

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    9. Of course, accents with a closer and rounded STRUT do not have this vowel as the pre-pausal allophone for /ə/, but even they tend to have an allophone that is more open and/or more retracted than [ə] is.

      I'm not sure Geoff Lindsey is right that this allophony doesn't happen in StBr. This phenonemon seems to me quite widespread. I hear it regularly when I watch TV or listen to the radio, no matter which side of the Atlantic the speaker is from.

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  9. STRUT is hardly ever realized as [ə]

    I hear it not infrequently thus realized in AmE, though it's not the most common pronunciation.

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    1. That realization is also found in Welsh English and Northern England English (including the Midlands). I also read somewhere that some West Country accents pronounce STRUT as [ə]. According to this article, Southern American STRUT can be a "high schwa" [ɘ]. I looked at the book it shows in the reference section, A Course in Phonology by Roca and Johnson, on Amazon to be sure and that's what it says.

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    2. Those varieties have a STRUT vowel that is either more open or slightly more retracted than [ə] is, or both.

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    3. That's not what the books I looked at said.

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  10. Today’s assignment: when can right be pronounced raɪʔ in RP etc? Can it ever be prounounced raɪ?

    I suspect that this is a reference to my writing raɪʔ naʊ for right now, and also that I must have got it wrong or you wouldn't have been asking the question. Not too much surprise there, as I'm a complete amateur! Would raɪtⁿ naʊ be more plausible?

    I'm still wondering, though, whether there could be a glottal stop when the right is accented, as in it was wrong but it's right now as opposed to don't wait; do it right now.

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    1. P.S. re I hope you won’t object to a few corrections: corrections always gratefully received.

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    2. No problem at all with raɪʔ naʊ.

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  11. ... but it is never correct to write ʌ for commA...

    In phonemic transcription?

    The Queen does, however, sometimes say ˈfjuːtʃɐ, kəmˈpjuːtɐ, ˈklevɐ, but it is a bit confusing to determin whether she ever uses the vowel halfway between [ɐ] and [ʌ].

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  13. John, havent you misspelt 'confusing' in the second paragraph?

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