Monday 6 August 2012


It’s seven weeks now since my stroke, and I’ve been back home from hospital for some time. Clearly, I’ve been very lucky: as strokes go, mine was a mild one. I can talk, I can walk. The only problem remaining is weakness in my left arm and clumsiness in my left hand.

I didn’t restart my blog earlier because so much of my time was taken up with thrice-daily visits from the team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech-and-language therapists, and doing the exercises they prescribed.

But now the physios (who deal mainly with balance and walking) have decided that their work with me is over: I’m back to normal. The SLT (who deals also with eating, drinking and swallowing) has decided likewise. The only visits now are from the occupational therapist making me work on my left hand. Even here I’ve passed several encouraging milestones: tying my shoelaces, opening a tin with a two-handed tin opener, unscrewing screw-top jars and bottles, buttoning and unbuttoning my shirt.

Anyhow, I’m going to restart this blog next Monday, 13 August, to coincide with the start of UCL’s annual Summer Course in English Phonetics.

_ _ _

Not everyone knows that Christine Ohuruogu, winner of the silver medal in yesterday’s Olympic women’s 400m race, is not only a brilliant athlete but also a linguist: she holds a BA in Linguistics from UCL. So she’s been properly trained in phonetics.


  1. It is great to hear of your recovery, John!

  2. We all are looking forward to (if not craving for) a restart of your blog!!

  3. oʊruˈoʊgu?

    What is the name of that typeface used for Phonetic Blog 2012?

    1. It's very rare for an English pronunciation to end in short [u] or [ʊ]. I think that her name would have to end in long /u:/ (the GOOSE vowel).

      The pronunciation of her name was discussed back in 2004. How do we users of IPA interpret "o-ho-roo-goo"? One of the first two syllables must surely have a schwa. How about /əʊhəru:gu:/?

    2. In this clip, it sounds like [ɔˈhərʉ:gʉ:]

      If she's trained in phonetics, perhaps she can come on this blog and tell us how she transcribes her name.

    3. Sounds like ɒhəˈruːguː to me.

    4. Geoff Lindsey has convinced me never to use ɒ. I shall never use it again.

      I don't think that it's [u:] for the GOOSE vowel. That's what I would say, and this sounds much more London-flavoured. I would argue for [ʉ:].

      You're probably right on the stress marking though. I've always been useless at those.

  4. Replies
    1. Truly, one of the worst fonts of all time.

    2. It got a mention on the BBC today (here - very last item on page).

  5. I'm very happy to see you again here, John!

  6. Excellent news!

    (I haven't had a stroke, but I gave up shoes with laces — in favor of Velcro and slip-ons — some years back.)

  7. Newyddion da – croeso nôl!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Oherwydd bod John yn deall y Gymraeg, a ddylai pawb arall yn ei dysgu!! :)

    3. Esgusodwch fi - gwnes i ddileu fy sylw uchod er mwyn ei newid, cyn i mi weld yr oeddech chi eisoes wedi ymateb iddo fo. Dyma'r sylw gwreiddiol: "Pam yn Gymraeg? Ond dwi'n siwr bod pawb yn cytuno efo'r teimlad." A dyma beth roeddwn i'n ceisio ei roi yn ei le:

      a ˈχrɔɨsɒ noːl ˈɔði ˈʊrθɨv viː ˈhɛvɨd

      (But I'll be writing in English from now on, in case this is starting to annoy people.)

    4. I've just put this into Google Translate, and it seems good at Welsh. I don't normally get such good results for German.

    5. Okay, have a Google Translate version of that last bit – not least because I've mistranscribed the o in oddi, not to mention whatever other mistakes I'm unaware of.

      Google Translate, for all its limitations, isn't bad here. Even in the other direction, it often seems to at least convey the sense (with the caveat that I'm a learner, so might be oblivious to some howlers). There's another one out there, called InterTran, that produces utterly hideous results. See example; even if you don't speak a word of Welsh, you'd probably guess that all those isolated 'r and 'n bits don't seem right. I just tried InterTran on English-French with the first phrase I could think of – I want to go to the town this afternoon. – and it came out with Je veux aller à vau-l'eau les ville tantôt. (Contrast with Google Translate's Je veux aller à la ville cet après-midi.) And they want money for it?

  8. Great to hear you're on the mend. We were all very worried about you!

  9. Very glad to hear you're recovering well.

  10. Great to hear! We look forward to the blog, but more importantly knowing that you are recovering well!

  11. It's great you are recovering. We all hope to have you with us healthy as soon as possible.

  12. Very pleased to see you back and well, and blogging. I didn't know that about Christine Ohuruogu.

  13. I am glad you back to normal.
    I wish you well

  14. I'm a glad you are getting well, dear Professor Wells. I'm looking forward to reading your insights again.

    Jérôme Poirrier
    Grenoble, France

  15. This is Good News! So glad to hear this. All the best!

  16. Saluton, John. Mi tre ĝojas pri via plibonfartiĝo, se tiel diri.

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