Monday, 21 July 2014

People Speaking - Dialogue 27.3

Here are the third and fourth lines of the dialogue (with 3b and 4b representing Jack Windsor Lewis's tonemarks):

3a) Jim: You went to the Lake District, didnt you?
3b) ˈYou ˈwent | to the `Lake District, ˏdidnt you?
3c) ju went ˊtə ðə leɪk ˌdɪstrɪkt, ̗dɪdn̩t ju?
4a) Margaret: No. Scotland.
4b) `No. `Scotland.
4c)`nəʊ `skɒtlənd

A few comments on Jim's intonation:

To my ears "you went" is a fall from high to mid and "to the lake" from mid to high again. "district" is said at bass level and the tag question "didn't you" rises from low to high.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Baltic port of Kiel

port of Kiel
 John Wells drew my attention to a BBC Radio 4 series on WWI called "1914: Day by Day". In its first episode entitled "Omnibus" one of the presenters consistently pronounced the name of the German Baltic seaport Kiel as ['khiɛɫ]. I don't mind the dark ell nor would I mind a slight schwa, but a diphthong with an [ɛ]? Tsk, tsk! It's [khiːl].The presenter is Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History at Oxford University; she should know better.

Listen to her making the following statement: "The British Navy is on a visit to the German base at the Baltic port of Kiel."

video


Thanks to Sidney Wood for pointing out some mistakes to me. I've tried to eradicate them.

Monday, 7 July 2014

People Speaking - Dialogue 27.2

Here's my suggestion of a transcription of the first line of dialogue no. 27

1a) Jim: Hullo, Margaret. Had a good holiday?
1b) `hᴧˏləʊ, mɑgrət.  ˈhad ə gʊd ˏhɒlə

On we go with the second line:
2a) Margaret: Hullo, Jim. Yes. Very nice, thanks.
2b) `haləʊ, ˏʤɪm. `jes. `veri naɪs ˏθaŋks.
Listen to the audio snippet:

video

My impression of 2a) is this:
2c) `hæləʊ, ˏʤɪm. `jes. `veri naɪs ˌθæŋks. 

The speaker's TRAP vowel is closer to CV3 than to CV4, which justifies the use of the ash symbol. I agree with all the tonemarks but one: "thanks" is said with a BASS tone. Here's the pitch contour of the whole line:


(There are some artefacts in the pitch contours; some of the pitch movements do not correspond with the auditory impression etc. See also Jack Windsor Lewis's blog no. 479.)

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Hullo, ell!

This is a continuation of my blog of the 28th of June taking up what Jack Windsor Lewis writes in his blog (no. 476) on the pron of "Hullo".
First listen to how the impersonator of Jim pronounces the word "Hullo" as he greets Margaret:

video

In defence or clarification of his position Jack writes: "Now, when I’d lissend repeatedly to the first syllable of Hullo, I was cert·n that it ended with an ell. On the other hand I was equally sure that the second syllable began with an ell." In further support of his hypothesis, he looks at the tonetic structure of the phrase Hullo Margaret, which he characterises like this: "It’s a Fall-Rise tone and, as I’ve sed, its Fall element seems to me to include an ell. [...] Notice also that the word Margaret has not got a tone to itself but it’s incorporated into the tail of a rising tone."

Let's start with the tonetic structure. 

The left-hand vertical line marks the approximate boundary between // and /l/, whereas the right-hand line indicates the end of /əʊ/. What we have here then is a trough which includes the ell(s) and the diphthong. In my opinion and to my ears this residual falling and subsequent rising of pitch does not compellingly lead to the verdict of two ells. Why should  our voice observe sound boundaries when we smoothly change the pitch from a fall to a rise?

I'd like to come back to Jack's auditory impression of two ells which he tries to substantiate by referring to "a separate further rhythmic pulse that clearly produces what we have surely to classify as an extra ell." If this "rhythmic pulse" is a purely auditory impression, I can't either verify nor falsify it because I can't settle in his brain. All I can do is demonstrate what I perceive as a long [l:] and a double [ll].

First, a version of what I perceive as a long ell:
video

Now a version of what I hear as two separate ells:
video
Any comments on this matter are welcome!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The same 'bouquet' with tonetic symbols

My sincere thanks go to ʤæk wɪnzə luːɪs for providing me with a tonemarked version of the mini-dialogue between Hyacinth and Elizabeth. I used my transcription of the sounds and his tone marks. Here's our joint venture:

1. aɪ ˈθɔːt wid hæv ðə ˈnaɪsə ˎtʃaɪnə |
2. ˋəʊ | ˋθæŋk ju haɪəsɪnθ |
3. ðεː ˏ‧sʌmθɪŋ əv ə ˏfæmli ˋ‧eəluːm |
4. əʊ ˋɡɒd | ˋdəʊnt ɡɪv mi eniθɪŋ ˋˏspeʃl̩ |
5. səʊ ju ˈwɪl bi ˎkeəfəl | ˎwəʊntʃu dɪə | ˊbɪskɪt |
6. wə ˋθæŋk ju |
7. aɪ ˈjuːs tə hæv ˋsɪks əv ˏði:z ntɪl ˈwʌn fel ɪntə ðə ˈhænz əv mɑ ˋbrʌðər ɪn lɔː | ˋˏɒnzləʊ | wʌn ˋˏkrɪsməs |
8. ˈaɪ ˏ‧kʊdəv ˋkɪld ɪm |
9. ˎkɔːs wʌn ˋkɑːnt meɪk ə ˋfʌs ɒn festɪv əˏkeɪʒn̩z |
10. bət i ˋsɜːtnli ɡɒt ðə ˋʃɔːt end əv ə ˋˏtɜːki | ˋaɪ kən tel ju |
11. ˈdɪd ðeɪ ˈtel ju wɒt wəz ˈrɒŋ wɪð jɔ: ˋfɑːðə |
12. ˋsʌmθɪŋ ˋmaɪdli ɪmˎbærəsɪŋ |
13. ˈwʌn əv ˈðəʊz | ˋmaɪnə dʒerɪˎætrɪk kəmˎpleɪnts | aɪ ˈkʊdn ˋkætʃ | ðə medɪkl̩ tɜːmɪˏ‧nɒlədʒi |
14. ə |

Jack also writes:
For anyone who might like to take this Hyacinth Bucket passage for a simple lesson on English intonation, all you need to know is the following easily remembered, straightforward, simple, fairly obvious guidelines:
1. Tones are of three types: Falls, Rises and Levels, each high or low.
2. Each tonemark is placed immediately before the syllable it applies to.
3. Vertical lines, called 'bars', signal the end of tonal phrases. [These are different from forward-leaning slashes "/" which enclose (phonemic) transcriptions.]
4. Tones' ordinary values are defined in terms of High, Mid and Low thus: A High Fall ˋa goes from High to Low, a Low Fall ˎa from Mid to Low, a Low Rise ˏa from Low to Mid, High Level 'a etc.
5. A dot after a tonemark signals a pitch range reduced from normal.
6. Any unmarked syllable initial in a tonal phrase is Mid (or lower).
7. The 'tail' (ie any unmarked syllables) following any tonemark continues as that tonemark indicates, eg after a Fall they all stay at bottom pitch. 
Jack would also like to add this:
The most striking feature among her intonation choices is the tone I call a drawled Drop (i.e. a descent from High to Mid) that she uses at ‘heirloom' producing an effect one could call ‘chortling’ (in cheerfully celebrating satisfaction). It's a variety of the tone use in calling informally and cheerfully to someone a little distance away as with 'Yoo-hoo’.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Love IPA!

credit: Pronunciation Studio Ltd.
 There's a new blog up and running dealing with teaching English pronunciation issues and IPA transcriptions. It's called "Love IPA" and to be found here. You may want to take a look at it.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A bouquet of transcription symbols

Hyacinth
Elizabeth

1. Hyacinth: "I thought we'd have the nicer china."
2. Elizabeth: "Oh, thank you, Hyacinth."
3. Hyacinth: "They're something of a family heirloom."
4. Elizabeth: "Oh God, don't give me anything special."
5. Hyacinth: "So you will be careful, wont you, dear? - Biscuit?"
6. Elizabeth: "Well - thank you."
7. Hyacinth: "I used to have six of these, until one fell into the hands of my brother-in-law, Onslow, one Christmas. 8. I could've killed him. 9.  Course, one can't make a fuss on festive occasions 10. but he certainly got the short end of the/a
turkey, I can tell you."
11. Elizabeth: "Did they tell you what was wrong with your father?"
12. Hyacinth: "Something mildly embarrassing. 13. One of those minor geriatric complaints. I couldn't catch the medical terminology."
14. Elizabeth: "Oh!"

You can listen to and enjoy this excerpt1)2) from the popular series 'Keeping up Appearances" at youtube in a particular version with subtitles. 'So what!', you may think. I would definitely not have mentioned it, had it been the usual subtitles. But this one's different; the subtitles are offered in a transcribed form. In a blog like the present one such an undertaking cries for scrutiny. The transcriptions have also been scrutinised by J. Windsor Lewis in his PhonetiBlog no. 477. Due to the revisions made to the subtitles of the video (see my two footnotes) I've decided to include both versions of subtitles.

"a)" indicates the original transcription of the sketch (= version 1),
"b)" refers to the updated transcriptions of the video (= version 2) and
"c)" is my version.

1a) aɪ ˈθɔːt wid həv ðə ˈnaɪsə ˈtʃaɪnə
1b) aɪ ˈθɔːt wəd 'hæv ðə ˈnaɪsə ˈtʃaɪnə
1c) aɪ ˈθɔːt wid hæv ðə ˈnaɪsə ˈtʃaɪnə
2a) əʊ ˈθæŋk ju ˈhaɪəsɪnθ
2b) 'əʊ ˈθæŋk ju ˈhaɪəsɪnθ
2c) 'əʊ | 'θæŋk ju ˈhaɪəsɪnθ
3a) ðæts ˈsʌmθɪŋ əv ə ˈfæməli ˈeəluːm
3b) ðeə ˈsʌmθɪŋ əv ə ˈfæmli ˈeəluːm
3c) ðεː ˈsʌmθɪŋ əv ə ˈfæmli 'eəluːm
4a) əʊ ˈɡɒd | dəʊnt ˈɡɪv mi ˈeniθɪŋ ˈspeʃl̩
4b) əʊ ˈɡɒd | 'dəʊnt ɡɪv mi ˈeniθɪŋ ˈspeʃl̩
4c) əʊ ˈɡɒd | 'dəʊnt ɡɪv mi eniθɪŋ 'speʃl̩
5a) ˈsəʊ ju wɪl bi ˈkeəfəl | wəʊntʃu dɪə || 'bɪskɪt
5b) ˈsəʊ ju 'wɪl bi ˈkeəfəl | 'wəʊntʃu dɪə || 'bɪskɪt
5c) səʊ ju ˈwɪl bi keəfəl | ˈwəʊntʃu dɪə || 'bɪskɪt
6a) wel  | 'θæŋk ju
6b) wel  | 'θæŋk ju
6c) wə | 'θæŋk ju
7a) aɪ 'juːs tə hæv 'sɪks əv ði:z ən'tɪl 'wʌn fel 'ɪntə ðə 'hænz əv maɪ 'brʌðər ɪn lɔː | 'ɒnzləʊ | wʌŋ 'krɪsməs
7b) aɪ 'juːs tə 'hæv 'sɪks əv 'ði:z ən'tɪl 'wʌn 'fel ɪntə ðə 'hænz əv maɪ 'brʌðər ɪn lɔː | 'ɒnzləʊ | wʌŋ 'krɪsməs
7c) aɪ 'juːs tə hæv 'sɪks əv ði:z ntɪl 'wʌn fel ɪntə ðə 'hænz əv mɑ 'brʌðər ɪn lɔː 'ɒnzləʊ wʌn 'krɪsməs
8a) ˈaɪ kʊdəv 'kɪld ɪm
8b) ˈaɪ kʊdəv 'kɪld ɪm
8c)  'aɪ kʊdəv 'kɪld ɪm
9a) əf ˈkɔːs | wʌŋ ˈkɑːnt ˈmeɪk ə ˈfʌs ɒn ˈfestɪv əˈkeɪʒn̩z
9b) əf ˈkɔːs wʌn ˈkɑːnt ˈmeɪk ə ˈfʌs ɒn ˈfestɪv əˈkeɪʒn̩z
9c) ˈkɔːs wʌn ˈkɑːnt meɪk ə ˈfʌs ɒn ˈfestɪv əˈkeɪʒn̩z
10a) bət i ˈsɜːtnli 'ɡɒt ðə ˈʃɔːt end əv ðə ˈtɜːki | ˈaɪ kən ˈtel ju
10b) bət i ˈsɜːtnli ɡɒt ðə ˈʃɔːt end əv ə ˈtɜːki ˈaɪ kən ˈtel ju
10c) bət i ˈsɜːtnli ɡɒt ðə ˈʃɔːt end əv ə ˈtɜːki | ˈaɪ kən tel ju
11a) dɪd ðeɪ ˈtel ju wɒt wəz ˈrɒŋ wɪð jɔ: ˈfɑːðə
11b) dɪd ðeɪ ˈtel ju wɒt wəz ˈrɒŋ wɪð jɔ: ˈfɑːðə
11c) dɪd ðeɪ ˈtel ju wɒt wəz ˈrɒŋ wɪð jɔ: ˈfɑːðə
12a) ˈsʌmθɪŋ ˈmaɪldli ɪmˈbærəsɪŋ
12b) ˈsʌmθɪŋ ˈmaɪldli ɪmˈbærəsɪŋ
12c) 'sʌmθɪŋ ˈmaɪdli ɪmˈbærəsɪŋ
13a) wʌn əv ðəʊz ˈmaɪnə dʒerɪˈætrɪk kəmˈpleɪnts || aɪ 'kʊdnt ˈkætʃ ðə ˈmedɪkl̩ tɜːmɪˈnɒlədʒi
13b) 'wʌn əv ðəʊz ˈmaɪnə dʒerɪˈætrɪk kəmˈpleɪnts || aɪ kʊdnt ˈkætʃ ðə ˈmedɪkl̩ tɜːmɪˈnɒlədʒi
13c) 'wʌn əv ðəʊz ˈmaɪnə dʒerɪˈætrɪk kəmˈpleɪnts || aɪ kʊdn ˈkætʃ ðə medɪkl̩ tɜːmɪˈnɒlədʒi
14a) --
14b) --
14c) ˈəʊ

It would have been advantageous for learners of English to have a version of this video with tone marks added to the transcriptions.

Update: There will be a another version with tones!

1) Before having finished writing this blog, the sketch excerpt had been removed by the user from here.
2) The authoress made some alterations to her transcriptions after having read Jack's blog 477 and then posted the video again. It is now to be found here.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

People Speaking - Dialogue 27.1

Readers are referred to blog no. 475 by Jack Windsor Lewis and to a sound file (to be found here). Text and sound file are taken from a valuable book with the title People Speaking which was published together with an audio cassette in 1977 by OUP. The booklet contains 53 dialogues and other texts of various length and difficulty read aloud by actors and recorded in a sound studio. Alas, neither the booklet nor the cassette are available any longer. Therefore I am all the more pleased and grateful to have received a copy of the booklet from the author's hands. You can find the texts and audio files on Jack's weblog.

In blog 475 Jack transcribes one of the dialogues - it's no. 27 - and makes some valuable comments on the way the dialogue was spoken by the actors and on related matters. I usually read them closely and check Jack's remarks against my own impressions by listening to the recording. Today I thought I'd share some of my observation with you. Here we go then.

1a) Jim: Hullo, Margaret. Had a good holiday?
1b) `hᴧlˏləʊ, mɑgrət.  ˈhad ə gʊd ˏhɒlə
Jim starts with a high fall - his voice starts fairly high and quickly drops to a low pitch on the first syllable of "Hullo" to rise again immediately on the second syllable and ends with a high pitch on the second syllable of  "Margaret":

video
Jim's voice starts at around 270 cps on /hᴧl/ and ends at about 310 cps on /grət/.

Jim begins his second sentence - "Had a good holiday?" - fairly high again (about 270 cps) and drops to 140 cps on the second syllable of "holiday", then rises again on the final syllable to a pitch of about 260 cps.
video

The word "Hullo" is transcribed with double /l/ by Jack. I see his point in doing so, because the l-sound is a teeny weeny bit longer than how the impersonator of Margaret says it in sentence 2  - 70 ms versus 65ms - but my impression is that this does not justify two l-symbols. (The second sentence will be discussed in a future blog). Update: See Jack's latest blog on the matter of one or two ells in "Hullo".

In the latest - eighth - edition of Gimson's IPE by A. Cruttenden the TRAP vowel is no longer transcribed by the ash symbol; the /a/ is used instead. Complying with this change, Jack transcribes Had as /had/. He correctly transcribes "holiday" as /hɒlə/ because that's what the speaker says. He also rightly points to the fact that the vowel of the middle syllable is usually a schwa nowadays. As to final // or /deɪ/, there are of course people who use // in compounds such as busman's holiday, holiday maker or holiday home, but my impression is that the pronunciation with /deɪ/ predominates these (holi-)days.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Beverley Collins


It is with great sadness that I have to announce the passing of Dr. Beverley Simeon Collins. I was shell-shocked when I heard of his sudden death and still am.
I first met Bev in 2010 at SCEP - the Summer Course in English Phonetics at UCL. I had the honour of giving some minor pieces of advice on the third edition of his Practical Phonetics and Phonology, which came out in 2013. We planned a workshop in 2014 for German teachers of English as a foreign language, which couldn't take place however, and so we postponed it to the coming year.

A friend and colleague is gone forever. His loss creates a huge void in the area of phonetics.

See also Jack Windsor Lewis's personal remarks on Bev's life and death, which are to be found here.