Tuesday, 21 November 2017


In 2001 Oxford University Press published the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English at the fairly decent price  of less than £ 20.00. After more than a decade a second edition has become available, which is now sold by Routledge. The hardback edition costs £ 180.00 - a price that really puts me off. There's no paperback edition available, just an e-book at almost £ 36.00 to be consulted either online or offline. Offering dictionaries online seems to be an increasing trend - like it or not.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 9

This blog is about word-final /ʧ/ and /ʤ/ and pre-fortis clipping.

  1. I have a batch of documents here for you to sign.
  2. We are delighted to have the first batch of products.
  3. I was handed a badge with my name on it.
  4. I see this as a badge of honour.
  5. The eighth letter of the alphabet is the aitch.
  6. In the word heir you drop the aitch.
  7. She's 23 years of age.
  8. Hyacinth is the same age as me.
  9. The bird balanced on a branch of a larch.
  10. The larch is a popular tree species.
  11. The sums of money he had lost were large.
  12. Charities, by and large, do not pay tax.
  13. The police did not ban the march.
  14. She started work last March.
  15. In informal spoken British English margerine is often pronounced marge.
  16. Marjorie and Margaret are often shortened to Marge.
  17. The Nile perch is an edible fish.
  18. A high place where you can watch things is called a perch.
  19. Were there any plans to purge ethnic minorities?
  20. You should purge your hard disks before you leave the company.
  21. She was obviously stinking rich.
  22. The houses in this street belong to the rich and famous.
  23. The sun disappeared behind the ridge.
  24. It was just a small ridge of sand.
  25. Do an online search on ‘rabbit’ and see what it brings up.
  26. It was too dark to search further.
  27. Last year there was a surge in our profits.
  28. Adrenalin will surge through your veins.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 8

'Uckly' sounds ugly

Some of my phonetics students tend to replace the consonant sequences /-gl-/, /-gn-/ and /-gr-/ by their partners /-kl-/, /-kn-/ and /-kr-/.
  1. He thinks he's ugly but he's not.
  2. They live in an ugly block of flats.
  3. Jealousy is an ugly emotion.
  4. It's a really ugly picture of me.
  5. Indoctrination is such an ugly word.
  6. The couple is in an ugly fight over who will get the children.
  7. An igloo is a house made from blocks of hard snow or ice.
  8. The house is shaped like a gigantic igloo.
  9. The Inuit word 'igloo' means house.
  10. The evening sky was still aglow.
  11. Her face was aglow with happiness.
  12. The title of Tracey Peterson's book is Hearts Aglow
  13. This chemical will agglutinate the cancer cells.
  14. The virus has lost the ability to agglutinate blood cells. 
  15. When powders are added to liquids, they tend to agglomerate.
  16. After contact, the wetted particles agglomerate rapidly
  17. The candle ignited the plastic. 
  18. These were the events that ignited the war in Europe.
  19. The compound ignites at 450 degrees Celsius.
  20. You can’t ignore the fact that many criminals never go to prison.
  21. Paul left his key in the ignition again.
  22. This is the most likely source of ignition.
  23. The phone rang but they ignored it.
  24. John rudely ignored the question.
  25. Just ignore him and he'll stop pestering you.
  26. The waiter totally ignored Glen. 
  27. He was derided as an unschooled ignoramus.
  28. I don't believe in God - I am an agnostic. 
  29. Dreaming is a highly complex cognitive activity.
  30. This substance is said to enhance cognitive functions.

Newspaper article headline

The renowned German daily FAZ published an article on business English on November 4th this year bearing this headline:

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 7

This blog is about word-final /k/ and /g/ and pre-fortis clipping.
  1. I was glad to see the back of him.
  2. A brig is a ship with two masts.
  3. The duck on the river started quacking.
  4. I can see you through a crack in the door.
  5. D’you see the brick over there?
  6. She dug around in her bag for some coins.
  7. You don’t have to dig very deep to find out his name is Dick.
  8. What a massive crag this is.
  9. Brazil is in a different league.
  10. Many people lack adequate arrangements.
  11. Does Britain still lag behind the rest of Europe?
  12. It’s the best pig.
  13. The explosion was caused by a gas leak.
  14. Have a look at the menu and take your pick.
  15. The wig has to be trimmed.
  16. I have a snack in the basket.
  17. You’ve got to wear a name tag in our company.
  18. Can you pass me a tack, I want to fasten my name tag to the board.
  19. Can you see anything in my bag?
  20. The wick has to be trimmed.
  21. The snag is that the job is not very well paid.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 6

Today's blog contains practice sentences with word-final /t/ and /d/. In let the /e/ is shorter than in led, and in lent the /n/ is shorter than in lend. The same shortening applies to the /l/ in felt as opposed to felled. Here you go!
  1. The new rate was a shock.
  2. The new raid was a shock.
  3. The police led the criminal out of the shop.
  4. The police let the criminal out of the shop.
  5. D'you know how to spell tight?
  6. D'you know how to spell tide?
  7. Our nanny hit the baby.
  8. Our nanny hid the baby.
  9. She sent me a lovely card.
  10. She sent me a lovely cart.
  11. I know she can ride well.
  12. I know she can write well.
  13. There's a drunk outside the house.
  14. I don't like the sight of it.
  15. Toddlers quickly learn bad words.
  16. After he had felled the tree, he felt much better.
  17. When you come round the bend slow down.
  18. I'm particularly fond of the Times font.
  19. She's hard on the outside, but she's got a heart of gold.
  20. Is it Wates Grove or Wades Grove?

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 5

The following sentences contain words with word-final voiced or voiceless bilabial plosives, i.e. /p/ and /b/ as in lap - lab. Make sure the vowel in front of /p/ is shorter than in front of /b/. If the plosives are preceded by a sonorant, it's the latter which is shortened if /p/ follows.

  1. The zoo assistant went over to the pub.
  2. The zoo assistant went over to the pup.
  3. Please, pass me the robe.
  4. Please, pass me the rope.
  5. The cat was sitting in my lab.
  6. The cat was sitting in my lap.
  7. This tribe is harmless.
  8. I'm not going to watch the tripe that's on TV:.
  9. There's a mop around the corner.
  10. There's a mob around the corner.
  11. Rip the flesh from the rib-cage.
  12. The cop was young and eager to learn.
  13. The cob was young and eager to learn.
  14. I take a nap every afternoon.
  15. The police will nab you for speeding.
  16. He left his cap in a cab.
  17. Watch out or I give you a bop on the nose.
  18. At last I’m making a few bob.
  19. I'll have the crab cake, please.
  20. I don't believe all that crap.
  21. It's not that simple.
  22. The dove is a symbol of peace.
  23. I've prepared an apple crumble.
  24. Be careful or you'll crumple to the ground.
  25. A tulip bulb is not a seed.
  26. He drank the whiskey in one gulp. 

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Interdental ell

I must admit it never occurred to me that there are people who stick their tongue tip out when they pronounce an ell. Browsing my video clips I found a short recording of a speech by Ed Miliband from 2011.

Watch his tongue as he pronounces the words "Labour" in the phrase "Labour's plan for Britain's future" and "Let's" in "Let's make it happen together". The /p/ of "plan" seems to block an interdental articulation.The film lags a bit behind the sound.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 4

My previous blog on exercises (see here) was about abutting plosives such as /tt/ or /gg/, which share both voicing and place of articulation. In the present blog I'd like to introduce a bit of a variation: the place of articulation remains identical but one of the plosives is voiceless while the other is voiced or vice versa. So we get /pb/, /td/, /kg/, /bp/, /dt/, and /gk/. What is the usual release behaviour here?
Try this sentence: "How can I make my own lip balm?" Do you release the /p/ in lip? My suggestions is - don't! Unless, of course, it's a situation in which you're required to speak very clearly, for example, when there's a lot of ambient noise or your interlocutor is hard of hearing.

Basically the release behaviour is the same as in the case of /pp/, /bb/, etc. BUT make sure that you observe the feature called pre-fortis clipping. Compare
  1. This is a portable lock cabin.
  2. This is a portable log cabin.
 You neither release lock or log audibly, but the vowel in front of /k/ (= the fortis plosive) is shorter (i.e. is clipped in its duration) than the vowel in front of /g/ (= the lenis plosive).

Here are a few sentences for you to practise:
lock gate
  1. Mad TV broadcasts international music.
  2. Matt Damon is a famous American actor.
  3. The sun beat down over the desert.
  4. A bead tool is a cutting tool to make beads.
  5. This is the sad truth about double standards.
  6. She sat down in the couch next to me.
  7. You must check the position of your lap belt.
  8. We're going to celebrate her birthday at the lab party.
  9. Rip bullets penetrate deep into the object.
  10. Players will benefit from a rib protector.
  11. To raise and lower boats you need a lock with two lock gates.
  12. Where can I buy a portable log cabin?
  13. I bought a back glitter cover for my iPhone.
  14. It's a bag company where fashion meets function.