Saturday, 28 May 2016

What are [ˈtuːt̬ərz]?

Do you know what triple homophones are? Here's an example: you - yew - ewe.
Another one is [ˈtuːt̬ərz], which does not work in General British however.

credit: Stephan Pastis

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Ze trip to Panama

The German Wikipedia dictionary has a new article on the so-called Panama Papers. The transcription of the compound is given as [ˈpanaˌmaː ˈpeɪpəʳz]. If it is intended to reflect the German pronunciation, there are a few inaccuracies in it:
credit: Amazon/Beltz

  • Panama (country or city) is regularly pronounced /'panama/ in German with a (usually) short final vowel and no secondary stress according to DUDEN;
  • Papers is a bit more varied in its pronunciation because Germans either adapt it to their native phonology and say ['pe:pɐs] or try to pronounce it the English way and produce a diphthong in the first syllable and/or use an r-coloured schwa in the second syllable if they prefer a GA-like accent. They may stick to a final /s/ as is usual in German or use the lenis variant;
  • as a compound I would definitely not assign Papers another primary stress.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Sunday, 20 March 2016

/r/ in preconsonantal positions in GB

Do you know John Maidment's SID? If not, take a look at it here; it's highly recommendable! Once you're there, click the letter R and then the headword rhotic. The last but one sentence is the one that made me write this short blog. I had never before questioned the claim that in General British as an accent of low rhoticity (or non-rhotic accent as some prefer to call it) the letter <r> is never pronounced in a preconsonantal position, e.g. in harm, form, torture. John draws our attention to one of the admittedly rare exceptions - ferrule, which is pronounced /ˈferuːl/ or /ˈferjuːl/. Are there any other words?
Here's a short list:
  • erudite, erudition
  • garrulous, garrulity
  • purulent, purulence
  • querulous, querulousness
  • sporule
  • virulent, virulence
And this is what ferrules look like:

Saturday, 20 February 2016

weakform-based pun

Here's a pun which 'relies' on a weakform pronunciation.

credit: John C. Wells
My thanks go to John Wells for spotting this.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Eau d'Ear

credit: Hancock McDonald

Sunday, 3 January 2016

New Page

I'd like to draw your attention to a new page I've added. It's to be found on the right-hand side of my blog.In the long run this page will replace six separate blog postings in January of 2015.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

season's greetings


Season's greetings to all my blog followers and best wishes for 2016!

Monday, 21 December 2015

OED transcriptions - examples (1) - weakforms cont'd

Jack Windsor Lewis kindly informed me that the new OED stuff 'went live' on Dec 9, so one mustn't expect such a major technical upheaval to work smoothly right from the start.
As I wrote in my previous blog, it's a pity we aren't told anything about the speakers. All we get to know in the release notes on pronunciations, written by Catherine Sangster, Head of Pronunciations, is this:
A small number of actor-phoneticians were recruited, and came to our recording facilities in Oxford to read each transcription aloud. Besides having clear voices, suitable accents, and some experience behind the microphone, they needed to be able to read the IPA transcriptions.
I am inclined to think, however, that they are not (sufficiently) phonetically trained to pronounce weakforms in a natural way or to pronounce a schwa whenever the script requires them to.

6. for (prep.)

There's no soundfile for the GB variant and no transcription or soundfile for the GA version.

7. must (aux.)

 Listen to both versions:


For both vowels I'd use the IPA symbol /ʌ/. Why a schwa then in the OED? To answer the question one has to delve into the Uptonian universe of transcription sets. There's a short introduction into this alien galaxy in the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (~ ODP) written under the editorial baton of Clive Upton, William Kretschmar and Rafal Konopka. On its page xi one finds under the heading "Technical discussion: transcription sets" the announcements that
a) the transcriptions are "broadly phonetic", that
b) the "intention is always to indicate actual sounds to be produced" and that
c) two different sets "are appropriate to the BR [= General British] and AM [= General American] models used".
Here are the two sets as depicted in the ODP:

credit; Oxford University Press
credit: Oxford University Press

As you can see the GA set does not contain the STRUT vowel but only the mid-central schwa. In my humble opinion the representation of a spoken /ʌ/ by /ə/ is neither "broadly phonetic" nor does it "indicate actual sounds".

8. shall (aux.)

The GA transcriptions are missing.

9. to (prep.)

There's no soundfile for /tə/ either in GB or GA.