Tuesday 19 October 2010

Hugh Laurie reading aloud

credit: www.guy-sports.com
You are probably familiar with the YouTube video clip in which Hugh Laurie (a British actor) and the chat show host Ellen DeGeneres (an American TV entertainer) sit together in a show and exchange what they call "slang" terms. Hugh Laurie reads out from a card his first British term "chin wag", which he pronounces /ʃɪn wæɡ/. He does so several times and even when Ellen repeats it as /ʃɪn wæɡ/, the mistake obviously escapes his notice. He finally becomes aware of his mispronunciation when he explains the meaning of the term. The next expression is "chuffed to bits", which is read three times by Mr Laurie; he makes the same mistake when he pronounces it the 2nd time saying /ʃʌft tə bɪts/. The other two repetitions are okay.

As we all know the pronunciations of 'chin' and 'shin' are very similar. Phonologists who subscribe to the notion that /ʧ/ is a single phoneme call the two words a 'minimal pair'.

'To chin wag' means 'to chat' and 'to be chuffed (pleased, thrilled) to bits' stands for 'to be very much pleased'.

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