Monday 31 December 2012

Happy New Year

I wish you a healthy and catastrophe-free New Year!

credit: Tony Stanley

Sunday 30 December 2012

Fiona Bruce again

credit: Kotomicreations
I accept JWL's challenge (see my blog of the 23rd of December) and transcribe Fiona Bruce's signing-off sentence myself /hɛː/. A few comments are added. The sentence goes like this:

Well, that's it from us. There's more on the BBC news channel including a fresh look at tomorrow's front pages. But now on BBC One it's time to join our news teams where you are. Bye-bye.
 First, here's JWL's version again:
[wəl `ats ɪt fm ˈᴧs | ðɛz ˎmɔː | ɒn ðə bibsi ˈnjʉz ʧanl | ɪŋxlʉdɪŋ ə ˈfrɛʃ ˈlək | ət təˈmɒɾz frᴧnt ˎpeɪʤɪz | bət ˈnã̟ʊ | ɒn bibisi ˈwᴧn | ɪs ˈtaɪn tə ˈʤɔɪn | ɑ njʉ simz wɛ ˎjʉ ɑ | ˈbɐ ˈbaɪh] 

Here's my version split up in several chunks of various length:
1. [wə ðæts ɪt fm ˎʌs] (This section lasts roughly 600ms. Mark the relaxed weakform pronunciations of well and from. In contrast to JWL I do hear a voiced 'th' at the beginning of that.) 
2. [ðɛz ˎmɔː ʔɒn ə biˑbsi ˈnjʉ ʧænl̩] (Note the weakform for the definite article the. I can't spot an eth in the. The whole phrase lasts about 1.38s. )
3. [ɪŋɣ̊lʉdɪŋ ə ˈfrɛʃ lɘk ɘth] (The /k/ in including is a slightly voiced velar fricative; the vowel quality of look and at is difficult to determine because the vowel duration is extremely short. For my ears the vowels have a fairly half close character.)
4. [tˈmɒrz̥ frᴧnt ˎpeɪʤɪz] (For a news presenter it's a very relaxed pron of tomorrow's.)
5. [bət ˏnã̟ʊ] (There's a low rise on now.)
6. [ʔɒ̃n ˊbibisi wᴧn] (with a high rise on BBC One)
7. [ɪs ˈtaɪn tə ˈʤɔɪn ʔɑ ˈnjʉ siːm wɛ jʉ ɑ] (Mark the change of the consonant sequence at the word boundary between news and teams.)
8. [bɐ ˈbaɪ] (The diphthong in bye has an almost whispery character.)

Update: Please don't miss Jack Windsor Lewis's blog no. 432 on this topic.

Monday 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Dear blog followers!
I wish you a peaceful, relaxing Merry Christmas.


Sunday 23 December 2012

a rarer type of assimilation

John Maidment in his blog of the 14th of December reports on a rare type of assimilation illustrated by examples such as something as /sʌnθɪŋ/ or himself as /hɪnself/. The speaker who used these assimilations is Fiona Bruce, broadcaster of the BBC News at Ten. On the 21st John heard another such assimilation. I was lucky to have recorded this news broadcast so that I'm able to provide evidence. Listen to the sentence "... But now on BBC One it's time to join our news teams where you are"; you clearly hear her say /taɪn tə/.

credit: BBC one

The phrase "time to" starts at about 0:06 in the zoomed-in version of the clip. Watch her lips!

Friday 14 December 2012

beer or what?

Students of my phonetics courses are requested to take an IPA (= Individual Pronunciation Assessment) test.
One of the test sentences runs like this: "What do you choose - beer or juice?"
Some of my young professionals try to avoid word-final fortissification (typical of their native language), so the sentence materializes as: "What do you choose - beer or Jews?"

credit: Dinner Series


Wednesday 21 November 2012

100 k pageviews

My blog has exceeded 100,000 pageviews. Its first entry dates back to the 4th of September, 2010. People from 175 countries have visited this blog. At present the blog contains 322 entries.
Most viewers had a look at the entries for professional, i.e. phonetic, reasons (at least that's what I believe).
My sincerest thanks to all of you, particularly to those who cared to write a comment.

In case you don't fancy being kissed by my smiley, simply ignore it.

Monday 12 November 2012

double idioms (5) or: she brightened my day

During the first weeks of a new semester I ask my phonetics students (aka young professionals) to come and see me for a diagnostic pron test. This morning a young lady came to see me and I had her read my list of words, phrases and sentences. One of the latter is a double idiom:

He has a finger in every pie.

1. Where would you normally place the main stress  - on finger, every or pie?
2. In case you don't know or are insecure - which general purpose, monolingual English dictionary would you consult?
3. How did my guinea pig pronounce the sentence?

The answers will be put online in a jiffy.

PS: Sorry for my extended silence, but I had (and still have) a lot of things to do which were/are of first priority.

Here are the answers:

credit: OUP
1.He has a finger in every 'pie. The main stress is on pie unless you explicitly want to put the focus on a different word.
2. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
3. /hi hæz ə fɪŋə ʔɪn evərɪ piː/

You probably understand why she brightened my day, don't you?

Monday 8 October 2012

be crative!

I've been listening to another broadcast of BBC Radio Four's series Four Thought, this time a talk given by Gerard Darby, freelance writer, researcher and trainer in creativity. In his speech he argues that present-day education damages creativity.
Darby uses the words creative, creatively and creativity several times. Listen to a random selection:

credit: BBC

While I was writing this I saw that Jack Windsor Lewis had also noticed the compression of these words (see his blog # 347).

BTW: Mr Darby seems to be very fond of compressing words. Here are some more:

/sluːʃn/ - solution
/kɒntri/ - contrary
/əpriːʃeɪt/ - appreciate
/ɪnɪʃtɪv/ - initiative

Sunday 7 October 2012

an alde teerme


Leaving aside some extinct meanings correption according to OED is a term used to describe "[s]hortening in grammar" (OED, lemma CORREPTION). The first attested use dates back to the 1871 book The Philology of the English Tongue (London) by the philologist John Earle (1824-1903). On page 539 of said book we read:

John Wells in vol.1 of his Accents of English writes on page 241:

"The phenomenon [= smoothing] has sometimes been referred to as 'levelling' (so Jones 1956: §414). But this term usually implies something rather different. I did for a time think of calling it 'correption' (mindful of the Latin grammarians' phrase vocalis ante vocalem corripitur), but have now decided to propose Smoothing as a more generally acceptable term."

In case your mind is not full of Latin grammar rules: Take the Latin verb audīre (to hear) with a long i-vowel. The 2nd person singular present tense subjunctive form is audias with a short i-vowel due to the following vowel which shortens the preceding one. For this shortening process the Latin grammarians used the verb corripere and by substantival derivation correptio.

If truth be told it must be noted that Henry Sweet had decided to propose the term 'smoothing' much earlier, namely in his 1888 book A History of English Sounds from the Earliest Period (Oxford) in §70 on page 22:

 Mention is again made by Sweet in his 1891 publication A New English Grammar (Oxford) in §720:

Saturday 6 October 2012

a grand old English tradition

This is an off-topic blog entry:

I've just listened to a talk given by Matthew Engel (/eŋgl/), former Financial Times correspondent in Washington, on the topic of Americanisms in British English. You can listen to this talk on BBC Radio Four. What amused me - and this is the reason why I'd like to share it with you - is the way Matthew Engel finished his talk:

The most irritating thing of all comes when I do something while driving that upsets another motorist who gives me the finger. That is a very offensive gesture. Please, any of you: If I ever cut in front of you on the motorway, I expect, I insist, I demand that you give me two fingers in the grand old English tradition.
Should you drive on an English motorway, please, comply with Mr Engel's demand. And make sure that the palm faces you.

Friday 5 October 2012

sometimes /præps/ is /pæps/

Richard Dawkins
credit: Shane Pope
In his recommendable blog #423 of the 4th of October, in which Jack Windsor Lewis writes about /r/ elision, he mentions a BBC radio interview between Jim Al-Khalili and Richard Dawkins, professor of evolutionary biology and author of books such as The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, probably two of his best-known books. The interview was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on the 4th of September.

Fairly at the beginning of this interview Al-Khalili asks Richard Dawkins: "With these two books do you think you hit a nerve or need among the general population?" To which Richard Dawkins replies: "Two different nerves I suppose. I mean The Selfish Gene is about biology, is about evolutionary biology and although at time I thought I was just laying out what was a kind of orthodoxy and it turns out that perhaps that wasn't quite right."

What is interesting here and what Jack refers to in his blog is the way Dawkins pronounces the word highlighted in my transcript - "perhaps".

Listen to the section "[...] and it turns out that perhaps that wasn't quite right."

There's no /r/-sound audible.

The 'big three' do not mention this informal variant pronunciation, although they do record /præps/. You needn't imitate the r-less variant, but should be prepared to stumble across it.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

woe a knee

credit: Ric James

John Maidment in his blog of the 18th of September rants about one of Jeremy Paxman's questions in the academic quiz show University Challenge. Paxman asked the two teams:
""Wo ai ni" , "te dua" and "t'estimo" are the respective Mandarin, Albanian, Catalan equivalents of which three word English sentence?" The bone of contention was Paxman's pronunciation of the Mandarin sentence, which should have been /wɔ ai ni/, but was ejaculated by Paxman as /wəʊ  eɪ niː/. If I had to ask this question I would have needed a transcription. Why didn't the team behind the quiz show provide it?

Be it as it may - if you care to hear the question, here it is: 

credit: BBC Two

Sunday 9 September 2012

Beloved - not only by Toni Morrison

'Beloved' is the title of a novel by Toni Morrison, the famous American writer and Nobel Prize Laureate.

cover of the 1st ed.

I am interested in the pronunciation of 'beloved' (of course). What do the three top dogs tell us?
LPD3 has this (1st the UK pron, then the US):
Although the main entry is transcribed with a third syllable (the KIT vowel being recommended), both speakers pronounce only two. According to the accompanying text the latter pron is restricted to the predicative use of beloved.

EPD18 is  a bit more confusing. We're first given the transcription of the predicative use with 2 sylls, but the speakers of the two model accents present us with different versions (again 1st UK, then US):

As regards the attributive usage, the prons match at least one of the transcriptions. Listen:

What's our maverick got to say?
credit: ODP, lemma beloved
 As you see, the 3rd syllable is always optional.

Confused by all this? My advice to EFL speakers is this rule of thumb:

If beloved is used attributively, as a noun or in formulaic speech, pronounce it /biˈlʌvɪd/:
  • I was in my beloved London;
  • in memory of our dearly beloved daughter;
  • it was a gift from her beloved;
  • Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today ...
If it is used predicatively, use /biˈlʌvd/:
  • she was beloved by all her readers;
  • Prof X, much beloved by his students, died in an accident.
But don't be surprised or disappointed if NSs don't comply with this recommendation.

One last question and an answer to it: How is the title of T. Morrison's book pronounced?
/biˈlʌvɪd/ (or /biˈlʌvəd/).

Thursday 6 September 2012

search keywords

The blogger software enables me to see the keywords readers of my blog use to search my postings (don't worry - it's totally anonymous; I can't relate the search words to the user's URL).
Today one of my readers searched for "Kraut idioms".
Dear Madam or Sir, I feel honoured, flattered and flabbergasted.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

a wicked witch

As you can see in the title to this blog entry, it's another ed-word I've selected for you: wicked.

Firstly, there is the past tense (or present perfect or past perfect) of a verb to wick - wicked. One of its meanings is described by the OED a) in its intransitive use as "to migrate by capillary action" and b) in its transitive use as "to absorb or draw off (liquid) through capillary action". Here's one sample sentence for each usage:
a) the material allows sweat to wick away from the body;
b) the fabric wicks moisture very quickly.

Secondly, there's the adjective wicked in the sense of 'having a wick' (= the piece of thread in a candle) as in
c) he used a double-wicked candle.

Thirdly, wicked can also be an adjective (and an adverb or noun) in the sense of 'behaving badly' as in
d) she's the typical wicked stepmother
or meaning 'very good' as in
e) this is a wicked bike.

The pronunciation of wicked varies with the meaning of the word. Try these:
  1. they sell two-wicked candles;
  2. he wrote a wicked book;
  3. the air wicked away the sweat that trickled down my body;
  4. Emmet had a wicked grin on his face;
  5. he's become one of the most wicked on the globe;
  6. the GoPro Hero HD is a wicked camera;
  7. I just bought a wicked new computer game;
  8. Okay, let's go to the beach now. - Wicked!;
  9. a double-wicked lamp gives more light;

Monday 3 September 2012

There was a crooked man ...

credit: Trisha Fawyer

The next word ending in -ed is crooked. Besides crook as a noun (designating a criminal or a shepherd's stick) there's the verb to crook (meaning to bend) and the adjective crooked characterising an object as bent or twisted or a person as dishonest. The adjective (and the noun derived from it) is pronounced /krʊkɪd/, /krʊkəd/, the verb form crooked follows the usual rule and is pronounced /krʊkt/.

A few sample sentences:
  1. your tie's crooked;
  2. she crooked a finger at him;
  3. these crooked streets are a maze;
  4. all of them are crooked;
  5. he crooked his elbow;
  6. Marcus Duvall is a crooked cop;
  7. braces will correct the crooked smile;
  8. the picture's crooked to one side;
  9. the crooked shall be made straight (Isaiah 40:4);

Saturday 1 September 2012

blessed be the man that spares these stones ...

credit: Jim Fess
After aged and learned I'd like to take a look at blessed. Again there're basically two pronunciations - /blest/ and /blesɪd, blesəd/. Here are some sample sentences/phrases for you to test yourself:
  1. he was blessed with rare talents;
  2. the Blessed Virgin Mary;
  3. there was blessed silence;
  4. blessed are the poor in spirit;
  5. the priest blessed the bread and wine;
  6. I can't see a blessed thing;
  7. Where's John? - I'm blessed if I know;
BTW: D'you happen to know where those four lines are to be found? It's an epitaph.

Friday 31 August 2012

turquoise in LPD, EPD and ODP

ˈtɜːkwɔɪz,  ˈtɜːkwɑːz
ˈtɝːkwɔɪz, ˈtɝːkɔɪz
ˈtɜːkwɑːz, ˈtɜːkwɔɪz
ˈtɝːkwɔɪz, ˈtɝːkɔɪz
ˈtəːkwɔɪz, ˈtəːkwɑːz

Thursday 30 August 2012

Stephen Fry's turquoise

I've copied out the pron of 'turquoise' for closer examination.

after the after-lunch chat

Jack Windsor Lewis (= JWL) in his blog 417 compares my (= Kraut) intuitive transcription of the chat between Fry and Hockney with his, which is based on the original radio transmission.
To enable my followers to compare these transcriptions with the original sound track, I’m putting it online (in the hope the BBC won’t mind). Please remember that my transcription does not try to represent the sound tracks.

Kraut ɪts wʌndəfl tə θɪŋk əv hʌndədz əv θaʊznz əv piːpl aʊt ðɛː | ən ɪf wi bəʊθ sed ðə wɜːd | aɪ dən nəʊ | tɜːkwɔɪz | wɒts ɪn piːplz maɪndz |
JWL ɪts `wᴧndəfl | tə θɪŋk əv `hᴧndədz əv θaʊznz ə piːpl `aʊt ˏðɛː | ən ɪf ˈwiː ˈbəʊθ | ˈseɪ ðə ˈwɜːd | ˈəm | ˈaɪ ˈdɜːnt ˈnəʊ | `tɜːkwaɪz | ˈwɒt ˈɪz | ɪn piːplz ˎmaɪnd.

Kraut jes | a miːn | ɪts ə lɪtl bɪt dɪfrənt frəm wɒts raɪzɪŋ ʌp ɪn ðeə hed | a miːn wɪr ɔːl ɒn ɑːr əʊn | ɑːn wi |
JWL ˎjӕs | ɑː ˈmiːn | ˈɪts | ɪts ə lɪdl bɪt `dɪfrənt. sᴧmθɪŋz ˈ(b)raɪzɪŋ | ᴧp ɪn ðə `hed. ɛː ˈmiːn | wɪr ɔːl ɒn ɑːr `əʊn | ˈɑːn ˈwi …

Kraut ɪt siːmz tə bi |
JWL `jes ɪt `siːmz tə ˏbiː.

Kraut jes tɪz | [section omitted] rɪmembə | ɪt wəz dɒktə ɡɜːblz hu veri ɜːli ɒn | baɪ naɪntiːn θɜːti θriː | rɪəlaɪzd ðət reɪdiəʊ wʊdm bi ðæk ɡʊd fə prɒɡændə | fɪlm wʊb bi betə | bikəz ɪn fɪlm evribɒdi sɔː ðə seɪm θɪŋ | ɒn ðə reɪdiəʊ ðeɪ dɪdnt |
JWL `jes ɪt ˎɪz. [ jər `ɔːwɪz gedɪŋ bӕk tə ðӕt. dju]. ˈmemˈbər  ˈᴧ | ɪt  wəz ˈdɒktə ˎgəʊblz | u ˈveri ˈɜːli ˎɒn | ˈnaɪnˈtiːn | θɜːti ˎθriː | ˈrɪəˈlaɪz ðət | ˈreɪdiəʊ wʊdn bi ðӕt `gʊd fə prɒpəˏgӕndə. `fɪlm | wʊd bi `betə | bikəz ɪn `ˏfɪlm | evribɒdi sɔː ðə seɪm `θɪŋ. ɒn ˈreɪdiəʊ | ðeɪ ˎdɪdnt.