Friday 6 April 2012

Geoff Lindsey's Listening Quizzzz - no. 2

S12: "And of course, then I start working with somebody who can, you know, a repetiteur, hopefully someone ...". What I said about (Ambroise) Thomas applies - cum grano salis - to répétiteur as well. Hadn't I known this word, I wouldn't've recognised it. So, the two words are 'unfair' as regards their inclusion in a listening test geared to a non-specialist public. As to the pronunciation of this French loan, we must distinguish between those Americans who have a fair to good command of French (the acclaimed baritone Hampson must have learned both French and Italian or else he couldn't have embarked on such a career) and those who simply muddle through.

Knowing French one can either pronounce it 'the French way' and say /ʁepetitœːʁ/ or - and this is how Hampson chooses to pronounce it - give it an American English tinge. I write 'tinge' because it's not completely americanised. Listen to the final r-sound, which is a uvular fricative /ʁ/. But the vowel quality is non-French, nor is the initial r-sound..

Geoff writes: "Americans are relatively variable with the French ending -eur;" Indeed, they are, but so are Brits. The proof is in the listing!

amateur | ˈæmətə, ˈæmətʃʊə, -tʃə, -tjʊə; ˌæm ə ˈtɜː | ˈæmətʃʊr, -ətər, -ətjʊr
chauffeur | ˈʃəʊfə, ʃəʊˈfɜː, ʃə- | ʃoʊˈfɝː

coiffeur | kwɑːˈfɜː, kwɒ-, kwæ-, kwʌ- | kwɑːˈfɝː, kwɒ-, kwæ-, kwʌ-

colporteur | ˌkɒl pɔːˈtɜː, ˌkəʊl-; ˈkɒlˌpɔːtə, ˈkəʊl-, ˌ•ˈ•• | ˌkɑːl pɔːr ˈtɝː, -poʊr-; ˈkɑːlˌpɔːrt̬ ər, -ˌpoʊrt̬-

connoisseur | ˌkɒnəˈsɜː, -ɪ- | ˌkɑːnəˈsɝː, -ˈsʊər

entrepreneur | ˌɒntrəprəˈnɜː, ˌɒ̃tr-, -preˈ•, -ˈnjʊə | ˌɑːntrəprəˈnɝː, -pəˈ•, -ˈnʊər

grandeur | ˈɡrændʒə, ˈɡrændjʊə, ˈɡrɒ̃-, -djə |  ˈɡrændʒər, -ʊr

liqueur | lɪˈkjʊə, lə-, -ˈkjɔː, -ˈkjɜː | -ˈkɝː, -ˈkjʊr

raconteur | ˌrækɒnˈtɜː | -ɑːnˈtɝː, -ən-

répétiteur | riˌpetɪˈtɜː, rə-, -ˌ•ə-; ˌrepətiːˈ• | ˌreɪpeɪtɪˈtɝː, ˌ•pet-

saboteur | sæbəˈtɜː, ˈ••• | -ˈtɝː, -ˈtʊər

voyeur | (ˌ)vwaɪˈɜː, (ˌ)vɔɪ-; (ˌ)vwɑːˈjɜː; ˈvɔɪə, ˈvwɔɪ- | vwɑːˈjɝː

S14: Jack Windsor Lewis quite rightly points to the fact that medial /j/ in words like carrying, marrying etc. may be dropped by both GB and GA speakers. Here are a few examples of Brits saying 'long-playing, dying, tying, staying power':

sound clips taken from LPD3

S15: "This is not about lyric singing, this is about the declamation of a text." It's absolutely normal to voice the /s/ of the word this in a voiced environment and a relaxed speech style, as Hampson does at the very beginning of this sentence: /ðɪzɪz/. When he uses the pronoun a 2nd time, however, he says: /ðɪsɪz/. Native speakers are inconsistent at times without even noticing it! 

S16: "[...] "'n' it would be living life, moral or possible."

Geoff claims that the sentence snippet starts with 'that'. I'm afraid that I'm not convinced. Listen:
What I hear is /n̩ɪtwʊdbiː/ = "and it would be".

S23: "
The absolute nub of solving any production of Macbeth." It's a pity, Geoff doesn't draw attention to the 'weak-form'-pronunciation of absolute, which sounds something like [ˈæpsl̩ʷ]. Advanced learners of English should be prepared to encounter this variant. 

S25: "... realizing the futility of his life". Two things are worth being commented on. First, Hampson says /ði/ despite the consonantal beginning of futility and despite there being no pause in between the definite article and the noun. Second, he does not flap the second /t/ in futility

  • Don't worry if you didn't recognise words like repetiteur, Thomas, nub or similar words, if they are/were unknown to you. You shouldn't worry, because if the task is one of listening comprehension (and not one of world knowledge), such words should not be used.
  • Even for NSs it is at times very difficult if not impossible to understand reduced, elided words or phrases WITHOUT the cotext or context as a cue.
Here's an example:

Try to hear what's being said.


  1. S14
    Nice examples. The Cambridge Adv Lnrs Dict has two clear speakers saying 'card-carrying-member' clearly with -/rɪŋ/. This makes a satisfactory form for imitation in my opinion coz I regard this pron as the usual one.
    S15 I dont hear /z/ in the first 'this' which may have ambiguous value there — it begins with stop [d̪] not fricative [ð].
    S16 I agree it begins with 'and' but I dont hear the /n/ as syllabic.
    S25 Agreed again. /ӕp-/ is now the usual first syllable. I hear the second as [-sʊ/ɘt̚] with the /t/ un-releast.

    1. S15: I've listened to the 1st 'this' again and I agree that the initial C can be interpreted as a plosive. I still hear a voiced /z/ though.
      S16: I wouldn't want to start a row over the syllabicity or non-syllabicity of the initial /n/.
      JWL's S25 is actually S23.