Wednesday 29 October 2014


I wrote a blog post on smoothing here and here. I'd like to add another post on this topic. The BBC presenter Shari Vahl on the 28th of this month in the BBC Radio 4 programme You & Yours said:

Shari Vahl (credit: RadioTimes)
In 2015 the Care Act will merge health and social care in the biggest reform of its kind in sixty years.
Paul Carley believes he can hear a difference between the two versions of the word care. He writes (on Facebook):
The first 'care' has the [ɛə] variant (though not by any means the most extensive off-glide), the second has the [ɛː] variant.
I listend to the two words myself several times: I can convince myself to hear an offglide in the first version, but then after a while I am certain it's a monophthongal [ɛː] just like in the second version. This is not unusual if and when the differences (should they exist) are so minute and if it's a sound track most likely compressed in quality for the purposes of the internet.

Listen for yourselves (you're going to hear Care1 and care2 in a row, first at normal speed and then slowed down by 30 per cent):

Even slowing down the playback speed doesn't convince me thoroughly.
Next I looked at the spectrograms:
care1 (= Care Act)

Not much of a difference, is there?


  1. My first impression was that the two "cares" had the [ɛə] variant. Then it seemed to me that the second one was [ɛː] but only after listening to it while thinking of a monophthong – I'm tempted to resort to the phantom theory.

  2. Emilio, the first one is the one I'm not so sure about: The second formant has a bit of a fall at the end, but then the speakers voice goes down.

    1. I must say I'm a bit confused. I think I find both examples similar to this:

      and quite different from this:

  3. Stretching the topic a little bit--

    Between the traditional diphthong group [ɪə] and [ɛə] and the monophthong group [ɪ:] and [ɛ:], I think there's an intermediate "inglide" stage: [ɪᵻ~ɪɘ] and [ɛɐ~æɐ], i.e., gliding toward inner tongue positions without involving opening or closing that centering glides do. That, I think, is what we've hearing most often from British English speakers since the latter half of the last century, but then I'm only an EFL learner.

  4. I can't help feeling that the picture is of Winifred Robinson and not Shari Vahl. They seem to get a bit tangled up in Google image searches. Who was the actual speaker?