Wednesday 26 November 2014

Monday 24 November 2014

Ms Eleanor Maier (was 'uneasy listening') #4

Listen to the word smoking in this extract from Ms Maier's talk about the new verb to vape. She says:
[...] adopted both to circumvent smoking bans [...]

 In a narrow transcription the diphthong would look something like this: [ɛ̝ʉ]

Sunday 23 November 2014

Ms Eleanor Maier (was 'uneasy listening') #3

"Throughout 2014 electronic devices which have enabled people to inhale smokeless nicotine vapour have become increasingly widespread [...]"

Ms Maier uses the less frequent pronunciation /'iːlektrɒnɪk/ for electronic.

In the case of nicotine the schwa is voiceless and reduced to a very faint hissing sound between the aspirations of /k/ and /t/ (see rectangle):

The phrase have become is actually [hæv̥kʌm]:

Friday 21 November 2014

Uneasy listening #2

The very first word of Ms Maier's talk is this:

It sounds like [θræʊt], doesn't it? What I did next was to start with the first 30 ms of the word and then add 30 ms each time till the end of the word (30, 60, 90, ... 300, 330, 360 ms). Listen to this:

Here's the first word followed by the next one. Can you decode what she wants to say?

The problem of understanding this phrase (and many others in her speech) lies in the fact that she compresses a disyllabic word to a monosyllable. What may make things even more complicated is the fact that this compression happens at the very beginning of her speech when the listener's ears and brain have not become attuned to her dropping-one's-syllables style.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Uneasy listening

No, I'm not referring to the Finnish band HIM. It's rather about this lady's style of enunciation:

Ms Eleanor Maier - a senior editor of the OED and no doubt a lover of language - addresses a world-wide audience including many non-native speakers of British English. Has it never occurred to her or to the other OUP staff responsible for this video clip that this speech is difficult to understand, distracts listeners from the contents because they are forced to concentrate on guessing where all the syllables have gone that she dropped? You may judge me as being too harsh in my verdict, but I think she should take a few elocution lessons before she produces another video clip addressed to a world-wide audience.

I'm going to look into her enunciation in a later post.

I forgot to mention that it was Alex Rotatori who drew my attention to this clip. Sorry for my negligence!

Monday 17 November 2014

listening comprehension - top down or bottom up - #2

Sidney Wood - one of my blog followers - commented on my previous post on listening comprehension by saying that the extract sounds like [ɘˈləðə]. What follows is the section (highlighted in the waveform in dark grey) which for my ears corresponds to [ɘˈləðə]:

What you see below is the waveform of the snippet in my previous post:

The latter includes the verb 'have'.

Sunday 16 November 2014

ejectives again

On the 26th of December 2011 I wrote a blog post on ejectives in English. I've come across another sample recently. BBC Radio 4 announced an analysis of the impact of the Scottish referendum to be broadcast on the 18th of November 2014. In this announcement one could hear the voice of a lady (probably Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws) using the verb 'think' twice. The first version is the one with the ejective k-sound.

Saturday 15 November 2014

listening comprehension - top down or bottom up - #1

Try to understand this snippet (text is repeated once):

Here is the whole sentence:

Tuesday 11 November 2014

smoothing #2

"Investigators are trying to find ou what caused a serious fire in a cooling tower of a power station."1 This is a sentence read by Sarah Montague, BBC news presenter, on the 20th of October this year.

Listen to the sentence and concentrate on the words in red.

Sarah Montague (credit: BBC)

If you are an EFL learner, you might want to make a recording of your own version of this sentence. Then compare it with Ms Montague's and concentrate on the vowels in these three words. Does she pronounce fire as  /aɪə/ or /aə/ or /a:/? What about the other two words? Do YOU pronounce them with a diphthong plus schwa or even with a monophthong? Try to imitate the way she pronounces them. Needless to say that you do not have to pronounce these and similar words like that, but it's a nice exercise.

Besides: Can you pronounce the initial phrase "[i]bvestigators are trying to find out" at a similar speed? Try this as well.

1My thanks go to Paul Carley

Sunday 9 November 2014

picture = pitcher?

LPD 3 offers two pronunciations for picture, one of which however is marked with a special symbol indicating that though this variant pronunciation is very frequent it is not considered correct in GB/RP:
I've recently come across this 'yucky' pronunciation while I was listening to one of the instalments of the BBC Radio 4 series "Germany: Memories of a Nation". "One Nation under Goethe" was introduced by a female speaker who said:
Today he [= Neil MacGregor] is in Frankfurt and he has with him a picture of a young man.
BTW: EPD 18 makes no mention of this variant.