Sunday 29 March 2015

voice-over speaker on Mrs Bach

I recently watched the film Written by Mrs Bach broadcast by BBC Four. Amongst the academics who were interviewed on the issue of whether Anna Magdalena Bach could have been the composer of several pieces generally attributed to Johann Sebastian, there were two German specialists on Bach. They made their comments in German and accordingly had to be translated. Listen to this extract of the voice-over speaker and tell me if, like me, something strikes you as odd in her enunciation.

Monday 9 March 2015

Some typical pronunciation mistakes by (my) students learning English

Students in my phonetics classes may choose between General American and General British pronunciation (native speakers of English are exempt).

Here are some more or less frequent mistakes which popped up in this semester's viva voces:
  1. word-final fortissification (e.g. bag -> back)
  2. the TRAP vowel is replaced by the DRESS vowel
  3. the word ending <-ction> is pronounced /-kʧən/
  4. /v/ and /w/ are mixed up
  5. word-initial /br, bl, dr, gr, gl, ʤ/ are replaced by /pr, pl, tr, kr, kl, ʧ/
  6. one man, but two /mən/ or /mɪn/
  7. he was /bjurɪd, bərɪd, bʌrɪd/ in a /tɒm(b)/
  8. determined may materialise as /'detəmaɪnd, dɪ'tɜːmaɪnd, 'diːtəmaɪnd/
  9. /dɪs'mɪʃəl/
  10. sentence-final hotel or unfair are stressed  /'həʊtəl/ and /'ʌnfeə/.
Students who claim to speak General British frequently pronounce got as /gɑt, gat/.
For some the phrase Edith's birthday poses serious problems.