Monday, 16 November 2015

ackshly English

What is this post ackshly about? It's about the adverb actually.
It's not only an adverb but also a weakform word. The strongform pronunciation is usually /ˈækʧuəli/, or in a more traditional manner /ˈæktjuəli/.
To make your conversations in English sound more natural and relaxed, try some of these weakform variants:
  • /ˈækʧuli/, /ˈækʃuli/,
  • /ˈækʧəli/, /ˈækʃəli/,
  • /ˈækʧli/, /ˈækʃli/, /ˈækʃi/, /æʃli/.
 Here are a few sentences containing 'actually': Give them a try!
  1. It actually works.
  2. Prices have actually fallen. 
  3. She's actually glad about it.
  4. His story is actually true.
  5. D'you think ghosts actually exist?
  6. He actually believes his own crap.
  7. I've actually known him for quite a long time.
  8. It actually happened.
  9. You couldn't actually have seen him.
  10. I don't actually like whiskey.


  1. It is an interesting case of a weak form that can actually be accented. In track 43 of Wells' English Intonation, we can hear an actress reading the phrase "Oh, actually, I've already got a drink" twice. The second time, she doesn't only say |ˈæktʃli|, but also |ˈɔːɹdi| (maybe more r-colouring than |ɹ|) for "already".

  2. Mariano, thanks for drawing my attention to these examples. The term 'weakform' (in this sense and spelling going back to a proposal by Jack Windsor Lewis) is not intended to mean that such a word form is pronounced exclusively in a de-accented manner.

  3. This is an example of yod coalescence, formerly not RP and mooted as a typical sign of Estuary English in the 1990s in the aftermath of Rosewarne. Now I read it's accepted in RP. I recall that when I'd just got the hang of phonemics in the 1960s, I suggested actual/axial as a minimal pair for affricate v. fricative, After a long silence an RP voice boomed "that's not English".

  4. Actually, I think you wouldn't have to listen for too long before you came across /æʃli/.

  5. John, this is /æʃli/ a valuable comment!

  6. As an afterthought: In Robert Peston's blitzspeak the adverb may even mutate to /æʃi/.

  7. This discussion recalls the John Wells blog posting which is one of his choices included in his popular book Sounds Interesting where at §2.14 reductions in casual speech he gives the sequence [ˈðeə ju ˈɡəʊ, ˈðeə jə ˈɡəʊ, ˈðe jə ˈɡə, ˈe jə ˈɡə, e jə ˈɡə, e j ˈɡə].
    This reminds me of a friend who’s very given to reducing ‘anyway’ to [`enɪweɪ, `enəweɪ, `enəwe `enwe, `emwe, `ẽwe, `ewe, `əwe].

  8. Reminds me of an acquaintance who regularly produced 'something' as [sʌ̃ɪ̃].