Monday 19 December 2016

Happy Xmas to all of you!


  |twɒz ðə ˈnaɪt bɪfɔː ˈkrɪsməs | wen ˈɔːl θruː ðə ˈhaʊs |
| nɒt ə ˈkriːtʃə wəz ˈstɜːrɪŋ | nɒt ˈiːvn̩ ə ˈmaʊs |
| ðə ˈstɒkɪŋz wə ˈhʌŋ | baɪ ðə ˈtʃɪmni wɪð ˈkɛː |
| ɪn ˈhəʊps ðət seɪnt ˈnɪkələs | ˈsuːn wʊd bi ˈðɛː|

| ðə ˈtʃɪldrən wə ˈnesl̩d | ɔːl ˈsnʌɡ ɪn ðe
ə ˈbedz |
| waɪl ˈvɪʒn̩z əv ˈʃʊɡəplʌmz | ˈdɑːnst ɪn ð
eə ˈhedz |
| ən ˈmɑːmər ɪn ə ˈkɜːtʃɪf | ənd ˈaɪ ɪn maɪ ˈkæp |
| həd ˈdʒʌst setl̩d ˈdaʊn | fər ə ˈlɒŋ wɪntəz ˈnæp |

Monday 5 September 2016

phonetic puzzle

Find a word ending in <th> in which the digraph is not pronounced as /θ/.

If you need a hint, lemme know!

Update: My apologies! I forgot to add the /ð/. The word must not end in /ð, θ/. 

Update 2: If you've ever owned an elephant, you will be familiar with the word (and you'd better be!).

Tuesday 23 August 2016

pun for fun - #2

Does this pun work for you?

Why is Henry’s wife covered in tooth marks?
-- Because he’s Tudor.

(credit: Adele Cliff)

Saturday 20 August 2016

Do know what thou sayest - #3

credit: Japan Trend Shop
This is an easy one:

What is a beaker used for in a _____?

Saturday 6 August 2016

Do know what thou sayest - #2

Another sentence to be read aloud is this one:

"He must be washed in the blood of the _____."

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Do know what thou sayest - #1

In the final orals my students had to pronounce various sentences in English. One of the more frequent mispronunciations lends itself to a rebus - well, almost:

"The moon was hidden behind a _____ of clouds."

Can you guess what the correct missing word is?

Sunday 31 July 2016

Transcriptions can be embarrassing!

This blog entry contains a word which some readers may find upsetting!

The transcription text in one of the final written tests this term contained the sentence:"[...] you can't talk without intonation [...]". Some of my young professionals transcribed it like this: /ju kʌnt tɔːk wɪðaʊt ɪntəneɪʃən/. Ahem!

Monday 25 July 2016

intrusive r but no linking r

John Wells spotted an interesting combination of using an intrusive r with avoiding a linking r. This nice example was to be heard in a presentation by Mark Tully on the 24th of July, 2016 on BBC Radio 4 in the weekly series Something Understood. Here are Tully's words:

Is the wind one of the wonders of nature which connect us to God, which so overawe us that we lose our self-awareness and experience the transcendent?
[ɪz ðə wɪnd wʌn əv ðə wʌndəz əv neɪʧə wɪʧ kənekt ʌs tə gɒd wɪʧ səʊ ʔəʊvəʔɔːr ʌs ðt wi luːz ɑː selfəwɛːnəs ənd ɪkspɪərɪəns ðə trænsendənt]
Listen particularly to the highlighted section.
Sir Mark is presently the regular presenter of the weekly programme mentioned above.

Friday 22 July 2016

from an oral exam

In an oral exam in English literature a student of ours was asked several questions about Anne Brontë's novel Agnes Grey. The (German) candidate described the desire of Agnes to become a governess by citing this sentence from the novel:
To train the tender plants, and watch their /bʌts/ unfolding day by day.

Anne Brontë

Saturday 28 May 2016

What are [ˈtuːt̬ərz]?

Do you know what triple homophones are? Here's an example: you - yew - ewe.
Another one is [ˈtuːt̬ərz], which does not work in General British however.

credit: Stephan Pastis

Sunday 17 April 2016

Ze trip to Panama

The German Wikipedia dictionary has a new article on the so-called Panama Papers. The transcription of the compound is given as [ˈpanaˌmaː ˈpeɪpəʳz]. If it is intended to reflect the German pronunciation, there are a few inaccuracies in it:
credit: Amazon/Beltz

  • Panama (country or city) is regularly pronounced /'panama/ in German with a (usually) short final vowel and no secondary stress according to DUDEN;
  • Papers is a bit more varied in its pronunciation because Germans either adapt it to their native phonology and say ['pe:pɐs] or try to pronounce it the English way and produce a diphthong in the first syllable and/or use an r-coloured schwa in the second syllable if they prefer a GA-like accent. They may stick to a final /s/ as is usual in German or use the lenis variant;
  • as a compound I would definitely not assign Papers another primary stress.

Thursday 31 March 2016

Sunday 20 March 2016

/r/ in preconsonantal positions in GB

Do you know John Maidment's SID? If not, take a look at it here; it's highly recommendable! Once you're there, click the letter R and then the headword rhotic. The last but one sentence is the one that made me write this short blog. I had never before questioned the claim that in General British as an accent of low rhoticity (or non-rhotic accent as some prefer to call it) the letter <r> is never pronounced in a preconsonantal position, e.g. in harm, form, torture. John draws our attention to one of the admittedly rare exceptions - ferrule, which is pronounced /ˈferuːl/ or /ˈferjuːl/. Are there any other words?
Here's a short list:
  • erudite, erudition
  • garrulous, garrulity
  • purulent, purulence
  • querulous, querulousness
  • sporule
  • virulent, virulence
And this is what ferrules look like:

Saturday 20 February 2016

weakform-based pun

Here's a pun which 'relies' on a weakform pronunciation.

credit: John C. Wells
My thanks go to John Wells for spotting this.

Friday 5 February 2016

Eau d'Ear

credit: Hancock McDonald

Sunday 3 January 2016

New Page

I'd like to draw your attention to a new page I've added. It's to be found on the right-hand side of my blog.In the long run this page will replace six separate blog postings in January of 2015.