Archive 2 of JWL Blog

Home

Readers who need explanations of any of the abbreviations used may find them at Section 1 of the Home Page.

RSS feed for this siteRSS Feed

21/02/2007W. H. Auden#020
10/02/2007Oxfd BBC Guide to Pronunciation Agen#019
08/02/2007Mystifying Phonetic Developments#018
07/02/2007Long Ears of Observing Speech#017
02/02/2007Prefixes ending in -i#016
31/01/2007The Pronunciation of Murcia#015
19/01/2007Accentual and Tonetic Matters#014
14/01/2007Questions Regarding Question#013
12/01/2007Weakform Matters#012
03/01/2007HappYland Revisited etc#011

Blog 020

The 21st of February 2007

W. H. Auden


Today is the centenary of the birth of one of the most famous poets writing in English of the last century   

W. H. Auden / 'dʌblju  'eɪʧ  ˎɔːdn/  

   Here  is a  transcription of  a typical  poem of his    / ði 'ʌn'nəʊn ˎsɪtɪzn /

hi wz 'faʊnd baɪ ðə 'bjʊərəʊ əv stə'tɪstɪks tə 'biː|
wʌn əgenst huːm ðə wz ˋnəʊ əfɪʃl  km ˏ pleɪnt    |
ən 'ɔːl ðə rɪ'pɔːts | ɒn ɪz 'kɒndʌkt əˏgriː |
ðət ɪn ðə `mɒdn `sens əv ən `əʊlfӕʃn ˈwɜːd | ˈhiː wəz ə ˎseɪnt,|
fɔːr ɪn `ɛvriθɪŋ i ˈdɪd | hi ˈsɜːvd ðə ˈgreɪtə kəˎmjuːnəti.
ɪkˈsɛp fə ðə ˏwɔː | tɪl ðə ˈdeɪ hi rəˈtaɪəd |
hi ˈwɜːkt ɪn ə ˈfӕktri | ən ˈnɛvə gɒt ˎfaɪəd
bət ˈsӕtɪsfaɪd ɪz ɪmˎplɔɪəz, ˈfʌʤ ˈməʊtəz ˎɪŋk.
jɛt i `wɒzn ə ˋˏskӕb | ɔːr ˋɒd ɪn ɪz ˋˏvjuːz, |
fɔːr ɪz ˋjuːnjən rəˏpɔːts | ðət i ˋpeɪd ɪz ˋˏdjuːz |
(ɑː rəˋpɔːt ɒn ɪz ˏ juːnjən ˋʃəʊz ɪt wəz ˏsaʊnd | )
ən ɑː ˋsəʊʃl sɪˋkɒləʤi wɜːkəz ˈfaʊnd |
ðət i wz ˋpɒpjələ wɪð ɪz ˈmeɪts | ən ˈlaɪkt ə ˎdrɪŋk.
ðə ˋˏpres | ə knˈvɪnst | ðət i ˈbɔːt ə ˈpeɪpə | ˈɛvri ˎdeɪ
ən ðət ɪz riˋӕkʃnz | tu ədˈvɜːtɪsmənts | wə ˈnɔːml ɪn ˈɛvri ˎweɪ.
ˈpɒləsɪz teɪkn aʊt ɪn ɪz ˏneɪm | ˈpruːv | ðət i wəz ˈfʊli ɪnˏ ʃɔːd, |
ən ɪz ˈhelθkɑːd | ʃəʊz i wz ˋwʌns ɪn ˈhɒspɪdl | bət ˈleft ɪt ˎkjɔːd.
bəʊθ prəˈdjuːsə ˎriːsɜːʧ ӕn ˈhaɪgreɪd ˋlɪvɪŋ dɪˏklɛə |
ðət i wz ˈfʊli ˈsensəbl |tə ði əd`vӕntəʤɪz əv ði ɪn`stɔːlmənt ˏplӕn|
n hӕd `ɛvriθɪŋ `nesəsɛri | tə ðə ˈmɒdn ˎmӕn
ə ˏgrӕməfəʊn, | ə ˏreɪdiəʊ,|  ə ˈkɑːr ən frɪʤəˎdɛə.
ɑː ˋriːsɜːʧəz ɪntə `pʌblɪk ə`pɪnjən ə knˏtent |
ðət i ˈheld ðə ˈprɒpər əˈpɪnjənz | fə ðə ˈtaɪm əv ˎ jɜː;
wɛn ðɛə wz ˈpiːs | hi wz ˋfɔː piːs; wen ðɛə wz ˈwɔ | hi ˎwent.
hi wz ˏmӕrɪd | ən ӕdɪd ˈfaɪv ˈʧɪldrn tə ðə pɒpjəˎleɪʃn
wɪʧ ɑː ju`ʤenis ˏsez | wz ðə raɪt ˎnʌmbə | fər ə pɛərnt əv ˈhɪz ʤɛnəˎˏreɪʃn|
ən ɑː ˈtiːʧəz rəˏpɔːt |ðət i ˈnɛvər ɪntəˈfiəd wɪð ðɛər ˈeʤəˎkeɪʃn.
wəz i ˈfriː? wəz i ˈhӕpi? ðə ˈkwɛsʧənz əbˎsɜːd:
hӕd `ɛnəθɪŋ bɪn ˋˏrɒŋ |wi ʃd ˋˏsɜtni əv `hɜːd.

Blog 019

The 10th of February 2007

Oxfd BBC Guide to Pronunciation Agen

John Wells's blog of Tuesday 30 January 2007 commenting on the new Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation brought forth from me a defence of its authors quoting their remark Our general aim is to recommend pronunciations that are close as possible to the native language in question, but modified slightly so that they still flow naturally in an English broadcast. Now his further blog of today suggests that he didnt see or has forgotten my comment because he says Some entries are just wrong. Taranto ought to have the stress not on the -ran- but on the Ta-, at least in Italian. However, what they give for Taranto /ta`rantəʊ/ is not offered in OBG(P) as a transcription of Italian. They try to make it clear when they are transcribing a foreign language by enclosing the symbols in square brackets. The transcription John refers to is within the phonemic slants they use for representing recommended English forms. It is rather easy to forget this when, as often happens, only one phonetic transcription follows the clumsy re-spellings given first at each entry.

     In LPD he clearly accepts as current English usage the kind of un-Italian stressing in question for Taranto and, more realistically than OBG(P), shows the first syllable as schwa. Lepanto gets similar treatment from both books. BrindisiMedici and Modena get much the same treatment in the two books except that OBG(P) tends to be more judgmental.
   
    It is one of the slightly confusing features of OBG(P) that they make prominent use of the term "Established Anglicisation" for some of their items but fail to use this (rather useless) expression for very large numbers of others to which it would be equally applicable. Another such feature is the fact that they offer original-language transcriptions of some of the very numerous foreign expressions listed on no discernible principle of selection and certainly not as often as one would like. This is all the more disappointing because when they do offer them they, on the whole, are impressively well done.

    Another of John's comments is One of the authors inclines strongly to /ə/ in weak syllables, even going so far as to represent the last syllable of verbiage as /-ədʒ/; but the other prefers /ɪ/, going for a very conservative /-ɪti/ in solemnity, where most people nowadays surely have /-əti/. That version of verbiage is not given in LPD even with the "§" excluding it from General British usage. I can't recall hearing anything quite like it at all. It suggests to me some sub-equatorial variety of English. The version of potager given is a little less suspect but schwa is not what one would have expected from "BBC English" either in unwanted and woebegone; nor in accursed, cursed and blessed – this last in the Accents panel at p. 3 but not at the alphabetic entry for the word. If Alec Guinness himself sanctioned schwa in his unstressed syllable it was peculiar of him. The reverse surprisingly conservative use of /ɪ/ rather than /ə/ noted by John in solemnity crops up again in acuity, annihilate, Catiline, catholicism, daiquiri and velocity.
I've amended the foregoing slightly after hearing from And Rosta of the University of Central Lancashire who suspects, no doubt with good reason, that I have an exaggerated impression of the rarity of the Weak Vowel Merger (as Wells calls it) in England.


Blog 018

The 8th of February 2007

Mystifying Phonetic Developments

In one of my many spells of insomnia there came into my mind Linda Shockey's paragraph in her Sound Patterns of Spoken English (Blackwell 2003) titled Icons in which she dealt with expressions which, used repeatedly, reduce in ways which are extreme and not normally predicted by ordinary phonetic processes of development. As she says, these are often locale-specific: the name of a town or an area will reduce dramatically simply because it is used so frequently. She ends the paragraph with the two examples that always spring to my mind, too, as about as mysterious in their phonetic development as any that one can think of viz /`ʧʌmli/ as Cholmondeley and /`fænʃɔː/ as Featherstonehaugh.

    They were both originally placenames of Anglo-Saxon origin appearing in the Domesday Book but are today most widely known as surnames. They are also spelt by some families less intimidatingly as Chumley (also Cholmeley and Chumbly) and Fanshawe.

    For Cholmondeley the original elements have no doubt been the Anglo-Saxon personal name Ceolmund and the placename element leah (meaning grove and various other things). The phonetic route 1086 Calmundelei > 1287 Chelmundeleg > [ʧʊlmʊndlei > ʧʊməndlei > ʧʊmdlei > ʧʊmlei > ʧʌmli] doesn't seem at all a difficult one to accept especially bearing in mind how very often close back rounded vowels are found represented by o in medieval and later MSS .

    For Featherstonehaugh the phonetic route is complicated by the intrusion, if I am right, of a non-phonetically-developed alteration induced by misprision of the spelling. The Anglo-Saxon elements of which the word was composed were the unrecorded but reliably inferable [feðerstɑːn] (to indicate a cromlech of three upright stone pillars capped by a headstone) and halh meaning a remote place, nook or corner etc. (OE feoðer meant four and had nothing to do with avian feathers.)

    Thus the phonetic sequence was something like [feðerstɑːnhalx > fæðrstənhɒlx > faðrsnhɒl > faðnshɔ > fans.hɔ] at which point the spelling Fans-haw was misinterpreted into Fan-shaw /`fænʃɔː/ in the way Lewis-ham became Lewi-sham, Eyns-ham became Eyn-sham, Gres-ham became Gre-sham, Walt-ham became Wal-tham and numerous other names have been similarly affected. Some people even say Felpham with /f/ for the ph.

    My successive transcriptions of how the forms could have developed are for convenience "speeded up" rather than trying to suggest each small change at the rate it is most likely to have happened. The 1236 form recorded as Fetherstanhishalu may also be significant as showing another route indicating the possible eventual coming together of [ns] and [hɔ]. Data from Eilert Ekwall The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names OUP 1960.

Wd anyone like to suggest any other puzzling cases of such phonetic development?

Blog 017

The 7th of February 2007

Long Ears of Observing Speech

If you re'd John Wells's blog of 12th June last year you may remember that, quoting an email I'd copied to him when I was sending it to the BBC Radio "Today" programme, he referred to me as listening to the radio news [and] hearing a disturbing account of police discrimination against less well-to-do homes. Apparently, a house in Forest Gate was raided by anti-/ˈterəst/ forces. The many British people who live in terraced houses (for Americans, that’s row houses) rather than in semis or detached houses might rightly feel aggrieved. (In case you haven’t caught up, this was meant to be anti-terrorist.)  I sent that email to the Beeb not in any serious criticism but amusedly pointing out that the not entirely graceful wording had produced a mildly comic ambiguity on account of the two words terraced and terrorist having (perfectly normal) identical pronunciations. I did notice, however, that when the item was repeated later the wording had been modified.

Now in the past week I've been amused by a similar case of co-incidence that wd be no puzzle to the phonetically sophisticated listener. Radio 4 have been trailing the first of 30 programmes on The Making of Modern Medicine and have been referring, as an example of the contents of that programme, to how the modern stethoscope was invented in rudimentary fashion by a medical man who found he could hear a patient's heartbeats much louder and clearer when he hit on the idea of making a tube from paper (or whatever) and putting one end of it to his patient's chest and the other to his ear. What amused me was that, immediately after that, the reader finished the trail by adding that the programmes would be "exploring more than 2,000 ears of Western medicine ".

Of course that was not what his script said but the observant listener will perhaps know that, as the "preferred" pronunciation of year has with recent generations become not / jɜː / as it was shown in the Jones/Gimson EPD from 1917 to 1989, but / jɪə /, people can be very commonly heard to use in fluent speech the elided form / ɪə / particularly in phrases like last year, this year and next year.

The words ear and year have in fact in some varieties of English speech become identical with each other and even at the same time with hear. For example in parts of South Wales, including where I was brought up and aitches were in fairly short supply, one could hear sophisticated folks quoting people less so as saying "He that hath yurs to yur, let him yur" (St Mark's Gospel 4:9).

The great Oxford Dictionary has donkey's or donkeys' years (occas. ears, with punning allusion to the length of a donkey's ears and to the vulgar pronunciation of ears as years) colloq., a very long time.

I might point out to anyone who shares my amusement with such items my remark at the EFL/Weakforms /and section of this website my comment on the admirable long-serving BBC Radio 4 newsreader who startled me the other day when she seemed to refer to hospital "A and D departments". My puzzlement was dispelled when I realised that she was talking about "Accident and Emergency Departments" but, in the intended interests of clarity no doubt, employed the final /d/ possible with the word and which few people would've used in such a situation.

At Accents of English pp 602/3 Wells mentions a BBC announcer whose Australian influences meant that he said the Queen chattered with factory workers (meaning chatted) and referred to a hospital lighting problem that required the use of tortures (ie torches).

Blog 016

The 2nd of February 2007

Prefixes ending in -i

In his blog of Monday 29 January 2007 John Wells says

The next time I do a revision of LPD I am thinking of changing the entries for words with the unstressed prefixes be-, de-, pre-, re-.  At present we have entries like these:  becalm bɪ ˈkɑːm bə-, §biː-  predict prɪ ˈdɪkt prə-, §priː-

and ends by asking:    What do you think about the proposed change?

I think it'd be unsuitable for the simple reason that it'd be in danger of misleading users of the LPD into presuming that he thinks a change in acceptability has occurred. He was perfectly right to suggest by his use of the § warning symbol that a pronunciation like /priːˈkluːd/ is not normal General British usage.  He'd have to re-define his use of the / i / symbol to accommodate such a procedure.

See my blog of 3 Jan 07 for my rejection of the way "neutralisation" is applied to the (final) happY vowel. At p. 511 of the LPD, of the happy vowel, it says that it is traditionally identified with ɪ [the sit vowel]. But in fact some speakers use ɪ, some use iː, some use something intermediate or indeterminate, and some fluctuate between the two possibilities. Modern pronunciation dictionaries use the symbol i, which reflects this.


I think this is properly to be called "variation" not "neutralisation" which is the term I shd apply to the value of a single possible articulation.

Blog 015

The 31st of January 2007

The Pronunciation of Murcia

John Wells's blog of Tuesday 30 January 2007 commenting on the way the new Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation gives just /ˈmʊəθiə/ as their only pronunciation for the city and region of southeastern Spain Murcia, continues (I’ve converted the book’s tiresome respelling and transcription into my usual system.) Right about the consonants, wrong about the stressed vowel... We might well think that it would be preferable for English people to anglicize Spanish [ur] to /ʊə/. But they don’t, and it’s wrong to pretend that they do.

    While completely sympathising with this reaction, I think it fair to point out that this book, whether its guidance is sound or not, does say Our general aim is to recommend pronunciations that are close as possible to the native language in question, but modified slightly so that they still flow naturally in an English broadcast. This remark thus shows a different purpose from that of the LPD, EPD etc which valuably attempt to record facts about the speech essentially of relatively sophisticated native speakers of English.
    
    For my part, having lectured at the University of Murcia for what amounts in all to about four months, I can't bring myself to refer to it with the English long schwa vowel and I never noticed any of my Spanish-native-speaker colleagues seeming to feel that they needed to adapt their own pronunciation of the name in the direction of such a vowel in the way I sh'd've expected them for example to adapt the version they used in speaking in English of one of the very well known Spanish cities.
   
    Incidentally, I and my colleague Bev Collins were both rather struck by the fact that theta [θ] for 'c' in Murcia seemed, at least as observed by us only very unsystematically, to be perfectly common in the Murcia area rather than the [s] which we expected knowing it to be the ordinary usage to the west in Andalucia.

Blog 014

The 19th of January 2007

Accentual and Tonetic Matters

Tamikazu Date asks:
Would English people ever accent the second syllable of 'sorry' under some pragmatic circumstances?
I seem to have heard it recently in one of the episodes of the old American sit-com "Growing Pains"
    There are two possible ways of explaining the intentions of the speaker who says or appears to say Sor`ry. I say "appears to say" because there is the possibility that the speaker is employing for the sake of animation an extravagantly unusual stressing of the word in which they perceive their use of the stress as applied deliberately and anomalously treating a normally unaccentable syllable as if it were accentable. For more on this topic look at Section 10 of my website stuff on Accentuation (under 'Intonation and Prosody'). An example I didn't give there was `Je``sus which could perhaps be offensive to some people but is not uncommon among the ungodly.
    Both this and the second analysis can be said to be the phonological equivalent of slang.

The second interpretation is to regard the speaker as employing a relatively unusual tone —“ what one may call a complex tone of the rising-falling type viz Climb-Fall (ˊˋSorry) or Rise-Fall (ˏˋSorry) with possibly the added prosodic feature of 'drawling' on at least the second element. (See this website's second item under 'Intonation and Prosody' for explanation of the tone symbols.) Tones like the Slump-Fall or Fall-Fall are almost non-existent in English but are characteristic of Norwegian and Swedish. English examples would be ˎRa`ther or `Ra`ther. Like `Ra`ˏther they seem a bit old-fashioned and perhaps posh now but are not unknown in England.

I recently heard the famous Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter interviewed on BBC Radio 3 and wasn't very surprised that her English was so perfect that I doubted if many people hearing her and not knowing who she was would even realise that she wasn't a native speaker of English. However, she quite startled me at one point when she made the sort of unusual slip, as you might call it, of referring to her compatriot, the famous mid-twentieth-century tenor Jussi Bjoerling, not as 'Jussi `Bjoerling but as apparently 'Jussi `Bjoer`ling, giving him the tonetic treatment he would have had had she been speaking Swedish. This was the only occasion on which I remember hearing such a slip from a Swede or other Scandinavian in spite of my having lived for some years in Scandinavia. It immediately reminded me of my approving comment, in my article on 'The Teaching of English Intonation' (see this website's third item under 'Intonation and Prosody' Section 15), on Daniel Jones's removal from later editions of his Outline of English Phonetics of his earlier remark about just such possible a Swedish error of intonation in speaking English — which I felt so rarely occurred that it wasn't worth including.     



Blog 013

The 14th of January 2007

Questions Regarding Question

I’ve recently received from Professor Kensuke Nanjo of St Andrew’s University in Japan a question about the pronunciation of the word "question".
" You mention in your blog that "there can be no doubt that many have /ʃʃ/ instead of /stʃ/ in the very common word question and I think many may have a weakform of that word with a single /ʃ/." (November 10, 2006) As you may know, Daniel Jones mentions this and says the pronunciation with /ʃʃ/ is a "careless pronunciation" (Section 405 of the Fourth Edition of the Pronunciation of English, 1963). So, do you think it is still a careless pronunciation today or just a common pronunciation which can be recommended to EFL learners? Also, is the weakform of this noun (content word) with a single /ʃ/ used only in fast or very casual speech?”

    Daniel Jones was in his late seventies when he made the  comments of Section 405 of the Fourth Edition of the Pronunciation of English. I don't think /kweʃʃn/ is a reprehensibly "careless" pronunciation today only an occasional pronunciation which I shd NOT recommend to EFL learners but which I shd not wish to condemn if used in ordinary conversation.

     The whole of the Jones paragraph Kensuke quoted was out-of-date even when he wrote it. His personal speech was quite Victorian in some respects. When I visited him at his home at Gerrard's Cross in Buckinghamshire he remarked to me that he had never given up his usual pronunciation of that name in which he rhymed with cross with horse in very Victorian fashion. He can be heard in BBC recordings saying /`grædjuəli/ which died out early in the last century. However, he rather went  back on what he said in §405 when he wrote §406; and he says in the Preface "I no longer feel disposed ... to condemn [any particular forms of pronunciation]".

    "Is the weakform of this noun (content word) with [a single esh] /ʃ/ used only in fast or very casual speech?" – I don't think many people wd have a climax stress even on /`kweʃʃn/ – and probably nobody on /`kweʃn/ – tho they cd easily occur under what I've called "rhythmic pressure" eg hurried over for some reason. I shd say the best target forms for this word for EFL users wd be / `kweʃʧən/ or /`kwesʧən/. [The original version of this blog has been amended.]


Blog 012

The 12th of January 2007

Weakform Matters

At the John Wells blog of 24 May 2006 the mistranscription of then with schwa inste'd of /e/ was quoted followed by the aside "(this word has no weak form)". This was a reasonable prohibition for student transcribers for general purposes and certainly exactly applicable to the two sentence-final occurrences of then in the passage for transcription that was under discussion but it wasnt strictly accurate in my experience.

    Although it’s true that none of the current editions of the major pronouncing dictionaries or textbooks records then as having a weakform, in fact many people do occasionally use a form with schwa. Nevertheless, as I cautioned in my Guide to English Pronunciation (1969 p.45) at the section Weakforms to be Avoided, the mere existence of a weakform ... should not be taken as sanction to use it. Many of them are used only in severely limited circumstances ... such as those of in, on, then, or, said, so, you, your and you’re.    

    The use of /jə/ for you by a British speaker can easily sound rough, casual or contemptuous so much so that it could well give offence used utterance-finally eg in I told you as /aɪ `təʊld jə/. By contrast, failure to use /jə/ for your or even for you’re may on occasion eg in You’re on your own well strike some people as slightly formal if not spoken as /jər 'ɒn jər `əʊn/. The weakform of then with schwa I can never remember hearing sentence finally but initially it doesn’t sound at all unusual to me. In fact the sentence Then I’ll go then, then could easily occur with schwa in the first of the "thens". (The first and last of them mean "in that case", the other "at that time".)
 
    Some students, in their enthusiasm to employ weakforms, tend to invent ones that are not normally used by GA or GB speakers. In Britain at least, although /ɑ:l/ for I’ll will pass unnoticed —“ and is indeed probably more usual than /aɪl/ —“ but /ɑ:m/ for I’m at normal speeds of delivery and accented may sound quite strange or suggest a US Southern or Afro-American accent. General American usage has no weakforms for Saint or Sir. In church Let’s pray instead of let us /əs/ pray might well sound far too casual. See my article on this website Section 4.7 Weakform Words & Contractions for Advanced EFL Users.

Blog 011

The 3rd of January 2007

HappYland Revisited etc

At my blog of the 8th of November last year I said I'd like to come back to the topic of the so-called "neutralised/non-phonemic" vowel symbols [i] and [u]. I mentioned my article 'HappYland Reconnoitred' (see this homepage Section 3 English Language 2) which offered my reasons for not being at all happy with the Wells (1982:257) remark that the happy (final) vowel was "between the seventeenth century and 1950 regularly analysed by phoneticians as [ɪ]". I shd say that the truth was that they generally regarded that vowel as /iː/ so that it was not the case that, what had previously been a regionalism suddenly became respectable. Clear evidence for the wide use of /-ɪ/ only appears well into the 19th century.

    As to the phonological analysis involved, having always considered myself to be aiming at an [i] quality for the happy vowel, I see no point in not assigning my target vowel to my /iː/ phoneme while fully acknowledging that I quite often in less than deliberate speech produce the realisation [ɪ] in various segmental and rhythmic contexts. I am equally capable of producing [u] when my target is /əʊ/ in eg follow or [e] for the latter vowel in essay. So are plenty of other people but it's pretty unusual for any lexicographer to advocate a neutralisation symbol for such words. I do, again like most people, feel there's a phonological difference between eg the final vowels of pedigree and cavalry but the best practical-cum-theoretical way to view them seems to me to be as involving a phonological distinction that resides in a rhythmical contrast without excluding either of them from the phoneme /iː/. A distinct weak-vowel system if you like.

    What has become a problem for pronunciation lexicographers is that, having given recognition to the weak /i/ of happy etc, they could hardly refuse to recognise the parallel weak /u/ of thankyou for which / `θæŋkju:/ if fully strong must surely sound unnaturally deliberate delivery or a bit of a regionalism. But so far they've done so very grudgingly:both the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary and the (Jones, Roach et al.) English Pronouncing Dictionary give /-u/ for the name of the letter w only in second position. Yet `double u and `w make a quite feasible minimal pair of sorts. For the noun thank(-)you LPD gives only /-u:/ while EPD gives only /-u/. They both agree on recognising (only as a subvariant) /-u/ as a possibility in continue. Only LPD shows /-u/ as possible for value. There are scores if not hundreds of other words that are obviously entitled to equivalent treatment including eg Andrew, avenue, cuckoo, curfew, guru, Hebrew, issue, impromptu, jujitsu, Lulu, menu, nephew, rescue, residue, sinew, statue, tissue,venue, virtue, Zulu etc. And that's only to cite open syllables but there's no suggestion that the allowed examples can't have /-u-/ in their plurals and past inflections. And if continued why not eg prelude? And also /-u-/ in bedroom, costume, granule, vacuum, volume and so on? Similarly, it was an unremarked but completely justified, indeed happy, innovation in the first edition of LPD to have broken away from tradition by showing medial weak /-u-/ where the next sound was a vowel instead of the Jones and Gimson practice of always showing medial /-ʊ-/ in such situations as eg in a word like graduate etc. However, though some speakers may feel /ʊ/ to be their target value, as clearly Wells does, when the medial sound in question precedes a consonant, I certainly don't identify it as my target as regards most such words and I wonder how many others share that feeling about words like accusation, acupuncture, adjutant, aluminium, ammunition, cellulite, erudite, communist, computation, educate, immunise, impudent, manufacture, resumé, tabulate and many others. With some of these I vacillate between /-u-/ and schwa. I notice with satisfaction that LPD also uses /-u-/ before a consonant at least in some items like educate, neutrality, stimulate, unite etc (unlike other Longman dictionaries apparently).

    See also Section 9 of the review of the Jones, Roach et al. English Pronouncing Dictionary in the Reviews section of this Website.

    What is my advice to EFL teachers who employ and teach phonemic transcription? Accept (and, if you like, use) /i/ wherever it's not obvious that a strong vowel is needed, as in the above examples. However, unlike the suffixes -less, -ness etc, the ending -ly when added to happy-type words in GB only permits their final -y to be schwa /ə/ or the sit vowel /ɪ/. 

BlogRoll