Archive 48 of JWL Blog


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

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30/07/2014From KIT to Schwa#480
19/07/2014Perceptions of Pitches#479
13/07/2014Consonant Duplications#478
02/07/2014A Bucketful of Phonemes#477
23/06/2014Beginning of Term PS 27#475
16/06/2014Beverley Collins 1938-2014#474
11/06/2014Welsh Place-Names#473
04/06/2014Scottish Place-Names concluded#472
30/05/2014The Holy Oral Method PS 26#471

Blog 480

The 30th of July 2014

From KIT to Schwa

A pervasive numerous change from 19th to 20th century English pronunciation was the steady onward march of the further weakening of weak non-word-final /ɪ/ to /ə/. A striking impression of its progress may be seen by comparing Daniel Jones’s quite Victorian ‘Received Pronunciation’ with some later twentieth-century revisions of his EPD ie English Pronouncing Dictionary (1917 to 1963) and especially with the outstanding later authority on British usages the John Wells LPD ie Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. A vivid example is supplied by the word which Jones showed in his 1917 EPD1 as /´indiˎvizi´biliti/. When we convert his original symbols into a more modern style of transcription we see /ˈɪndɪˈvɪzɪ`bɪlɪtɪ/. Of the seven KIT vowels of the Jones original representation of the word, we shall be concerned here with only the second, fourth and fifth which are the three unstressed or ‘weak’ non-word-final ones. Respectively they were originally (with a preceding consonant to help recognition) /dɪ, zɪ & lɪ/. In 1917 EPD1 gave for this word an alternant /zə/. In his EPD of 1956 he added a second alternant /-lə/ instead of /lɪ/. At my CPD ie Concise Pronouncing Dictionary of 1972 the sole version provided was /ˈɪndɪˈvɪzə`bɪlətɪ/. This was conveyed, for conciseness, by not according the word a separate listing but providing an entry for the suffix -ity which was given with the sole value of /-ətɪ/. This implied that /ɪ/ in the suffix -ity was by then considered to be possibly perceived as “slightly old-fashioned” (CPD p. xiv). Gimson, in his 1977 revision of EPD, kept the same Jonesian entry except for showing /-lətɪ/ as the norm and /lɪtɪ/ as “less common”. He retained Jones’s /-zə-/alternant. In 1990 in the first edition of his LPD ie Longman Pronouncing Dictionary Wells gave /ˈɪndɪˈvɪzə`bɪləti/ in complete agreement with my CPD as to the most usual versions of the three vowels under discussion. As alternants he added /-də-/ and /-lɪ-/. In the 1997 EPD 15th edition Roach et al gave /ˈɪndɪˈvɪzɪ`bɪləti/ restoring Jones’s /zɪ/ as norm and /zə/ and /lɪ/ as alternants. By its 18th edition of 2011, however, it was showing as the most usual pronunciation /ˈɪndɪˈvɪzə`bɪlətɪ/ thus concurring with LPD 1990 to 2008. For a comparison with American usages we may quote PDAE ie the Pronouncing Dictionary of American English by John S. Kenyon and Thomas A. Knott (1944) who gave /ˈɪndəˈvɪzə`bɪlətɪ/. Comparison with the Merriam-Webster dictionaries of the present generation shows agreement among them that such a judgment remains unchanged. This is in fact now the probable current norm also for General British speakers. (The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English of 2001 has not been comparable with the other sources we’ve quoted because it adopted and used for all three of our vowels a barred symbol which had earlier been used in PDAE, tho very sparingly, to indicate occurrence of either /ɪ/ or /ə/ non-committally as to relative frequency of the alternants.)

Turning to words with exclusively /ɪ/ in word-final closed syllables in EPD1, we find many items that in General British usage have either alternately or even predominantly /ə/ today are recorded as so in LPD3 of 2008. This is strikingly apparent regarding the diminutive suffix -let whose very large number of occurrences now verge on sounding old-fashioned or Conspicuous GB (see p.81 etc of Cruttenden's Gimson's Pronunciation of English 2014) if heard prominently as /-lɪt/. Something similar may be sed of the way the suffix -ness has been converted from /-nɪs/ to /-nəs/ with only the alternant /bɪznɪs/ of business now remaining a commonly heard one. (The Irish name Guinness, is only pronounced /`gɪnɪs/ by GB speakers. Its latter syllable is not the suffix dating from Old English.) Transfer to schwa has occurred to many words ending with -ate eg agate, curate, palate, pirate, senate, separate (adj), moderate (adj). Besides pallet which is listed in LPD as predominantly ending /-ət/, other words ending with -llet include bullet, gullet, mallet, mullet, pullet, skillet, wallet which are all listed only with alternant /-ət/ and comet, fillet, millet, pellet which are shown with no GB alternants. It will be noticed that the last three of these, along with pallet and skillet have, unlike most of the others, front vowels in their preceding syllables. Among other words with alternant schwas in LPD are crotchet, gadget, gibbet, pigeon, prophet, sonnet, turret. With rare complete reversal of the EPD1 entry, LPD gave cushion, pollen and sullen only as /`kʊʃ(ə)n, `pɒlən/ and /`sᴧlən/. Shown with predominant schwa (or schwa alternant with final syllabic consonant) were Allen, Ellen, Helen, kitchen, lichen, pigeon and woollen. For the great majority of disyllabic words in GB ending with -et its vowel is /ɪ/ eg bucket, budget, jacket, market, pocket, ticket. This is in marked contrast with most speakers of the rest of the English-speaking world especially Ireland, America, South Africa and Australia. So also are GB words ending -ace, -ice, -id, -it, -in, -ine and -ive eg furnace, menace, palace, surface, Wallace, apprentice, hospice, notice, novice, poultice, precipice, acid, Euclid, horrid, orchid, pallid, timid, vivid, bandit, biscuit, circuit, digit, edit, habit, limit, orbit, rabbit, cabin, doctrine, engine, feminine, genuine, heroin, insulin, napkin, vermin, active, native, motive, positive.  

This account has mainly delt with disyllabic words only. Longer words shown in EPD1 with weak internal syllables with historic /ɪ/ have largely converted it to (a commonly elidable) schwa eg animal, cabinet, enemy, family, geometry, policy, remedy, secrecy, villages. Altho there are a small minority of General British speakers who use schwa in the grammatical terminations -ed, and -es it can fairly be said that such speakers are markedly atypical. GB also doesnt have schwa alternants of the enclitic pronouns it or him. The suffix -ess (if not accented) on many words is now either /-ɪs/ or /-əs/ or /-es/ or alternantly any of these eg countess; actress, mistress, seamstress; duchess.  The ending -est now commonly has alternant schwa whether or not as superlative suffix (tho the nouns `conquest `contest, `digest, `inquest & `protest all have only /-est/ in GB). The suffixes -age, -ic, -im, ing, -ish, -ist, -ive have generally retained /ɪ/ in English worldwide eg baggage, cabbage, damage, message, village, cartridge, college, epic, magic, mimic, panic, public, topic, maxim, pilgrim, victim, callings, during, railings, voting, finish, parish, polish, rubbish, selfish, artist, cyclist, fascist, typist, scientist.

It’d be possible to go on to treat many smaller groups of words, notably ones where /u/ or /ʊ/ have to some extent converted to schwa as with educate and regular but the tendency to move to schwa has now been reasonably adequately demonstrated. We see that General British was the world’s most conservative major variety in respect of retaining historic /ɪ/ at the beginning of the last century and that it still is so, but that by the end of the twentieth century it had become very much less so than it used to be.

Blog 479

The 19th of July 2014

Perceptions of Pitches

Recently my fellow phonetic bloggist “Kraut” and I, by co-incidence, posted simultaneously on much the same topic.

where his post was headed ‘People Speaking - Dialogue 27.1’which referred to my Blog 475 'Beginning of Term'.

His post was entirely devoted to the first line of the dialog which is the 27th item in my 91-page book with that title the main content of which is, as he reports, “53 dialogues and other texts of various length and difficulty”. Praps I may be permitted to clarify just a couple of matters. Those items were indeed largely recorded by four professional actors it’s true but a certain number were spoken by sev·ral people who were not professionals. Something like half of all of the items were re·d from scripts I had written specially for the purpose but the rest were unscripted. I think the actors were remarkably good at not sounding as if they were reading on the occasions when I as·t them to try to sound as spontaneous as possible. All the 53 items are available as soundfiles at §4.1 in this website and if anyone cared to take up my challenge to say which numbers were the ones that they think were scripted and which not, if they wished, I’d publish their name and score (out of 53) on this site.

The subject of my Blog 476 was even more restricted than Kraut’s discussion of the first line of that dialog. In fact it was entirely on the first word of that line. Praps I shd apologise for the fact that, in one or two places thruout the collection, some quite improper words are used but, especially if they turn out to have been scripted, I shd like them to be put down to failure to observe propriety from excess of zeal to achieve realism.

It was very kind of Kraut to supply the recording with the two traces — one of amplitude (loudness) the other of the pitch values. I didnt wish to include any such things in my book but it’s very instructive to see displays of that kind. In fact, when I’m analysing speech, I like to see amplitude displays all the time because they can eas·ly be obtained from the very useful freeware application called Audacity by inserting into it something like an mp3 version of the recording. I was sorry not to be able to make such things available direct from my soundfiles but if anyone has the facility to convert them into mp3s etc it’s easy to transfer them into Audacity by dragging them to the Audacity icon in the dock. That enables you to slice short stretches of the amplitude patterns for ad lib repetition which is an enormous help.

Pitch traces are not easy to interpret unless one has had some training in doing so. They can partly represent sounds many of which the human ear either can’t detect at all or give impressions that are misleading to the inexpert because of the inherent human predisposition to take in information that’s useful but to completely fail to notice what is actually heard but automaticly subconsciously rejected because perceived as not useful. We tend to subconsciously disregard sounds that a speaker’s vocal apparatus produces involuntarily and unconsciously. For example the speaker finishes speaking the word [maˑgrət] at the top of the righthand peak of the trace but his vocal cords continue to vibrate to a diminishing extent that the recording apparatus detects and displays as descending line but the human ear doesnt perceive. There is a danger that an untrained observer may be led into imagining that the speaker is producing a linguistic rising-falling tone. Similarly in the second display we briefly see the vocal cords ‘revving up’ to the first peak on the left before we hear the word ‘had’. In addition to all this there may sometimes be occurrences of the phenomena known as ‘artefacts’ in the pitch contours which are produced by only very slightly imperfect operation of the equipment used.


As one possible way to try to go about downloading your sound files using Firefox as browser under Windows as operating system, Kraut has recommended is this:

    1.    Right-click the box which contains the image for the sound file (which image you can see depends on the kind of audio program your browser uses for playing audio files).

    2.     Select "view page info"

    3.     Click "Media"

    4. Highlight the line saying: ""

    (xxx stands for the respective number of the sound file)

5.    Click the button "Save as ..."

The proper file name is shown as a default name.
Save it to a folder of your choice on your hard disk.
Once it's stored you can easily load it into Audacity.

He adds also "another possible and even simpler way is this:
If you know the text number (they range from 01 to 53), simply key the following address into the address bar:
"" (this will allow you to listen to and download text no. 3) and a new tab or window will open and the audio file is played.
You can then download it to your hard disk".

Blog 478

The 13th of July 2014

Consonant Duplications

A reader recently aast questions of which the first were:
We sometimes pronounce one consonant in an utterance, where in orthography we have two. For example, “prime minister” and “I want to learn”.
What is this phenomenon called?
And when transcribing spoken English, is it acceptable to put them as "pry minster" and "wanta" respectively?

To ans·er the second and simpler question first, it woudnt be accurate transcription if you included a sound not uttered by the person whose speech you’re representing. So it’s not merely ‘acceptable’ but necessary. Of course, he used unorthodox spellings to convey his meaning, I presume he was talking about phonetic or phonemic transcriptions. Using the latter, I shd write /praɪ`mɪnɪstə/ and /`wɒnə/. But we have to caution nonnative-speaking users of English that these versions of the expressions are gen·rally considered to be too casual and/or not dignified enuff for important or solem· remarks. In completely fluent ord·nary ev·ryday conversation they’re most likely to pass quite unnoticed in most contexts tho there are important exceptions. For example people dont usually say /wɒnə/ but /wɒnu/ before immediately following vowel sounds just as, of course, the unstrest and uncompounded preposition ‘to’ is /tə/ before consonants and /tu/ before vowels. I think most people wd regard /aɪ dəʊn *wɒnə / or /aɪ dəʊn *wɒnu/ as peculiar or unusually clumsy pronunciations if they’re used in isolation.

There’s no completely universally recognised term listed in all the dictionaries but in the most up-to-date reference books such as SID ie the Speech Internet Dictionary ( you’ll find the word is  ‘degemination’ illustrated like this:
Pronunciation ˌdiːdʒemɪˈneɪʃn
The change from a geminate (long) sound to the equivalent single (short) sound. An example from Finnish: ˈkirkko “church” (nominative), ˈkirkon (genitive). The process also occurs in English. An example is the pronunciation ˈpraɪ ˈmɪnɪstə instead of ˈpraɪm ˈmɪnɪstə.

Wiktionary gives it as an “inverse process of gemination, when a spoken long consonant is pronounced for an audibly shorter period.

Google was useful. It came up first with what was a second post of two by John Wells as follows:

Degemination: the follow-up
Kensuke Nanjo reminds me that Jack Windsor Lewis, in his article ‘Weakform words and contractions’, mentions the degemination that can occur with the word some:
When some occurs in a weakform immediately before a substantive beginning with /m/, there is very often DEGEMINATION of the two /m/s to only one and then OPEN SYLLABLE PREFERENCE prompts the insertion of a schwa vowel, eg /sə `mɔː/ Some more?

Then it gives John’s excellent initial account of the topic on the previous day:

“Geminated (double) consonants are quite common in English. They are never found within a morpheme, but arise across (i) morpheme boundaries and (ii) across word boundaries, wherever one element ends in a given consonant and the following element begins with the same consonant:
(i) meanness ˈmiːnnəs, guileless ˈɡaɪlləs, nighttime ˈnaɪttaɪm, midday ˌmɪdˈdeɪ
(ii) nice sort naɪs sɔːt, big girl bɪɡ ɡɜːl, bad dog bæd dɒɡ
Phonetically, geminated consonants are pronounced like ordinary ones but with extra duration. In the case of plosives, there is a single articulatory gesture but with a longer hold phase.
same man /seɪm mæn/ = [seɪmːæn], stop pushing /stɒp pʊʃɪŋ/ = [stɒpːʊʃɪŋ]
This much is covered by our textbooks. But what I don’t remember seeing much discussion of is degemination in English, the process whereby a geminate is simplified, i.e. two consonants are reduced to one...
Germanic affixes are not subject to degemination. So alongside the Latinate innumerable we have unnecessary with geminated /nn/ and cases like meanness, guileless in (i) above.

My reader's other question was:
In prime ‘minister, the stress is on the first syllable of the second word. Do we have consonantal lengthening here, as we do in words like unnamed, unnecessary.
In /praɪm `mɪnɪstə/ as in all geminations we have an articulatory posture, here [m], assumed and maintained so we have a consonant lengthened. It’s arguable that an impression of two distinct consonantal phonemes may be given but from the articulatory point of view we have one. My Blog 476 was mainly a discussion of this problem.

As for unnamed and unnecessary, a double-length /n/ wd be considered normal in non-casual speech styles but it has to be admitted, that if the length were reduced to that of a single /n/ in normally fluent speech, the fact wd most often be unnoticed even tho, in theory, the first word coud be sed to be converted to unaimed.

Matters of stress dont affect gemination. Nor do presence or absence spaces in the spellings of the sequences. So it hardly matters whether, for prime minister one writes /praɪm`mɪnɪstə/ or /praɪm `mɪnɪstə/ . It’s simply customarily convenient to follow the spacings used in traditional orthography, hyphens being treated as spaces. Aside from the ‘eccentric’ Wells syllabification system used in his Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, spaces have hardly any special functions in phonological transcriptions whether phonemic or allophonic.

Other examples include the following:
lamppost’ carefully spoken /`lӕmppəʊst/ but for many speakers, at least in fluent utterance, it becomes /`lӕmpəʊst/. People who often use the word ‘fish shop’ may tend to say it as /`fɪʃɒp/. Among people connected with armies etc the word ‘sergeant-major’ /sɑʤənt`meɪʤə/ has often become /sɑnt → sɑn→sɑm `meɪʤə/ and finally /sɑ`meɪʤə/. The word ‘loneliness’ often becomes /`ləʊnninəs/ then /`ləʊninəs/. The word ‘probably’ often becomes /`prɒbbli/ and even /`prɒbli/  in fluent speech. The word ‘goalless’, which I hear fairly often from sports reporters in radio and television news programs, seem to me to usually say it not as /`gəʊl.ləs/ but as /`gəʊləs/.

Blog 477

The 2nd of July 2014

A Bucketful of Phonemes

Some of my readers may be amused to look at this:

It’s a very funny brief (one minute) YouTube video excerpt from a tv sketch involving the comicly genteel character Hyacinth Bucket. It’s a very nice choice for teaching transcription-from-speech to not very advanced students because she speaks abnormally carefully for the most part with very few of the assimilations that are common in unselfconscious conversation like /wᴧŋ/ inste∙d of /wᴧn/. Unfortunately the person who made the transcription must’ve done it in a hurry because there’re a dozen or so mistakes.

It’s a scene of two “ladies” having a cup of tea together from the sitcom series called 'Keeping Up Appearances' with subtitles “in IPA. Hyacinth Bucket is talking about her family heirloom”.

 “A great tool to practise your IPA and English pronunciation” say ‘Pronunciation Studio’ the presenters of five videos aimed at teaching British pronunciation of which this is one.

The dialog goes like this:

I thought we’d have the nicer china.
Oh! Thank you, Hyacinth.
They’re something of a family heirloom.
Oh, God. Don’t give me anything special.
You will be careful, won’t you, dear.
Biscuit? Well … Thank you.
I used to have six of these until one fell into the hands of my brother-in-law, Onslow, one Christmas. I could have killed him. Course, one can’t make a fuss on festive occasions but he certainly got the short end of the turkey, I can tell you.
Did they tell you what was wrong with your father?
Something mildly embarrassing. One of those minor geriatric complaints. I couldn’t catch the medical terminology.
 (109 words)

This little clip is subtitled "in IPA" with transcriptions of what the transcriber perceived as spoken.
/ˈaɪ ˈθɔːt wid həv ðə ˈnaɪsə ˈtʃaɪnə ||
The first word “I” shd not’ve been stressmarked
/həv/ very obvisly shdve been /hæv/.
əʊ ˈθæŋk ju ˈhaɪəsɪnθ || The word ‘Oh’ certnly shdve had a stressmark.
ðæts ˈsʌmθɪŋ əv ə ˈfæməli ˈeəluːm ||
The word given as /ðæts/ ie 'that’s' is a mistake for  /ðeə/ ie 'They’re'. 'family' was pronounced /ˈfæmli/ with no schwa.
əʊ ˈɡɒd | dəʊnt ˈɡɪv mi ˈeniθɪŋ ˈspeʃl̩ ||
The word 'don’t' shdve had a stressmark thus / ˈdəʊnt ɡɪv mi /
ˈsəʊ ju 'wɪl bi ˈkeəfəl | wəʊntʃu dɪə
“won't you” shdve had a stressmark /ˈwəʊntʃu/
'bɪskɪt | we[l].. θæŋk ju. The /l/ is inaudible.
Biscuit? Well … Thank you.
aɪ  'juːs tə hæv 'sɪks əv 'ðiːz
I used to have six of these
ən'tɪl 'wᴧn fel 'ɪntə ðə 'hænz əv maɪ
until one fell into the hands of my
maɪ ˈbrʌðər ˈɪn lɔ | 'ɒnzləʊ | ' wʌn ˈkrɪsməs
'brother-in-law, 'Onslow, one 'Christmas.
aɪ 'kʊdəv 'kɪld ɪm
I could have killed him.

/ ˈjuːs tə həv / obvisly shdve been /hæv/ and
/ maɪ ˈbrʌðər ˈɪn lɔː/ shdve been / mə ˈbrʌðər /etc
Both principal pronunciation dictionaries record the existence of the weakform /mə/ but they make it clear that they regard it as casual and unusual.
ˈaɪ 'kʊdəv || kɪld ɪm | The word ‘killed’ is very strongly stressed so surely shdve had a stressmark.
| əf ˈkɔːs | wʌŋ kɑːnt
She didnt speak any word ‘Of ’ at all.
The word 'course' shd not have had a stressmark.
Agen she sed /wᴧn/ not /wʌŋ/.
/bət i ˈsɜːtnli ˈɡɒt ðə ˈʃɔːt end əv ə../ is actually
what was sed and not /end əv ðə../
 but it was too fast to be very noticeable.
 /ɡɒt/ shdntve been stressed.
At  | ˈaɪ kən ˈtel ju | /tel/ was not stressed.
At 'couldn’t' in /ˈaɪ ˈkʊdnt kætʃ/
she sed / ˈkʊdn/ with no /t/ at-all.
This is extremely common if the word next after couldn’t or a similar contraction begins with a consonant.
Patricia Routledge’s facial expression at the end is hilariously funny.

||  She said /wᴧn/ not /wʌŋ/

The other three videos are unimpressive didactic materials except for ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ which is sung in an at least partly Americanised style with some pronunciations transcribed as if they’d been British eg [ɑːnsə] is shown when [ænsə] is heard, [sᴧmbədi] is shown when we get [sᴧmbɑdi], and [gɜːl] is given when you hear [gal]. Some of their versions show a [w] in the transcription that you dont hear in the song at eg flowers given as [flaʊwəz].

Mostly, the mistakes suggest that the writer gave transcriptions guessed to be what was most likely rather than than gathered from careful lissening.

My thanks go to Alex Rotatori for drawing my attention to this little gem.

Blog 476

The 28th of June 2014


One of my most faithful readers has written to me to ask how I come to have two ells in the transcription of the first word Hullo in my Blog 475. This was a very good question. He pointed out that there’s on·y one ell in the text of my original book from which this item is taken saying “In the PS transcription (p. 24) there's only one /l/ in both instances.” He’s absolutely right there. What’s more, at page 73 of People Speaking I agen transcribed the word still with only a single ell. I have to admit that it did cross my mind to comment on that topic when I began writing Blog 475. But I thaut I’d review the matter agen when I’d finished talking about the other things I felt I wanted to deal with first regarding the rest of that short dialog. When I came to the end of what I found I wanted to say about it, I realised that I’d written so much on things arising from the rest of the passage ie over 1,130 words (which is a bit longer than I normally allow myself for a single blog) so I decided not to add any comment.

Fact is

[Yes, I’ve left out the usual definite article ‘the’ before that first word but I happen to prefer to adopt a style for my blogs which is consciously more colloquial and less ‘careful’ than in the more formal ‘papers’ etc that constitute the materials in the ‘Home Page’ main division of this website. In the same way, I permit myself to change spellings to something I find less irritatingly inappropriate etc than the traditionally maintained way of the writing of various words. Sorry for this excessively long ‘aside’ but let's continue with that sentence: Fact is...]

that, tho undou·tedly the accepted phonemic structure of the word ‘hullo’ has, (despite its correct orthographic forms’ always containing two ells) a single ell, what we encounter in lissening to the way Jim sez ‘Hullo Margaret’, is a phonetic problem that I dodged when I originally did my two transcriptions of the phrase in my People Speaking book.

You hear that Jim sez the word in an emphatic manner which can be sed to, in a way, sort-of distort its phonetic form thus [ `hᴧlˏləʊ, mɑgrət ]. Our very reliable guide the Wells LPD (Longman Pronunciation Dictionary) gives us this: \ hə ˈləʊ \ first then \ (ˌ) hᴧ \ which means that insted of /ə/ the first vowel is, by fewer people at least, replaced with \ ᴧ \ which they may or may not stress. It must be remembered that pronouncing dictionaries only offer lexical ie isolate non-emphatic variant forms. Now Jim in our dialog makes the word ‘hullo’ part of an emphatic lively, enthusiastic, hearty or whatever such you may call it, greeting to show he’s very pleased to see her. So he produces the effect-at-least of a primary stress on the first syllable of the first word which takes it a long way from the emotion-free lexical form which is only recorded as potentially having a secondary stress on that first syllable as one of its lexical variants. An important simultaneous other way in which Jim emphasises his attitude is by his ‘paralinguistic’ lengthening of the ell.

Now if speakers emphasise an ell like the one in holy /`həʊli/ in saying in the (admittedly rather feeble euphemistic) oath Holy smoke!, they may say [`həʊlːi] considerably lengthening that ell which, however, still remains a single ell phonetically. But they may also say [`həʊlː.li] which is audibly diff·rent enuff for it to be heard to have its second syllable beginning with a separate further rhythmic pulse that clearly produces what we have surely to classify as an extra ell. Are we to say that the second ell is an extra phoneme. If not, what about the adverb corresponding to whole which is traditionally spelt wholly and always represented with the lexical spelling /`həʊlli/. At the same time we may note that, by another of the endless tiresome vagaries of our traditional spelling, we always only write the adverb corresponding to sole as solely.

Alright. Let’s look at what Jim sez: which is \`hᴧlˏləʊ, mɑgrət\ as I’ve shown it. Now, when I’d lissend repeatedly to the first syllable of Hullo, I was cert·n that it ended with an ell. On the other hand I was equally sure that the second syllable began with an ell. The question is have we got two /l/ phonemes here so that he may be sed to have changed the phonemic structure of the word. One other thing we shd do is to look closely at the tonetic structure of the phrase. It’s a Fall-Rise tone and, as I’ve sed, its Fall element seems to me to include an ell. What is more, the second syllable isnt just /əʊ/. It feels strange when I try to say it aloud with no /l/. Notice also that the word Margaret has not got a tone to itself but it’s incorporated into the tail of a rising tone. So, for what it’s worth, I’d be willing to say that there’s been a conversion from one to two ell phonemes here. Hence my re-considered, what I take to be phonemic, transcription, on this occasion at least, with two ells despite the word’s normal phonemic structure.

Blog 475

The 23rd of June 2014

Beginning of Term PS 27

Jim:  Hullo, Margaret. Had a good holiday?
    `hᴧlˏləʊ, mɑgrət.  ˈhad ə gʊd ˏhɒlədɪ

If you look in the LPD or the CEPD ie the two major dictionaries that record the pronunciations of English words (aka the Longman & the Cambridge) you’ll see that, for the three words hallo, hello and hullo, they have entries with variants that wd seem properly to belong with one of the others’ spellings. What we have is a lexical item that behaves as a single word that’s capable of more than one pronunciation. This explains why, tho the two readers who recorded Passage 27 of PS (my book People Speaking, the soundfile for which you’ll find at Section 4.1 of the main division of this website) were both reading from a script that sed “Hullo”, one reader sed /hᴧləʊ/ but the other sed /haləʊ/. (Some PS items were re·d from scripts, others were unscripted.) Compare the way in which, with a script that contains the word either, one reader may say /aɪðə/ and another say /iðə/.

If you look up the word holiday, you’ll find that they give more than one form for it eg /`hɒlədeɪ/ and /`hɒlədi/. In fact prob·bly most speakers have both of these types using /`hɒlədeɪ/ when the word is most highlighted but /`hɒlədi/ when it’s less so eg in the phrase /`hɒlədi taɪm/ holiday time. This means that we cou·d reasonably classify it as a ‘gradation word’ ie one which has two or more forms, a strongform and at least one weakform used in diff·rent rhythmic contexts. They rightly list the version /`hɒlɪdeɪ/ in addition but that has become a minority form, as they indicate. This is part of a gen·ral move to relaxing word-internal weak /ɪ/ to /ə/ which has long been going on at diff·rent rates in all kinds of English.
The name Margaret is one of the many words, like every, several and different that it’d be quite abnormal to say as three syllables in everyday conversation.

Margaret: Hullo, Jim. Yes. Very nice, thanks.
    `haləʊ, ˏʤɪm. `jes. `veri naɪs ˏθaŋks.

Another change to General British pronunciation that happened relatively suddenly early in the latter half of the last century was the pref·rence for /i/ instead of /ɪ/ for weak word-endings as in items like happy. Fact is, tho, that the syllable may be so weakly uttered that it’s not possible to judge whether the speaker’s target value was /i/ or /ɪ/. Altho Margaret does seem to aim for /i/, it doesnt seem cert·n whether Jim’s clearly audible /`hɒlədɪ/ with final [ɪ] is aiming at /-ɪ/ or at /-eɪ/ but reducing the latter so much that it sounds as if he’s using his /ɪ/ phoneme. Many people reduce the word ballet from /baleɪ/ to /balɪ/ when its final syllable is being ‘squeezed’ eg when they say /`balɪ dɑnsə/ for ballet dancer.

You’re reminded that our intonation markings are very broad (ie coarse, imprecise) as is observable from the fact that the first Rise tone Jim used indicates a movement that begins on the second syllable of hullo fairly low and carries on to end above the middle of the speaker’s voice range whereas the same tonemark is used to convey at holiday a move from little if anything below the middle of the speaker’s range to something markedly higher.

Jim: ˈYou ˈwent | to the `Lake District, ˏdidnt you?
Margaret: `No. `Scotland.
Jim: ˈOh! ˎYes. `Not ˏlakes. `Lochs /lɒks/.

People who know something of cert·n forren languages including those of the ‘Celtic Fringe’ along the west of Britain might say /lɒxs/ with a voiceless velar fricative but most English speakers dont attempt to.

Jim: ˈWhat was /wəz/ the ˎweather like?
Margaret: Quite `good, ˏreally.
We ˈmanaged /manʒ/ | to go on some `trip or ˏother | every `day.

She said /rɪəlɪ/ rather than /-li/.

The transcription /manʒ/ of the way she sed managed may look rather strange but she only did three very ord·nary, commonplace things to it:

  1. She simplified managed  by eliding the /d/ which in a careful pronunciation wdve come in the middle of the heavy group /-ʤdt-/.

  2. She simplified the /ʤ/ to /ʒ/.

  3. She elided the medial weak vowel /ɪ/.

Jim:´`Did you.
We had ˈquite a lot of `rain | down `∙south.

The Climb-Fall tone, as I call it, ´` is typically rhythmically distinct from the sequence / ˈdɪ `ʤu  / by being more tight-knit.

The weakness of the quiet low-level initial ‘prehead’ that begins this tonal phrase causes Jim, rather unusually, to leave out the /h/ that he’d normally say at the beginning of the word had. He omits the indefinite article a between quite and lot too. Again something not very unusual. Schwa is our weakest vowel.

Speakers who wish to avoid the complete definiteness of a final Fall (from high to low) have two strategies available. One is to go back up again a little from the bottom pitch producing a Fall-Rise tone to slightly ‘cancel’ the full descent. The other is to avoid making a total fall by ending the descent early before it reaches the normal bottom level of an ord·nry Fall. This second one usually sounds less formal so it’s favoured by speakers who prefer to sound more relaxed. I call it a ‘Drop’ and my notation for it is a Fall sign with a middle-height dot close after like this / `·/. This tone / `· / here used at south cuts the falling movement short by ending it in the speaker’s middle pitch range.

Margaret: ˈHow did you enjoy `London
    / ˈhaʊ dɪʤu ɪnʤɔɪ `lᴧndn /

Her pronunciation of London came as quite a surprise to me after decades of warning my students, especially German-speakers, not to leave the schwas out of sequences like /ndən/ and /ntən/. I think it sounds a bit hasty. I can do it if London is squeezed as in /lᴧndn tə dəʊvə/ (London to Dover) but it can sound too ungracefully ‘swallowed’ in most situations.

Jim: It was great! /ˈɪt [ʔ] wəz ˎgreɪt/. Went to the ˈtheatre… `or `ˏsomething | ˈevery single `night.   /went ðə ˈθɪətə | ˎɔ `ˏsᴧmθɪŋ | ˈevri sɪŋgl `naɪt/.

We see he makes the very common change here of realising the / t / of it as not the more ordinary voiceless alveolar plosive [ t ] but the glottal plosive [ ʔ ]. On another occasion, being a little more emphatic, he mightve used both together which woudve been the halfway house between the two processes. We offen accompany strong voiceless plosives with such reinforcing glottal closures.

He elided the to of went to the which sounds a bit hasty or careless but not very unusual. If he’d sed both the / t / ending went and the one beginning to it woudve sounded over-careful.

Blog 474

The 16th of June 2014

Beverley Collins 1938-2014

“Bev” Collins died from a massive heart attack on the eleventh of June at the age of 75. He and I first met about forty years ago. We were amused to find that there were quite some parallels in our early lives. We were both born and bred in Cardiff, both getting our education at grammar schools. Mine was just west of the city centre, his was in the less rough northern suburb where he lived. We both went on to graduate in English at Cardiff — “me in 1951 and him in 1960”, to word it Cardiff colloquial style, he adding to it an education Diploma. We both began our teaching careers, ten years apart, as Lecturers at Erith Technical College in northwest Kent. I left that college in 1957 and he arrived at it a few years later. To his amused surprise he found that he was following in the footsteps of another voluble guy from Cardiff, his new colleagues told him, who’d also kept dashing up to classes at University College Phonetics Department! Erith was on the south bank of the Thames within fairly easy reach of London. I’d left for Sweden to teach for its Folk University. He moved on from Erith to a college at Thurrock on the opposite bank of the Thames to minister chiefly to English teachers from West Africa. In 1969 he was appointed Lecturer in Phonetics at the English Department of the University of Lancaster. In 1970 I returned to England from work in various universities etc abroad to an appointment as Lecturer in Phonetics at Leeds University.

In 1973 he transferred from Lancaster to the Netherlands where, after two years at Utrecht Teacher Training Institute, he became a Lecturer specialising in phonetics in the Department of English at the University of Leiden, a position he held until he retired in 2003. In 1988 he received a doctorate from the Phonetics Institute of Utrecht University for a thesis on the early life of the most important British phonetician of the first half of the twentieth century. Who else but Daniel Jones? This was to be expanded, with the collaboration of his Leiden colleague Dr Inger Mees, into a magnificent 572-page full biography of Jones publisht in 1999 under the title (suggested by me!) of The Real Professor Higgins. Besides this masterpiece Bev wrote, almost always in collaboration with Inger, a remarkable series of publications. They included a fine account of The Phonetics of English and Dutch and, another masterpiece, the unchallengeably most complete book in its field of undergraduate-level introductions to the phonetics of British English, their Practical Phonetics and Phonology. Look at our Blog 446 above for a review of its third edition which came out last year — and for pictures of both authors. He wrote a lot more and travelled about lecturing and teaching in far more places than I can mention here.

Besides finding that we had had very similar early backgrounds we found that we had very similar outlooks. I never enjoyed working with anyone more than with Bev. When I got the go-ahead from the Department of English of the University of Murcia (headed by Professor Rafael Monroy-Casas) to run for them an annual series of Summer Courses in English Phonetics, for teachers of English from all over Spain, I immediately invited Bev to join me in organising it. Each year (except for one in which, for a change, we used the premises of Alicante University) from 1993 to 1999 we shared flats in the attractive very un-touristy cathedral city of Murcia. My wife Jane and his wife Sandra, both experienced EFL teachers, were able to help us broaden the curriculum. We hugely enjoyed the teaching and the companionship — very much in holiday high spirits. The students were a pleasure to work with. Some of them liked the course so much they came back for a second helping. Bev and I were finally to work side by side again from 2007 on the University College London Summer Course in English Phonetics for the last four years of my twenty from 1990 to 2010. I never met anyone more stimulating or amusing or just simply enjoyable to be with.

Blog 473

The 11th of June 2014

Welsh Place-Names

Continuing our accounts of the LJ’s (Lloyd James) BBC BROADCAST ENGLISH historic series of booklets of ‘Recommendations to Announcers’ we come to its fourth which is devoted to Wales. Tho it’s a country not much more than a quarter of the size of Scotland, there’re slightly more entries than the Scottish booklet had. Whereas on the place-names of Scotland LJ consulted, besides the twenty members of the regular committee, fourteen extra correspondents, for Welsh names he only acknowledged help from five extra advisers. This was of course because he was largely on home ground having had Welsh-speaking parents and received his schooling in South Wales at Llanelly.

This booklet departed from the procedure adopted in the others in that it supplied thru its alternative ‘modified spelling’ versions not just simply ‘self-explanatory’ representations of exac·ly the same pronunciations as had been given first using IPA symbols but also provided diff·rent, alternative ‘Anglo-Welsh’ pronunciations. For example at Llanelly he gives / ɬanˈeɬi / and follows it by not \ lhannˈelhi \ which wd stand for exactly the same pronunciation but \ lannélhi \ is used to indicate as ‘permissible’ an ‘Anglo-Welsh’ variant with an initial ordinary ell not the voiceless fricative variety used by Welsh speakers. He rather overstated things at times as when he said “..the Englishman who imagines that because the first ll can be pronounced as an English l the second can follow suit is breaking all the rules of the game; [lanˈeli] is a hideous pronunciation, possibly more in disfavour even than [θlənˈeθli] or [lənˈeθli], which at any rate do make some effort to get the Welsh sound.” Actually, these last two versions are perfectly acceptable today and probably were so in his day. No British dictionary sanctions / lanˈeli / even as an American variant. Merriam-Online with \ hla-ˈne-hlē \ first and then \ la-ˈne-lē \ is unrealisticly optimistic about the first and realisticly pessimistic about the second.

LJ failed to notice that monoglot English speakers in the quite large areas of Wales where Welsh was never spoken or at least English has been predominant for centuries, when attempting Welsh pronunciations of double ells, virtually never succeed in producing /ɬ/ without following it with an extra, ordinary, /l/. More on this topic is available at our Home Page §9.1 and Blogs 064 and 104. (I’m sorry to say that the BBC Wales Web addresses given in 104 have now become defunct for no reason I’ve been able to discover).

The spellings of place-names in Wales are a minefield of pitfalls for the unwary. At page 4 of the present booklet we find an LJ comment which is now surely very much out of date. “Announcers..have had regular instruction in Welsh pronunciation… They are required to know as much about the relation between spelling and pronunciation in Welsh as in French, German, Italian and Spanish; and Welshmen who are inclined to be critical of an announcer’s efforts would do well to remember that Welsh spelling is not as phonetic as it is sometimes imagined to be.” He demonstrates his point by asking “Why the w in Cwm represents a short vowel, while that in Pwll stands for a long vowel; why the y has two values in ynys and yet a third in rhyd; why the accent is on the second syllable in Caerhun and on the first syllable in Caerwys…” These were /kʊm, puɬ, `ᴧnɪs, rid, kaɪə`hin, kair`uɪs/. We may add the example of the word Eglwyswrw “\ eglʊɪs`ʊəru \” (as it was represented in Miller 1971) has the letter w which in English can only stand for a consonant but three times here stands for vowels.

The existing irregularities within Welsh include, besides its numerous vowel ambiguities, Llanllwchaiarn as /ɬanɬux`haɪarn/ which lacks the extra letter aitch that shou·d follow the existing one of its spelling. Such problems are added to by the numerous occurrences of place-name hybrids of various kinds as with eg Ebbw Vale, /ebu `veɪl/, Kenfig / `kenfɪg / Hill, Lampeter / `lampɪtə /, Llandilo \ ɬan`dəɪləʊ \ (“an English spelling” LJ p.10), Llandough /lan`dɒk/, Llandrindod / ɬanˈdrɪndɒd / Wells, Llangadock /ɬan`gadɒk/, Llangunnock /ɬan`gᴧnɒk/, Llanvetherine \ɬan`veθrɪn\, Llanyre \ɬan`iə\, Loughor /`lᴧxə/ Merthyr /`mɜθə/, Michaelston-y-Vedw /maɪklstən ə `vedu/, Trecastle \ tre`kasl \, Ogmore / `ɒgmɔ /, Pont Neath Vaughan, Pont Yates /jeɪts/, Pontypool / pɒntə`pul /, Port Eynon / `aɪnən /, Port Madoc / pɔt `madək / ( LJ’s \ pɒrt `madɒk \ is only common with Welsh speakers ), Prescelly / prə`seli /, Resolven / rə`zɒlvən / with its very un-Welsh / z /, Rhymney, / `rᴧmni /, Treorchy     / tri`ɔki /, `Wrexham / `reksm /  and so on.

Many irregularities are due to double-ell spellings with the value /l/ instead of /ɬ/ as in Abertillery / ˈabətɪ`lɛri /, Begelly / bɪ`geli /, Caerphilly /kə`fɪli/ (which also has un-Welsh ph for /f/), Kid`welly /kɪd`weli/, Killay /kɪ`leɪ/, Llandaff / `landəf /, Llandeloy /ɬandə`lɔɪ/, Llanellen / ɬan`elən /, Llandough / lan`dɒk /, Llanhilleth / lan`hɪləθ /, Penally / pə`nali /, Talley / `tali /. LJ’s Use of \ ɬanˈɪʃen \ for Llanishen wou·d’ve been pedantry then and, since the eruption in 1962 of the pressure group giving itself the title ‘The Welsh Language Society’, will as likely now be a political gesture. It’s now normally on the spot / lə`nɪʃn /. Llanfair Mathafarn /ɬanˈvaɪr ma`θafarn/ has a single f in the latter word used for /f/ when normal Welsh spelling has ff for that sound. The English language place-names Black`wood, Bri`dgend, Ferry`side, Holy`head and Welsh`pool, have irregular (as regards their spelling at least) late accents.

Some words are ambiguous by being possibly unitary or possibly compound judging from their spellings eg Gladestry /`gleɪdstri/, Grosmont /`grɒsmənt/, Kenfig /`kenfɪg/, Magor /`meɪgə/, Martletwy /mɑtl`twaɪ/. Some items may be either spelling pronunciations or possibly misprints like Caerphilly for which in 1971 LJ’s / kar`fɪli / was corrected to / kə`fɪli /, and Glamorgan / gla`mɔgən / to /glə`mɔgən/. One very minor item that LJ and his successors have failed to record is that the local educated version of Bridgend is /brɪ`ʤend/ whose second syllable begins with its /ʤ/ not its /e/. Strangers usually pronounce it as if it were spelt *Bridge `End. There’re many other items that cou·d be added to LJ’s list — even ten that he used as examples in his introductory notes.

Blog 472

The 4th of June 2014

Scottish Place-Names concluded

Reminder: The original LJ (Lloyd James) partly-Scottish old-style transcriptions are not copied exactly from his text but given here in a transcription (with no lengthmarks) of how they might be attempted by today’s announcers.

Section 3.8 of the ‘Home Page’ ie main division of this website on Stressing Irregularities in English Place Names pointed out that the regular pattern of the stresses in names consisting of two basic words was to take tonic stress on their first accentable syllable. It provided a list of about a hundred place-names as examples of departures from the regular pattern. It was to be seen that a high proportion of such names had originated in the Celtic ‘fringe’ areas of Britain ie Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Many of them contained initial elements such as Aber-, Inver-, Kil-, Strath- and Tre-. Quite a lot of longer names have their tonic syllables in the later position that’s more characteristic of phrases than unified single words. Here are some examples from the LJ list for Scotland: Auchinleck /ɒxɪn`lek/, Aviemore /avi`mɔ/, Ballantrae /balən`treɪ/, Culloden /kə`lɒdən/, Cumbernauld /kᴧmbə`nɔld/, Dunfermline /dᴧn`fɜmlɪn/, Gatehouse /geɪt`haʊs/, Kennethmont /ken`eθmənt/, Lochearnhead /lɒxˈɜn`hed/, Lossiemouth /lɒsi`maʊθ/, Maryhill /mɛri`hɪl/, Oldhamstocks /əʊld`hamstɒks/, Peterhead /pitə`hed/, Rosyth /rə`saɪθ/, Tobermory /təʊbə`mɔri/, Uphall /ᴧp`hɔl/ and Ythanbank /aɪθən`baŋk/. Many of the above wdve been much more convenient for the non-Scottish reader if they had simply had their main elements separated eg Old Ham `Stocks.

The largest Scottish city Glasgow appeared only as /`glɑsgəʊ/ which must’ve raised eyebrows amongst the London announcers because the most usual version of it in England in 1932 (pace Joners 1917 probably was and still is actually /`glɑzgəʊ/ which had been the normal form given to it by one of the BBC announcers who during the Second World War and long afterwards was one of the most famous of them. With an unusual, Swedish name (pronounced in completely Anglicised fashion as /ˈalvɑ lɪˎdel/), he was Alvar Lidell. The tyrannical Reith once heard him say /`glɑzgəʊ/ and sent for him. Lidell mentioned this in an interview which is a choice item in the BBC’s sound archives. Apparently Reith’s idea of a discussion about how the word might be most suitably pronounced in broadcasting was to fiercely hiss at him [`glɑsːːːgəʊ] at which he presumably fled in terror. The interviewer, on hearing this, askt “And have you said it like that ever since?” to which he received the emphatic reply “I certainly have”. Incident·ly both Glasgow and Edinburgh have districts called Calton which in the former is called /kɑltən/ and the latter /kɔltən/. Lamancha /may look Spanish to some of us but it isnt, it’s /lə`maŋkə/. On the other hand Portobello /pɔtəʊ`beləʊ/ looks very un-Scottish and so it is because it was named in commemoration of a famous naval victory at Panama in 1739.

For Lerwick there can be no dout that the <w> spelling corresponds to a spoken /w/ unlike the <w> of the northernmost town of England Berwick on Tweed, one of a dozen English Berwicks all pronounced /`berɪk/. Many a person familiar with one or more of that dozen must be inclined to imagine that Lerwick must be pronounced /`lerik*/. One such person acting in a recent minor tv murder drama set on the island of Shetland had obvi·sly made that mistaken assumption. The river name Avon we find given as /ɑn/ which contrasts strikingly with Stratford’s /`eɪvən/ and Devon’s /`avən/. A fourth variant has come into use in the form of an American trade name (presumably simply a euphonism) for a set of originally mainly cosmetic products purveyed famously since the 1920s by the door-to-door sales of “Avon /`eɪvɒn / ladies”. Compare §3.1 ¶16a on our home page. Another famous commodity the Dunlop tyre is /`dᴧnlɒp/ to most of us but Scottish people and places with the name are usually /dən`lɒp/. Other items that are the stuff of announcers’ nightmares abound among Scottish names such as Bilbster /`bɪlpstə/, Braal /brɔl/, Broughty /brɔti/, Buccleuch /bə`klu/, Cockburnspath/`kəʊbɜnzpɑθ/, Culzean /kə`leɪn/, Drumelzier /drᴧm`iljə/, Drumquhassle /drᴧm`hwasl/, Eigg /eg/, Forfar /`fɔfə/, Greenock /`grɪnək/, Grandtully /`grɑntli/, Haugh of Urr /hɑx əv ɜ(r)/, Irongray /aɪrən`greɪ/, Islay /aɪlə/, Kingussie /kɪŋ`jusi/, Kirkaldy, /kɜ`kɔdi/, Kirkudbright /kɜ`kubri/, Milngavie /mɪl`gaɪ/, Monzie /mɒn`i/, Oronsay /`ɒrənzeɪ/, Penicuik /`penikʊk/, Quoich /kɔɪx/, Rubislaw /`rubslɔ/, Ruthven /`rɪvən/ (but the two that arent in Angus are /`rᴧθvən/), /Teallach/`ʧaləx/, Sanquhar /saŋkə/, Tighnabruaich /taɪnə`bruəx/, Uyeasound /`juəsaʊnd/, Vaternish /`wɔtənɪʃ/, Whittingehame /`hwɪtɪnʤəm/ and Yetholm /`jetəm/.

Blog 471

The 30th of May 2014

The Holy Oral Method PS 26

The Holy Oral Method
/ðə ˈhəʊli ˈɔrl ˎmeθəd/

As with so many of the titles of the passages in my book People Speaking, I havnt been able to resist having a little fun-with-a-pun. If you havent already guessed what it is in this case, you may need to be reminded that there’s another word that can be and often is (when it’s not uttered more carefully as /həʊlli/) pronounced exactly like the word ‘holy’. That’s the word ‘wholly’ which of course means ‘entirely’.

Please go to §4.1 Item 26 in the main part of this website for the sound file of this dialog.

The phonemic transcription provided below is the kind that doesnt bother to include marks indicating the vowels /i, ɑ, ɔ, u, ɜ/ as long — along with, for those who’re very up-to-date, /ɛ/ instead of /eə/. My apologies to those who prefer to stick to the /eə/ you find in most dictionaries. In fact these five or six phonemes are only fairly often long and quite often very short — so it’s really a matter of personal pref·rence whether you feel it’s worth bothering to transcribe them with lengthmarks. If you havnt le·rnt the ‘rules’ for when these vowels need to be long or short, lengthmarks are as likely to be misleading as helpful. My personal pref·rence is to drop them. I do understand that some people like transcriptions that add lengthmarks coz it makes them stand out and therefore easier to read.

One of the things that you find when you lissen very carefully and repeatedly to recordings is that they sound full of ambiguities rather than 100% clear sets of unmistakeable phonemes, rhythms and pitches. I hardly ever lissen to more than a sentence or two without wishing to transcribe some of it to some extent diff·rently on a second examination. If you look at that printed book of mine (People Speaking OUP 1977) from which this dialog has been taken, you’ll see that it’s been transcribed in three different versions. The first is in a very simple phonemic transcription with no lengthmarks and, for indications of rhythms, only stress marks. The second version isnt in a phonetic transcription but in ordinary spelling with the addition of intonation marks. The third version doesnt show only phonemes but gives detailed prosodic and segmental information producing what’s called allophonic transcription. This third section also displays various further features like pauses and glottal stops. You may notice that, if you compare the transcriptions in two of the versions, from time to time you’ll find that they don’t match. If so, this is not likely to be coz one is right and the other wrong. It’s most likely to be coz I found it impossible to be sure which of two possible transcriptions was the better one or ie coz I felt I was hearing something as far as I cd judge simply half way between two values. This sort of dilemma particularly occurs when one’s attempting to judge pitch variations. Genuinely spontaneous speech is normally full of vaguenesses. When you come to think about it, this is on·y very natural coz not on all the topics we talk about have we got really clearcut ideas or opinions.

Let’s take examples from the first sentence of our present brief passage (of only 70 words in 22 seconds). Firstly, the word English seems to be moving upward very slightly but this is so unclear that I’ve preferred to mark it as level in pitch. As regards the word ‘should’, it seems dou·tful whether it has a vowel between its /ʃ/and the /d/. And if it has got a vowel it’s quite uncert·n whether it’s /ʊ/ or /ə/. The vowel sounds occurring between the /t/ and the /l/ of the word entirely cert·nly dont have the three distinct vowel qualities that you might get if the word were being uttered slowly and carefully as /ɪnˈtɑɪəli/. So one might praps best show it as /ɪnˈtɑəli/ but the schwa element is so weak I dont feel cert·n it wou·dnt be better shown as /ɪnˈtɑli/.

1. I think the first year of learning English
/ ˈaɪ ˈθɪŋk ⎥ ðə ˈfɜst ˈjɜr ⎥ əv ˈlɜnɪŋ ˈɪŋglɪʃ

 should be entirely verbal.
ʃd bi ɪnˈtɑli ˎvɜbl

2. No books at all?
ˈnəʊ ˈbʊks ⎥ ə`ˏtɔl

3. Not one. Just the teacher saying things
ˈnɒt ˎwᴧn. ˎʤᴧs ðə `tiʧə ˈseɪ.ɪŋ θɪŋz |

 and the class repeating them after him.
ən ðə ˈklɑs rə`pitɪŋ ˏðəm ˎɑftr ɪm

4. You’ll never sell us that idea.
jul ˎnevə ˎsel əs `ðat aɪˏdiə

5. I should have said that illustrations are all right.
aɪ `ʃʊd əv sed | ðət ɪlə`streɪʃnz ər ɔl ˏraɪt|

But no words in them.
bət ˈnəʊ ˎwɜdz ɪn ðm.

6. I’m afraid it wouldnt work, I can assure you.
aɪm əfreɪd ɪt `wʊdnt `ˏwɜk| aɪ kən ə`ʃɔ ju

7. For me it’s been an article of devout faith for years.
fə ˈmi | ɪts bin ən ˈɑtɪkl | əv dɪˈvaʊt ˈfeɪθ | fə ˎ jɜz