Archive for the Category: Pronunciation

Dental fricatives

Continuing yesterday’s theme of sounds that can be challenging to pronounce, today we look at the voiceless dental fricative /θ/. This sound is usually written th in English and appears in such words as three [θriː], thought [θɔːt] and thin [θɪn]. In the Spanish of Spain it’s written c (when followed by i or e), […]

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Alveolar trills

One aspect of Spanish pronunciation that can be tricky to master is the trilled or rolled r, which is also known as an alveolar trill /r/. This sound is also used in Italian and many other languages. Some people seem convinced that if you can’t already make this sound, it’s impossible to learn. If you […]

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Accents and the brain

A researcher at University College London who is looking into how we come by our accents, among other things, has found that more of the brain is involved in speech than previously thought. An article in The Times explains how the brain of an impressionist was scanned while he was saying short phrases in a […]

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Accents of English

A website I found today compares how people from many different regions and countries pronounce English words. It also gives the pronunciation of equivalent words in related languages, and in older forms of English and other Germanic languages. The pronunciations are all given in the IPA, and there are recordings of many of the modern […]

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Language and rhythm

Language and rhythm are inextricably linked, according to a blog post I found the other day. The post is about reading scripts for theatrical performances, but much of it applies just as much to every day speech. The main point is that language has inherent rhythms which are crucial because they are where the meaning […]

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Sounds familiar

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been learning the Polish version of Silent Night (Cicha Noc). While trying work out how to pronounce the Polish, I noticed that some of the the Polish consonants are similar to those found in Mandarin Chinese. For example: Polish c [ts] = Mandarin c, as in 次 Polish ć […]

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Unintentional questions

In many languages a raising inflection at the end of a statement makes it into a question. A post I read the other day on Invading Holland discusses the authors’ struggles with the Dutch language. Particularly the way he adds a raising inflection to the ends of statements, not because he want to make them […]

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Speaking with a foreign accent

I came across an interesting post today over on David Crystal’s blog about foreign accents. He believes that as long as other people can understand what you say in a foreign language, it doesn’t really matter if you speak it with a non-native accent. In fact your accent conveys your identity. He states that “it […]

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Hypercorrection happens when people try to avoid making one type of ‘error’ in speech or writing, but overcompensate and apply the corrections to too many words. For example, those who habitually ‘drop’ their h’s sometimes add an h an just about any word beginning with a vowel when trying to speak ‘proper’. One case of […]

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Dropping letters

George Bernard Shaw once said: “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman despise him” Shaw, an Irish man, was to some extent poking fun at the English, but there certainly is some truth in his statement. English speakers have been complaining about the way other people speak […]

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