Archive for the Category: Pronunciation

Pronouncing foreign words

In his essay, England your England, George Orwell wrote of the English working class: Even when they are obliged to live abroad for years they refuse either to accustom themselves to foreign food or to learn foreign languages. Nearly every Englishman of working-class origin considers it effeminate to pronounce a foreign word correctly. I’ve encountered […]

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Forvo is a site I heard about recently which contains recordings of tens of thousands of words, phrases and names in over 70 languages. The site is free to use and anyone can submit recordings, which means that their quality varies quite a bit. It looks like it has potential to become a useful language […]

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Articulatory Phonetics

Today I came across an online collection of recorded exercises from W. Smalley’s Manual of Articulatory Phonetics. The exercises are design to help distinguish different types of sounds based on their point of articulation, articulators, manner of articulation, or point and manner of articulation. This looks useful if you have the book, and quite useful […]

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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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