Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Trivia no. 2

Today my students were asked to pronounce several sentences. One student produced this nice variant of a sentence (but don't tell this to any animal rights organisation):
"Try not to breathe through your mouse."

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Is it an orange or an orange?

Listen to these two pronunciations of the word 'orange'. Do both prons (let's call them A and B) end in the cluster /nʤ/ or does A end in /nʒ/?

Here's A:

And B:

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Trivia no. 1

While I was watching TV last night, the word 'flosser' (the film was about whether one should use dental floss or interdental brushes) reminded me of a series I had watched many years ago because flosser rhymes with tosser. Here's one of the sentences uttered by the main character in that series, a sentence which stands for deep thinking. I'm sure some of you will know which series I'm referring to.

/ˈtjuːnɪŋ jɔː tiː ˈviːz laɪk ˈmeɪkɪŋ ˈlʌv tu ə ˈbjuːtəfl̩ ˈwʊmən || ˈfɜːst ju ˈhæf tə ˈfaɪn nə ˈraɪp ˈbʌtn̩ | ən ˈnen ju ˈhæf tə ˈfɪdl̩ wɪð ɪt | ʌnˈtɪl ju ˈget ə ˈdiːsn̩t rɪˈsepʃn̩/

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 10

/f/ - /v/ and fortis clipping:

  1. Does he believe in God?
  2. You need half a pound of butter.
  3. Sharon needs time to grieve after the death of her husband.
  4. The plane'll leave at 12:30.
  5. That cow over there is with calf.
  6. It was a relief to have him out of the house.
  7. My sofa can serve as a bed.
  8. He was overcome with grief because his wife had died.
  9. It’s about half a mile down the road.
  10. I don't believe a word of it.
  11. We've got to halve our aid budget.
  12. I've known her all my life.
  13. This new drug can save our lives.
  14. I leave you to it.
  15. Many people surf the net aimlessly.
  16. Your behaviour was stupid beyond belief.
  17. My dad continued to grieve for his wife.
  18. His grief was obvious.
  19. Nicola was accused of being a thief.
  20. This calf is so cute.
  21. I want my daughter to be in safe hands.
  22. The roles of husbands and wives are different in our society.
  23. We live only a few miles from London.
  24. The Canadian flag contains an eleven-pointed maple leaf.
  25. He aims to halve unemployment.
  26. It's my strongly-held belief that things were better in the past.
  27. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
  28. A fairly odd couple came to live next door to us.
  29. Can you prove it?
  30. The cow will calve in two weeks' time.
  31. Take it or leave it.
  32. She married late in life.
  33. I don't feel safe in my house.
  34. I'll leaf through the book.
  35. You'll save a lot of time if you travel by car.
  36. Proof of the allegation must be by convincing evidence.
  37. Don't waste your time surfing the net.
  38. The waiter'll serve another table first.
  39. The police had no proof that he was guilty. 
  40. A thief had broken into the office.
  41. About one-third of whale calves die in their first year.
  42. Have you met my wife?
  43. They're just petty thieves.
  44. Some men want their wives to stay at home and not take a job.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Stressed Weakform

credit: Japan Times
credit: Cambridge University
 This blog is not about stressed people, but about stressed weakforms (or: weak forms). I found a video in which the speaker - art historian James Fox - uses the conjunction because in the sentence:
"In Japan [cherry] blossom is celebrated not in spite of its transience but because of it."
In this sentence he stresses both spite and because in these multi-word prepositions. In the case of because, however, he does not use the pronunciation typical of the accented (= strongform) version, but an unaccented /bə'kəs/. Listen:

Tuesday, 21 November 2017


In 2001 Oxford University Press published the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English at the fairly decent price  of less than £ 20.00. After more than a decade a second edition has become available, which is now sold by Routledge. The hardback edition costs £ 180.00 - a price that really puts me off. There's no paperback edition available, just an e-book at almost £ 36.00 to be consulted either online or offline. Offering dictionaries online seems to be an increasing trend - like it or not.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 9

This blog is about word-final /ʧ/ and /ʤ/ and pre-fortis clipping.

  1. I have a batch of documents here for you to sign.
  2. We are delighted to have the first batch of products.
  3. I was handed a badge with my name on it.
  4. I see this as a badge of honour.
  5. The eighth letter of the alphabet is the aitch.
  6. In the word heir you drop the aitch.
  7. She's 23 years of age.
  8. Hyacinth is the same age as me.
  9. The bird balanced on a branch of a larch.
  10. The larch is a popular tree species.
  11. The sums of money he had lost were large.
  12. Charities, by and large, do not pay tax.
  13. The police did not ban the march.
  14. She started work last March.
  15. In informal spoken British English margerine is often pronounced marge.
  16. Marjorie and Margaret are often shortened to Marge.
  17. The Nile perch is an edible fish.
  18. A high place where you can watch things is called a perch.
  19. Were there any plans to purge ethnic minorities?
  20. You should purge your hard disks before you leave the company.
  21. She was obviously stinking rich.
  22. The houses in this street belong to the rich and famous.
  23. The sun disappeared behind the ridge.
  24. It was just a small ridge of sand.
  25. Do an online search on ‘rabbit’ and see what it brings up.
  26. It was too dark to search further.
  27. Last year there was a surge in our profits.
  28. Adrenalin will surge through your veins.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Pronunciation exercises for EAL students - no. 8

'Uckly' sounds ugly

Some of my phonetics students tend to replace the consonant sequences /-gl-/, /-gn-/ and /-gr-/ by their partners /-kl-/, /-kn-/ and /-kr-/.
  1. He thinks he's ugly but he's not.
  2. They live in an ugly block of flats.
  3. Jealousy is an ugly emotion.
  4. It's a really ugly picture of me.
  5. Indoctrination is such an ugly word.
  6. The couple are in an ugly fight over who will get the children.
  7. An igloo is a house made from blocks of hard snow or ice.
  8. The house is shaped like a gigantic igloo.
  9. The Inuit word 'igloo' means house.
  10. The evening sky was still aglow.
  11. Her face was aglow with happiness.
  12. The title of Tracey Peterson's book is Hearts Aglow
  13. This chemical will agglutinate the cancer cells.
  14. The virus has lost the ability to agglutinate blood cells. 
  15. When powders are added to liquids, they tend to agglomerate.
  16. After contact, the wetted particles agglomerate rapidly
  17. The candle ignited the plastic. 
  18. These were the events that ignited the war in Europe.
  19. The compound ignites at 450 degrees Celsius.
  20. You can’t ignore the fact that many criminals never go to prison.
  21. Paul left his key in the ignition again.
  22. This is the most likely source of ignition.
  23. The phone rang but they ignored it.
  24. John rudely ignored the question.
  25. Just ignore him and he'll stop pestering you.
  26. The waiter totally ignored Glen. 
  27. He was derided as an unschooled ignoramus.
  28. I don't believe in God - I am an agnostic. 
  29. Dreaming is a highly complex cognitive activity.
  30. This substance is said to enhance cognitive functions.