2

This question below is from my English book exercise:

Choose the word whose underlined part is pronounced differently from that of the other words

a. exactly
b. exist
c. exhaust
d. extinct

(Because I couldn't underline the part of each word in this post, I made it bold)

After trying reading aloud each word a few times, I couldn't notice any differences of the above 'ex' parts. Then I looked it up in Oxford Dictionary and it showed each word's phonetic transciption like this:

a. exactly /ɪɡˈzæktli/
b. exist /ɪɡˈzɪst/
c. exhaust /ɪɡˈzɔːst/
d. extinct /ɪkˈstɪŋkt/

If the /ɪɡ/ and /ɪk/ are at the end of the word, like 'big' or 'tick', I can see the differences and pronounce them easily. However, in the exercise, it seems to me that the /ɡ/ and /k/ of all the words are canceled or silent.

Could you advise me on whether I'm correct or not in this case?

  • 1
    Keep in mind that pronunciation can vary a lot by region. "Extinct" and "exact" would sound fine to me whether pronounced with /k/ or /g/. – LMS Jan 8 '17 at 16:19
  • 2
    Extinct is the different word, like exterior and exlamation, explanation. – SovereignSun Jan 8 '17 at 16:52
  • 2
    "However, in the exercise, it seems to me that the /ɡ/ and /k/ of all the words are canceled or silent." - I'm not sure what you mean by "canceled or silent", because they definitely make a sound that is very important to the pronunciation of the words. If you just mean that they don't make a difference...they are pronounced similarly, but not exactly the same. "Eggs" and "ex" should sound different. As @TonyK says, one is voiced and one is unvoiced. – stangdon Jan 8 '17 at 17:41
3

A native English speaker pronounces extinct differently from egg stinked (yes I know, that should be egg stank). extinct is pronounced with an unvoiced /k/ sound, and egg stinked with a voiced /g/ sound.

As you remark, there would be hardly any difference in this context if voicing were the only distinction. But in most dialects of English, a syllable-final unvoiced consonant preceded by a vowel is pre-glottalized. In some dialects, notably Cockney, the consonant (especially /t/) can disappear entirely, and all that's left is the glottal stop: "Wha' a lo'" for "What a lot".

See the Wikipedia article on Glottalization for a discussion of this.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.