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Maybe, this is a strange question. Maybe not the place...

In the song titled "Are you gonna go my way", you can find the same sentence being pronounced too fast for me. I think I know how to pronounce that sentence, but I can not match it to the song. I mean, he speaks something like "either go my way", but that is not what people say he says...

Well, could somebody, please, explain to me how we go from "are you gonna go my way" to something like "either go my way"?

Here a link to youtube, find it at 1:05.

EDIT: I finally got it thanks to both of you and this link. It helped a lot to be able to see his mouth with a careful explanation of the pronunciation. Also, I slowed it down 50% and then back to normal speed. Thanks again!

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  • Please post a link. – Colin Fine Mar 26 '20 at 12:27
  • Done, thank you. – Anton Mar 26 '20 at 16:29
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Firstly, as a native speaker the line is clearly "Are you gonna go my way?".

Often in songs, one syllable will correspond to one note. In this case, both "are you" and "gonna" correspond to one note each while having two syllables. This makes the singing twice as fast as the other words ("go my way").

  1. "are you" is pronounced /ˈɑ.jə/ because the word "you" is not emphasised. Normally in American speech "are" is pronounced /ɑɹ/, but because he's singing it so fast the /ɹ/ ("r") gets dropped, which is normal in parts of the English speaking world with non-rhotic accents. American accents are mostly rhotic, which means they always pronounce their "r"s.

    /j/ ("y") is a semivowel and in some words is almost indistinguishable from /i/ ("ee"). "either" is pronounced /ˈaɪ.ðə(ɹ)/ ("eyether") or /ˈiː.ðə(ɹ)/ ("eether"). You might be hearing /ɑj/ as /aɪ/ or /iː/. With the /ə/ (no standard spelling, ~"a") at the end, you might hear "eye-a"/"a-ee-a" and think it's "either".

  2. "gonna" is slang for "going to". "going to" is pronounced /ˈɡɔ.ɪŋ.tə/ because the word "to" is not emphasised. In "gonna", /ɪŋ/ ("ing") is reduced to /n/ ("n") and /tə/ ("to", ~"ta") is reduced to /ə/ (no standard spelling, ~"a") giving /ˈɡɔ.nə/.

    I can't explain why you seemingly don't hear this word, since hearing "either" for "are you" seems completely explained as above.

Since your profile says you're in Galicia, Spain, I will assume you speak Galician. According to Wikipedia, Galician phonology has no consonant /j/, although /j/ is found in diphthongs (a two vowel sound starting on one vowel and ending on the other) such as /aj/ ("caixa"). Galician also has /θ/ ("macio", "cruz"). Since /j/ is always the last sound of a Galician diphthong, you are used to hearing a consonant after it.

In English, /j/ is usually a consonant so is almost always followed by a vowel. Since you want to hear a consonant, I think you hear a /θ/ where none exists, although the sound in "either" is actually /ð/. The difference between [θ] and [ð] is that [θ] is unvoiced and [ð] is voiced. Wikipedia doesn't list /ð/ as a phoneme in Galician, although it does give a few sample words with /ð/ in them ("corda", "couberdes", etc.). It's possible that in Galician [ð] is an allophone of [d].

What is sung is /ˈɑ.jəˈɡɔ.nə ɡoʊ maɪ weɪ/, which is quite different from /ˈaɪ.ðə ɡoʊ maɪ weɪ/ and /ˈiː.ðə ɡoʊ maɪ weɪ/.

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  • First, with this post and the second link I added, I finally got it!. Very grateful for this! (However, see my second comment about Galician ;) ). Just a final question, I think I don't hear the /n/, for me it is like an /ɹ/ (maybe this is not the right symbol, I am new to IPA), like more in the front of the mouth with the tip of the tongue. But if you say it is an /n/ I will agree. – Anton Mar 29 '20 at 17:12
  • Since you dare to talk about Galician, I have to say this: yes, we have neither 'j' nor 'k' as symbols in our alphabet, but some people use 'j' it to represent a sound similar to /x/ that shows up in some dialects. On the other hand, there are two possible diphthongs ending in /j/ or /w/ (/aj/,/aw/,/ej/,/ew/, etc...). Not sure about /d/ vs /ð/, but I will check as I understand a bit more about IPA (so, take all my references to IPA symbols with a grain of salt). – Anton Mar 29 '20 at 17:23
  • ...but as pointed here, the right way to write down the gheada is 'gh' – Anton Mar 29 '20 at 17:44
  • @oxuf IPA uses the same symbols for all languages. It doesn't matter that the Galician alphabet doesn't have J, K, W, or Y. You have the sound /k/ in C and Q, and /j/ in I when it's the second part of a diphthong. U has the sound /w/ as the second part of a diphthong. /y/ is a sound found in French, but not in Galician or English. So the Galician and English alphabets only have a loose connection to IPA. – CJ Dennis Mar 29 '20 at 22:14
  • [ɹ] is the sound of R in English. Galician uses [r] and [ɾ] for R instead. Some English speakers use [ɾ] instead of [d] or [t] in certain words when spoken quickly, such as "butter": /ˈbʌɾə(ɹ)/, "twenty": /ˈtʰʍɛ**ɾ̃**i/. [n], [d], and [t] all have the tongue in the same part of the mouth, so you could be hearing [ɾ] there. You shouldn't hear [ɹ]. It's possible that you're hearing [n] (nasal) as [ɾ] (non-nasal) which you interpret as [d] or [ð] (which has the tongue much lower, touching the teeth) to hear "th", but it's a bit of a stretch. Do you hear the /ɡ/ in "gonna"? – CJ Dennis Mar 29 '20 at 22:28
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I am a bit of a novice when it comes to IPA transcriptions, but I would tentatively suggest aju gənə - and as a native speaker, to be honest, Lenny's pronunciation here does not seem unusual, distorted, misleading or hard to discern at all. Playing around with Wikipedia's IPA vowel chart with audio, compared to my own accent his initial vowel is more open and fronted, I think. His is more towards an a or æ whereas my own would be closer to ɑ. I can see how you could also hear it as the of either. The "r" in "are" is non existent, which is normal for me, but not in all accents, see Rhoticity in English. Those are the two main things that I can notice which may go some way to explaining why you hear "either". But ultimately, I definitely hear four syllables in aju gənə, which I cannot map to the two syllables of "either".

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    And he sings "areyougonna go my way?" very quickly, running the first three words into a single word. – CJ Dennis Mar 27 '20 at 2:38
  • I understand what you say stevekeiretsu. But my doubt is more related to what @CJDennis just said: I think it would be useful for me to have that sentence at different speeds... I don't know if that is possible... I tried to slow it down on youtube, but I still don't catch it, I can pronunce it fast, but it does not sound as the original... – Anton Mar 27 '20 at 16:02
  • for me "yougonna" sounds like a soft vibration, like a 'r'... – Anton Mar 27 '20 at 16:14
  • @oxuf The singing is very fast, but as a native speaker it's clearly "are you gonna" with no spaces between, not "either". – CJ Dennis Mar 27 '20 at 22:37
  • I have no doubt it is like that, but at this moment it is hard to me... this is not the first time however. Thank you. – Anton Mar 28 '20 at 22:43

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