75

Still (/stɪl/) and steel (/sti:l/) are distinguishable. The vowel sounds in these two words are different. Steal and Steel (/sti:l/) are homophones and are pronounced exactly the same. However, the words are, in this case, easily identified by grammar. In this sentence, "steal" is a verb and "steel" is a noun. "Steel" as a verb cannot take "steal" (as a ...


67

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 The pronunciation of 'iron' in standard varieties of English is EYE-URN (BrE: /'aɪən/, AmE: /'aɪrn/) and not EYE-RUN (which is also a common pronunciation of 'iron' in some varieties of English) because of a very common process called Metathesis. It's defined as the transposition/rearrangement of letters, syllables or phonemes (sounds) in a word. 𝐸...


64

It's an example of medial cluster reduction. The t was once pronounced but in the 17th century, the t in some words was dropped whenever it was preceded by a fricative (/f/, /v/, /s/, /θ/ etc) and followed by a sonorant (/l/, /m/, /n/ etc). Examples: In 'often', the t is preceded by /f/ which is a fricative and followed by /n/ which is a sonorant. In '...


61

Most native English speakers you hear will effortlessly pronounce the th digraph you're having trouble with. While there are some dialects of English that pronounce it /d/ or /t/ or /f/ depending on position, standard pronunciations in the US and UK pronounce it "normally" and that is what you should strive to emulate if you want to sound like a native ...


52

All "standard" accents maintain the sounds /θ/ and /ð/ It will definitely stand out if you can't pronounce the "th" sounds (there are two, the voiceless version /θ/ and the voiced version /ð/). For adult native English speakers with a standard accent, it comes completely naturally and it doesn't take any special effort to pronounce these sounds. A non-...


44

There are always some people who are exceptions, but yes, native English speakers in general do clearly and easily distinguish these sounds. I'm not a linguist, but from what I've read and seen it tends to be fairly common that native speakers of a language will easily distinguish phonetic differences that affect meaning, while ignoring those that don't. I'...


37

I believe that schwa (ə) is something a bit mysterious to many ELLs. The number of questions here, at EL&U, and around the web seems to indicate so. If you are learning English as a second language, and your language has no such concept as schwa, I hope my answer may help you a little. If you look up words in dictionary, soon you will find this "...


37

Context is the key to understanding. If your reader or conversation partner understands you are talking about someone or something with a habit of misappropriating steel, then it is perfectly reasonable to say they still steal steel or steal steel still. If they do not have that context, they you may need to explain it. Most native speakers of English will ...


29

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 I don't know how it was pronounced in the past, but it must have been /ˈθriː.pɛ.ni/ (THREE.PE.NI) at some point, which is a three-syllable word having a 'tense' vowel in its first syllable, meaning it's a prime candidate for Trisyllabic Laxing. It's a process whereby a long vowel/diphthong is shortened if two or more syllables follow: */ˈθriː.pɛ....


27

Short answer There are rules regarding what kind of sounds go together and where can they be found. Those rules are called 'Phonotactic rules' (or 'Phonotactic constraints'). If we used a single pronunciation for the -s endings in every situation, we would get ill-formed sequences of sounds, therefore we use three different sounds for the -s in order to ...


23

English speakers distinguish these sounds almost perfectly. Certainly with well over 99% accuracy. As pointed out in another post here, any phonemes that create a difference in meaning in a language (in a substantial number of environments) will be clearly and reliably distinguished by native speakers. If you are a Japanese speaker planning to speak ...


22

English has a lot more vowels than most languages, so most learners need to re-train their ears to recognize the additional vowels. In both British English and American English, the difference between ball and bowl is small, but significant. It is easy for native speakers to recognize because their ears are trained to do so. In ball, the vowel is a long ...


20

I would say that not only do most native speakers have no problem distinguishing them, but that they sound so different that the idea of mixing them is surprising and therefore somewhat comical (sometimes, unfortunately so, as in stereotypical mockery of Asian speakers). Short of speech impediment, no native speaker mixes these letters. Children sometimes ...


20

I grew up with the 12-sided 3d coin. We did not call it "threepence" but "thruppence" with the u pronounced according to your dialect, sometimes as e. A penny, tuppence, thruppence. However that does not mean nobody ever said "three pence" or "three pennies". Since three is plural, it was pence not penny, except when ...


19

There is African-American Vernacular English. The th sound appears to be used more rarely (if ever): When occurring in the beginning of a word, the th- sound is pronounced as a d- sound. example: this, they, that --> dis, dey, dat Within a word, -th (unvoiced) is frequently pronounced as an f sound. This also occurs at the end of the ...


19

In 1988, research by J. C. Wells for the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary showed that only 27% of British English speakers pronounce the "t". Subsequently, 1993 research showed that only 22% of Americans pronounce the "t". Whether things have changed in the subsequent thirty years I don't know. The major dictionaries include both ...


16

When we make a voiced sound, for example a vowel sound, our vocal cords vibrate. This gives the sound pitch. We can make voiced sounds with a high pitch or a low pitch. For this reason, you can sing a tune using a [z] sound. You cannot do this, for example, with an unvoiced sound like [s]. We don't vibrate our vocal folds for an [s] sound, so it has no ...


15

(The following adopts the common convention of using slashes to denote phonemes and square brackets to denote phonetic realizations.) Background Japanese speakers' inability to distinguish /r/ and /l/ in English lies in the difference between the two languages' phonological systems. English distinguishes /l/, a consonant articulated with the air from the ...


15

In some regional accents it is /aɪrən/, but this is rare enough in most regions that people may never have come across it and will consider it an error, so learners aren't advised to pronounce it that way. In the 15th century, spelling variants included "irn". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the standard pronunciation shows "loss ...


14

Some do, some don't. Even one person's pronunciations can shift depending on the situation. I pronounce months /mʌnθs/, with the θ. I think most people I know personally also pronounce the θ. But not all. When I hear it without the θ, I cringe (inwardly). To my ear, that sounds sloppy. There are also some East-coast regional accents that make it /mʌnts/. I'...


12

Unlike some languages, like Hindi and German, /w/ and /v/ are different phonemes in English, and you cannot replace one with the other (except if you're speaking 19th century Cockney, the way Charles Dickens has some of his characters speak, where they were indeed merged). Nearly all native speakers of English in the U.S. and the U.K. pronounce them ...


11

I don't think most native speakers experience any such difficulty; but the fact is, distinguishing phonemes is only a small part of understanding speech. Every speaker has his or her own way of pronouncing sounds; a good deal of our speech-processing faculty goes to "normalizing" these pronunciations. Speech is also full of interruptions, false starts, ...


11

The standard accent for Irish native speakers of English does not use /θ/ and /ð/. In novels Irish people are often depicted as invariably replacing /θ/ and /ð/ by /t/ and /d/, but that is described as a misconception in this account of the phonology of Irish English produced by the University of Duisburg-Essen. Under the heading "Misconceptions about Irish ...


11

The standard pronuncation of 'bathed' in both British English and American English is /beɪðd/. In Southern British English, 'bath' (noun) is pronounced [bɑːθ] while the verb 'bathe' is pronounced [beɪð]. The voiced 'th' [ð] is a remnant of Old English. And in Old English, it was a result of Intervocalic Fricative Voicing. It's not correct to omit the final d ...


10

The word "go" has a vowel that ends in the sound [ʊ]. When words that end in this sound are followed by another vowel, we like to put a small /w/ sound in between to separate out the two vowel sounds. So for "go outside" or "go upstairs", you will probably hear a native speaker say something like "go woutside" and "go wupstairs". There is no problem in ...


10

As a rule of thumb, the prefix ex- is pronounced with /ks/ when the prefix is stressed.: 'excellent 'exit 'exile 'execute When this prefix is not stressed, then if the first sound in the root (the part after the prefix) begins with a voiced sound, the prefix will be pronounced with /gz/: ex'am ex'asperate ex'actly ex'ist This is still true, of course if ...


10

I have heard Newfoundlanders in Canada replace the "th" sound with "t" as "tree" instead of "three" or "Tursday" instead of "Thursday." But to help you learn to pronounce it properly, I am ESL teacher and I often used the attached image to help my students learn the correct placement of the teeth and tongue. Look at the image while saying "th" words. Use a ...


10

We do indeed need to pronounce plural, 3rd person and possessive S as described in the Original Posters question. In other words it is realised as an /s/ after unvoiced consonants, and as a /z/ in other situations (after vowels or after voiced consonants). However! When a /z/ occurs before silence or before an unvoiced consonant (i.e. when it doesn't have a ...


8

A "t" which follows a fricative consonant is often (but not always) silent. Here are some examples from "pronunciation studio" -ften: often, soften -sten: listen, glisten, hasten, fasten, moisten, christen, chasten -stle castle, nestle, pestle, apostle, thistle, whistle, wrestle, gristle And in other situations the /t/ is dropped when ...


8

Try pronouncing two words, first "change" and then "do", with a little pause. Then practice saying them with a smaller and smaller pause, until you are saying "changedo". Then drop the "o".


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