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'...


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 ...


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 ...


16

In all of these ‘gn’ words the ‘g’ is silent—not pronounced. They all came into English from French fairly early and have been thoroughly ‘naturalized’. Words with ‘gn’ which came into English directly from Latin, such pugnacious, preserve the /g/ sound. But some of these have French-mediated cognates without the /g/—impugn is one such. Signature, although ...


14

(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 ...


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, ...


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

There are various analyses of this. The simplest issue to deal with is "ruin". Quite simply, "ui" doesn't act as a phonogram/digraph in this word. It's simply "u" followed by a separate "i". This sort of thing is common in English: consider that "create" doesn't have the "ea" sound of "leaf" or of "deaf", and "archaic" doesn't have the "ai" sound of "rain"....


8

Yep. You can blame it on the Great Vowel Shift, and all the smaller ones before it (but not after), plus some of the consonants altering themselves to fit a passing craze from time to time. Both words are Germanic, their etymology going back to Middle English to Old English, with no French or Latin influence; it would be safe to assume that the -gh- once ...


8

The letter 'J' usually represents the sound /ʒ/ in French. In English this sound is most often represented by the letter 'S'. A large number of the words that have this sound in actually came to us from Old French. Many of them end in -sure. Here are some examples: leisure, treasure, pleasure. closure, exposure, seizure (yes, that last one is spelled with a ...


7

The indefinite articles ("a" and "an") are the only words in English that require any special written treatment based on the following word's first sound (usually based on the first letter). Occasionally it sounds better to avoid consecutive vowel strings if they make words too hard to distinguish, but there's no formal rule for that, and it's usually easy ...


6

In elementary education (at least in California), /l/ and /r/ are actually something that some (i.e. many) children struggle to pronounce. Generally these children also have trouble distinguishing the phonemes, but don't have any trouble with distinguishing actual words, for which they rely on context. Creating situations where the children cannot rely on ...


6

Generally, yes. But it's not an ability held solely by native English speakers. People with a first language that observes a difference between /l/ and /r/ tend to be able to grasp that difference more easily, and the /l/ and /r/ difference is observed in a number of non-English languages. Similarly, sounds that don't exist, or are far less common, in ...


5

Even though I'm not a native speaker, I can clearly hear the difference, it's much bigger than between, let's say U and Ü! PHYSICALLY L and R can't sound similar, as your tongue has completely different shape in each case! (note: sorry to English language teachers - I don't know the proper terminology) While "L" is pronounced with tip of your tongue ...


4

Yes. Here's a list of all the English words containing /ʒ/ from a computer search, minus varying forms of the same word, words that vary only by a prefix or suffix, and a lot of proper nouns. Most of these are well-known, though there are a few that are rare. abrasion adagio adhesion allusion ambrosia amnesia anaesthesia Anastasia ...


4

The pronunciation of a single vowel letter before a single consonant letter is one of the most complicated and unpredictable parts of English spelling (unless the consonant letter is "x", in which case the vowel is almost always "short"). There are some general tendencies, but many of them have a number of exceptions. Vowel quality in Latinate words As a ...


4

As I said in a comment, the answer to "why" questions about language is usually "Because that's how it is". But it is sometimes possible to give a bit of information about how it got that way. Most instances ('suit', 'fruit') were borrowed from French, and both the spelling and the (original) pronunciation came from French (though the pronunciation has ...


3

You ask is it "suitable". It does have a purpose, but may not be suitable for you. English is sometimes taught (to young native speakers) as having long and short vowel sounds, for example the "short a" [æ] in "ban" compared with the "long a" [eɪ] in "bane". You will notice that the "long a" isn't at all a longer version of the short a, but a dipthong. ...


3

I'm not a native speaker, but me and my many friends do speak English as a second language. It's not a problem for us when we are listening to a native speaker, but it's hard to distinguish L and R when a Korean or Japanese speaks. I remember we mistook a Korean song lyric "ring a ring a ring" for "ling a ling a ling". (song in question: https://www....


3

In connected speech, /ð/ at the start of function words may be assimilated to a preceding consonant in some cases. However, I don't think there are any circumstances where this kind of assimilation always occurs—my impression is that it is gradient. Also, the identity of the preceding consonant probably affects the probability of assimilation. I have found ...


3

xeesid. You need to distinguish between sounds and letters. For English especially, they are very very different. Writing is a technology that has been developed to represent language, but writing systems vary hugely in how they go about representing a language, and how successful they are at doing so. A silent letter has nothing to do with phonology: it ...


2

Okay, I guess I've got it. It says at the beginning of syllable so, "-ti" has to be a part of syllable but not a syllable on its own. When it is syllable on its own as in; op-ti-cal op-ti-mum op-ti-mal then it is pronounced as it is written (ti). But in the words such as; par-tial op-tion di-rec-tion "ti" represents the beginning of the syllable ...


2

"Complete assimilation" usually means that the assimilated sound becomes exactly the same as the sound that it assimilates to. In English, this kind of assimilation is generally optional and occurs more often in fast speech, usually between different words or different parts of compound words. For example, in the word "horse-shoe", the s sound of "horse" ...


2

I beg to differ with the previous answers. It has nothing to do with the etymology/origin of these words. It's a phonological phenomenon. Words that end with 'gn' have the 'g' elided from them because English phonotactics does not allow 'gn' in the coda or onset of a syllable. Short answer: When the 'gn' is followed by a vowel, pronounce the /g/ and /n/...


2

In the weak form "than" and "then" have the same pronunciation with "weak e" (indefinite vowel). Only when stressed "than" is pronounced as æ. http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/than http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/then_1


2

In some dialects of English, many words borrowed from French will keep aspects of their French pronunciation. (The silent 't' in 'denouement'; the silent 'r' in 'foyer', the fricative second 'g' in 'garage', etc.) I can't think of any French words with 'j' that have been borrowed into English, however. There are English words that have the French 'j' ...


2

Place your tongue between your teeth, without actually biting it. Keep your jaws relaxed. Test to see if you can breathe in. Then breathe out. That's the /θ/ phoneme right there. Now all you have to do is add some vibration of your vocal chord while breathing, and you have the /ð/ phoneme. It's the same difference as when shifting from f to v.


2

You might be completely capable of discriminating these two sounds, but not remembering that they use two different letters. Try to pay closer attention and see if that is the case. For example, I know a person who cannot tell whether a colour is blue or turquoise, but when seen side by side, can always identify that the both are different and one is bluer ...


2

As mentioned, there are no pronunciation police to haul you off if you mix your styles - but as a non-native speaker you will already have a 'trade-mark' accent that people will judge your ability on [whether they mean to or not]. Because of that, I would pick a style & stick to it. It's quite likely, depending on the strength of your trade-mark, that ...


2

This may sound strange, but I think you can pronounce them however you like, as long as you realize that your audience will be trying to figure out where you come from. Be consistent and be yourself. Around New York City, the word "better" sounds like "bedder" or even "bedd-uh" depending on who's saying it. On the street it may not matter much, but if you ...


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