Hot answers tagged

76

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 ...


71

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 The reason why the vowels in the first syllables of 'south' and 'southern' are different is Trisyllabic Laxing (TSL) which was a phonological rule back in Old and Middle English. It's a process whereby a long vowel/diphthong is shortened if two or more syllables follow. 'Southern' was a three-syllable word when TSL applied to it. TSL shortened the ...


64

This has everything to do with the following: The language of origin of the word and The point at which the word entered the English language. The reason that the words "light" and "might" and "site" have a diphthong is because they were present in spoken English during the Great Vowel Shift, which started in the 1400s and ...


51

In English, the pronunciation of the is based on the sound of the following letter, not which letter it's written with. University is pronounced with a "y" or [j] in IPA, which in English acts as a consonant at the beginning of a word. In some languages [j] acts as a vowel, but not in English. Therefore, "thuh".


43

This has to do with English stress patterns and prosody. English stress patterns are enormously complex and have many, many, many exceptions. TL;DR 'Bicycle' has a short vowel in its second syllable because the prefix bi- is a stress-bearing prefix and can take primary stress (prominence). So when the primary stress moves from the cy to bi-, the cy gets ...


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

There isn't a relatively simple explanation, I'm afraid. As you've pointed out, there are more exceptions-to-rules than than there are rules; however, there are some general guidelines that might help you: before double consonants before double consonants, 'i' is usually short regardless of its position in a word: as in bitten, hidden, miffed, bigger, piggy,...


26

This is not a substitution of me for my but a common dialectal pronunciation of my (Northern England and some Australian accents). According to Wikipedia, other areas of the North have regularised the pronouns in the opposite direction, with meself used instead of myself. Moreover, the vowel in 'me' (the one you're referring to) is shorter ([mi]) than that ...


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 ...


16

"Elite" is a French borrow-word (élite). The 'i' is pronounced as in the French words égalité and fraternité. English is a Germanic language but with many words derived from Latin. This is mainly credited to the Norman conquest of England which created two classes of people, one speaking a Germanic language and another speaking a Latin language. It ...


15

No, they do not sound the same to native speakers. There's a striking difference between 'were' and 'wore'. British English Were: In British English, 'were' in its strong form (or slow speech) is pronounced with the open-mid central unrounded vowel /ɜː/. In its weak form, it's pronounced with a schwa /ə/. Wore: It's pronounced with the open-mid back rounded ...


14

There's often not much point in asking why a word has a particular pronunciation. There's rarely any logic or pattern. Recycle is a word recently created (1920s, but only being used in its modern meaning in the 1960s). It means "cycle again" and the suffix "-cycle" has the same meaning as the word (meaning to go around). Bicycle is ...


12

You seem to be mixing up two rules here. We use an instead of a when the next word starts with a vowel sound. Indeed, 'a ear' would sound clumsy, so we say 'an ear'. We do not use an instead of the; the English have no problem at all saying 'The ice is thick' or 'The ears of a cat are fluffy' (in fact, I would be hard-pressed to find a sentence with 'an ...


9

/i:/ is the vowel that we find in the word FLEECE. I put that word in capitals because that is how that vowel is often referred to by linguists: the fleece vowel - or FLEECE for short. (This is not random, the word was specifically chosen for a number of specific reasons.) It is the vowel sound at the end of the word guarantee. In transcriptions of British ...


7

Finite is pronounced ['faɪnaɪt] while infinite is pronounced [ˈɪnfɪnɪt]. So why is the vowel in the first syllable of 'finite' different from the vowel in the second syllable of 'infinite'? OK, it's not because of Trisyllabic Laxing, I made an erroneous assumption which I deeply regret. The answer is actually simple. As Luigi Burzio explains in Principles of ...


7

Void has an amazing and thorough answer. I would add one further point, which is that the weird patterns of the laxing make a whole lot more sense if recognize that it occurred in English before the Great Vowel Shift, which kept the short vowels sort of similar, and the utterly messed up the long vowels. In Old and Middle English, a "long vowel" ...


7

Short Answer: In English, we often stress the first syllable of nouns; the second syllable for verbs. "I went to the store and bought a RECord." "I went to the studio to reCORD my new album." BIcycle is a noun; reCYCLE is a verb.


6

This is closely related to an earlier question, which I think it would repay you to consult. What is in play here is varying realizations and transcriptions of a close rounded reduced vowel: a vowel representing a stem which is not only unstressed but 'bleached' of much of its distinctive character. For historical reasons, some dictionaries and ...


6

/i:/ is the vowel that we find in the word FLEECE. I put that word in capitals because that is how that vowel is often referred to by linguists: the fleece vowel - or FLEECE for short. (This is not random, the word was specifically chosen for a number of specific reasons.) It is the vowel sound at the end of the word guarantee. In transcriptions of British ...


6

The umbrella The apple The idea. As an American speaker, I pronounce all of these as "thuh" -- in fact, in normal conversation I blend the vowel sounds together to make one sound: thuhmbrella thuhapple thuhidea. I going to have to suggest that thuh "English Club" is not thuh definitive source for all things English. There is a wide ...


6

There are several issues here. /j/ and /w/ are phonologically consonant sounds in English Yes, the semivowels /j/ and /w/ are classified as consonant sounds in English, even though phonetically they are like vowels. That’s just how English works. This applies most noticeably to the a/an rule: we say “a year,” “a university,” “a woman,” “a one-time deal” and ...


6

Gripe -> /ɡraɪp/ Grape -> /ɡreɪp/ This is how they're pronounced in both General American English and Southern British English. Gripe -> [ɡɹʷaɪp] Grape -> [ɡɹʷeɪp] This is how I pronounce both the words (it's a detailed transcription). Grape has the same vowel as mate, fate, weight -> [eɪ] Gripe has the same vowel as might, fight, white -> ...


6

𝑇𝐿;𝐷𝑅 'Wind' (n) and 'wind' (v) had the same vowel in Old English. Both had a short vowel /i/ which was lengthened in Late OE due to a sound change triggered by consonant clusters such as /nd, ld, mb, rd/ etc. The vowel in 'wind' (n) got shortened in the seventeenth century for some reasons. The short and long vowels in 'child' and 'children' can also be ...


5

Umlaut: Pronunciation: (UK) IPA(key): /ˈʊm.laʊt/, /ˈʌm.laʊt/ (US) IPA(key): /ˈʊm.laʊt/, /ˈum.laʊt/


5

I, for one, hear a significant difference between "still" and "steal" or "steel". I would call the vowel sound that I make, and typically hear, in "still" a "short-I", while I would call the vowel sound in "steal" or "steel" a "long-e". There are, I am sure, more technically correct terms for these sounds. To help clarify, to me "Still" rhymes with "hill" ...


5

It is very common to avoid pronouncing the long "ai" sound in "my" when speaking fast and/or informally. Some people use a schwa as in "I've lost mə keys." In Britain a short "i" sound is common, e.g. "I've lost mi keys." My guess is that Gallagher said "...lost mi pants" rather than "lost me (...


5

This is because of weird stress patterns of English. The stress patterns of English are very complex. Sense is a monosyllabic (one-syllable) word and is stressed, so the vowel is pronounced /ɛ/ and does not get reduced to a weak vowel (schwa). However, when you prepend the prefix non to sense, the primary stress moves from the second syllable of 'nonsense (i....


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible