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Maciamo
06-03-05, 07:45
I stumbld across this very interesting article about Phonemic differentiation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary-marry-merry_merger) and was wondering how all of you spoke English. Of course I could guess from your place of origin, but sometimes it isn't clear, like in my English.

For example, although I am not Irish, Welsh or Liverpudlian, I tend to differentiate the pronunciation of of "pane" and "pain".

Otherwise, my accent is probably closer to Southern British English or RP. I do merge the following sounds : pour-poor, toe-tow, horse-hoarse (all the long "o") and whine-wine.
But I certainly do NOT merge those sounds : father-bother, start-north, lot-cloth (how could that be pronounced the same way !) or furry-hurry.

As for most English people my "a" in words like bath, rather, after, can't, fast, half, calf are long to rhyme with "father" and not "trap". However, I found myself to shorten my "a" in such words as "example", "chance" and "branch" (basically those preceded by a "n" or "m") after listenning to too many American people or movies. So I sometimes say "exaaample" (mostly talking to British people), but find myself saying "exaemple" with other people.

Likewise, I have come to merge mary-marry-merry like Americans, although I used not to.

Has anyone of you experienced such pronunciation change ?

isayhello
06-03-05, 20:59
*didn't understand the article but has read it still*
This applies to native speakers only, right?

Sensuikan San
07-03-05, 02:58
An intriguing question, and a subject that has fascinated me for some time. My wife and I have discussed this one on several occasions since we left the UK to live in North America many years ago.

It would appear that our accents have changed over the years. This has, naturally, been emphasized (emphasised ? .... spelling changed too .... !) by the daily adoption of many 'non-British' terms and expressions.

It's very hard for me to notice it in myself - I think I sound just the same, but I have noticed a few changes nevertheless.

When I lived in the UK, I spoke with what could be called an "East Midlands drawl" - bearing, I am told, a slight similiarity to an Australian accent, but not so broad and strong as a London "Cockney". People still, sometimes, think I'm an "Aussie"!

But having changed location I find that my pronunciation has 'shifted' over the years, so that "mate" has become something in between "meet" and "mite". I now, most noticibly, pronounce "New" as "Noo", and of course, I use "tomayto" rather than "tomahto" all the time without thinking about it ! I also sense that I draw out my o's in words like coffee - which comes out "cawfee" (not quite native New Yorker .... but getting there!).

... I must sound awful !

The curious thing is that friends always tell me that I "haven't lost my accent" - whereas old friends from the UK tell me that I "sound so American" ....! I guess I'm stuck somewhere in Mid-Atlantic !

But the most fascinating thing, to me, is the way I hear English !

If I listen to British folks talking .... they sound .... so British ! Ridiculous, but true. I actually hear it as a "foreign" accent ! Please don't tell her - but my wife's sisters, on the telephone, sound hilariously strange !

....of course, .... they always did .... !

Regards,

W

lexico
07-03-05, 06:47
My English is basically Southern Californian with some Northern influence if there is such a distinction. I was meaning to get some IPA symbols but unfortunately they wouldn't display correctly. I'll do without it; wordy though.

bad-lad split: No split as in British, and long. In broad transcription /bae:d, lae:d/

cot-caught merger: Completely merged but the vowel quality is neither frontal nor back but ditincly "medial." I tried the voice files in your wiki-link, but neither adequately matches my /a/. In broad transcription /ka:t/ with long low-medial /a:/.

father-bother merger: Completely merged; In broad transcription /fa:ther, ba:ther/ with long low-medial /a:/.

furry-hurry merger: Completely merged; In broad transcription /[email protected]/ with short mid-medial /@/ which is the stressed schwa.

wh->w glide cluster reduction: Incomplete; mostly /w/ as in who, when, why, why, where, but my whine is /hwain/, whip is /hwip/, and overwhelm is /ouverhwem/, whore /hwo:r/ for some odd reason.

Cj->C glide cluster reduction: Incomplete; mostly /C/ as in clue, dune, flute, glue, sue, suit, supermarket, but some retain the /j/ glide as in cute, dew, dude, ewe, few, lewd, leuchemia, meow, mute, new, nuke, pneumonia, puke, que, tune.

horse-hoarse merger: Completely merged; In broad transcription /ho:rs/
horse/hoarse, for/four, war/wore, or/oar, corps/core, morning/mourning likewise.

pane/pain and toe/tow long mid mergers: Completely merged.

lot-cloth split by lengthen of the short o before voiceless fricatives like th: Completely merged. thought, joss, Goth, cross, sauce, soft all have the long low-medial /a:/.

American English raising extended to vowels before all ŋ and some g, k: Complete. /la:ŋ/ for long, /tcha:klit/ for chocolate, and /da:g/ for dog, again with the long-low medial /a:/.

Mary-marry-merry merger: Certainly not. As far as I know, the short-midhigh /e/ in merry and the long-low high /ae:/ in Mary and the short-low high /ae/ in marry are all clearly distinguished in Californian English. The confusion might be accounted for by the frequent seaonal greeting "Merry Christimas" exaggeratingly shouted by elongating the /meri/ to sound like /me:ri/. To say /mae:ri/ for merry is quite irregular and unfounded according to my observations. Maybe some cockneyed Hollywood actors might do it on purpose, but I can't explain why.

(Wikipedia says: The historical "long a", "short a", and "short e" classes all come to be pronounced the same before r. The merger is absent from many dialects of the northeastern United States, including those of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In accents that don't have the merger, Mary has the a sound of mare, marry has the a sound of mat and merry has the e sound of met. For some American speakers, two of the three categories (Mary, marry, and merry) are merged but the third remains distinct.)

In my accent without the three-way merger, the following pairs of words are not homophones at all:

fairy - ferry e: - e
carry - Kerry ae: -e
dairy - derry e: - e
Harry - hairy ae: -e:

pour-poor merger: incomplete. pour-poor are homophonously /po:r/ but moor and more are distinct, /[email protected]/-/[email protected]/. tour and tore distinct. (Wiki says that In England, on the other hand, the merger is widespread among all social classes.)

start-north merger: None. card/cord, barn/born and far/for all distinct.

/th/ fronting becoming /f/: None. /th/ fronting is applied, pairs such as three/free, slither/sliver, and oath/oaf are homophonous. Not in my accent, but an unrelated sound jumping exists in the Russian version of Theodore-> Fyodor. Some ESL/EFL students would often confuse the /th/ sounds with the /f/.

trap-bath split: None. after, chance, branch, example, rather, bath, pass', fast, can't, past, half, calf, answer all pronounced with /ae:/.

Sakari
07-03-05, 08:42
Er... I don't really have much to add here... but my sister, oddly, says "sanguich" and it really bugs me X_X

lexico
07-03-05, 13:24
Haaaa...sanguich is cute. How old is your baby sister ? :p

lexico
12-03-05, 19:06
Mary-marry-merry merger: Certainly not. As far as I know, the short-midhigh /e/ in merry and the long-low high /ae:/ in Mary and the short-low high /ae/ in marry are all clearly distinguished in Californian English. The confusion might be accounted for by the frequent seaonal greeting "Merry Christimas" exaggeratingly shouted by elongating the /meri/ to sound like /me:ri/. To say /mae:ri/ for merry is quite irregular and unfounded according to my observations. Maybe some cockneyed Hollywood actors might do it on purpose, but I can't explain why.

(Wikipedia says: The historical "long a", "short a", and "short e" classes all come to be pronounced the same before r. The merger is absent from many dialects of the northeastern United States, including those of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In accents that don't have the merger, Mary has the a sound of mare, marry has the a sound of mat and merry has the e sound of met. For some American speakers, two of the three categories (Mary, marry, and merry) are merged but the third remains distinct.)

In my accent without the three-way merger, the following pairs of words are not homophones at all:

fairy - ferry e: - e
carry - Kerry ae: -e
dairy - derry e: - e
Harry - hairy ae: -e:Although I still believe that Californian accent as I know it still preserves the three way distinction of

e: - ae: - e

I must admit that some of my readings (Mary-marry-merry) did not reflect actual speech sounds in the sample words used for illustration.

Mary - marry - merry, vowelwise, should actually sound like

e: - ae: - e:

This is because a short /e/ followed by an /r/ is always elongated. Phonetically such predictable sound alternations should be considered allophonic, ie. the same phoneme showing predictable (complementary) distribution. Nevertheless, these show distinct phonological realizations, and hence are considered different sounds of different qualtiies.

fairy should be /ae:/, hence fairy - ferry ae: - e
Kerry should be /e:/.
derry should be /e:/, so dairy - hairy should rhyme perfectly.

Maciamo
13-03-05, 03:33
I must admit that some of my readings (Mary-marry-merry) did not reflect actual speech sounds in the sample words used for illustration.

Mary - marry - merry, vowelwise, should actually sound like

e: - ae: - e:

That's also how its works for me. Theoretically Mary is e, but in fact e:


fairy should be /ae:/, hence fairy - ferry ae: - e
Kerry should be /e:/.
derry should be /e:/, so dairy - hairy should rhyme perfectly.

For me Kerry and derry are always short "e". ;-)

Index
13-03-05, 04:19
I grew up in Australia so that's where my English comes from. In Japan my accent must have changed because I had native English speakers asking if I was from England, and a few times if I was American (which really surprised me). I guess the changes came from three things; firstly making an effort to speak clearly and "correctly" as a teacher (though later in my teaching career I realised that wasn't necessarily good for the student), secondly meeting native English speakers from all over the globe and picking up their pronunciation (often on purpose as I tried to sound different for fun), and thirdly doing a English learning TV programme for a year where I had to speak in an American accent. Now I suspect things have returned to normal in terms of accent, since I've been back in Australia for over a year, but I continue to use phrases which might be more identified with British, rather than Australian English.

Listening back to myself on the TV programme was funny, though a little embarrassing actually, since in the beginning my American accent was very inconsistent, and I had trouble with words where there were a lot of d's.

sgt. Pepper
13-03-05, 05:01
I can't speak english very well, i can make myself understood pretty easily, but that's about it. But i don't really try to 'sound' english.

Mycernius
13-03-05, 22:47
I'm from the midlands, near Birmingham. Fortunalty in my town we don't have the brummie speech pattern. The nearest city is actually Coventry. I have been told that I am quite well spoken and people are usually surprised when I tell them where I am from. I did spend most of my childhood being corrected by my father with certain words eg: haven't instead of ain't. The strange thing is that I do speak differently from my brother. I do use the long 'a' sound in words such as bath, mast, cast; while my brother uses the short 'a' sound. I can become dreadfully English when I want to, especially with my Canadian relatives. I can still use the local Brummie though such as Kipper tie and Tinturn abbey, 'tis. Anybody who knows the brummie accent can tell you what it is like.

Mycernius
13-03-05, 22:50
*didn't understand the article but has read it still*
This applies to native speakers only, right?
I wouldn't really think so. Foriegn accents can sound so nice. Scandinavian accents seen to have a sing song lilt to them.

Damicci
14-03-05, 04:08
Hmm. I think the difference is going to be sentence context and i noticed a change in my tone of voice depending on which word I used.

Oh, that person of there is Mary. No change in tone
Will you marry me? Slight drop in tone
Hey, Merry Christmas to you. Slight increase in tone.

Zauriel
14-03-05, 05:28
I read and write English perfectly but I can barely pronounce English words well because I am Deaf and it has been a long time since I studied speech lessons.