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26/01/2018PS47 Patience-Taxing Forms#542
04/01/2018Weakforms (xxiii) take, than, that, the, them, then, their, they’re, there#541
21/10/2017Your Nonagenarian Bloggist#540
04/09/2017People Speaking 46 An Unacceptable Gift#539
24/08/2017Weakforms (xxii) shall, shd, shdn't, shdn've, so, somebody, somehow, somewhat, something, sort-of, such, suppose, sure#538
12/07/2017People Speaking 45 The Festive Season#537
14/06/2017Weakforms (xxi) particularly, per, perhaps, probably, really#536
09/06/2017How Shakespeare Spoke#535
13/03/2017People Speaking 44 A la Australienne#534
24/02/2017Somethink Puzzling#533
10/02/2017Weakforms (xx) nobody, no-one, nor, obvious(ly), on, or, our#532
01/02/2017People Speaking 43 Unsung Newsreaders#531

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Blog 542

The 26th of January 2018

PS47 Patience-Taxing Forms

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This entirely unscripted and very unself-conscious scrap of conversation serves well to illustrate why so very little indeed of my OUP book People Speaking cou·d consist of such material. Some of it was so sotto voce as possibly to be classified as muttering to oneself. The four speakers, all professional actors, had plainly quite forgotten that they’d agreed that the recording equipment shd be left on sometimes, between their readings, to record their spontaneous conversation.  
They often speak simultaneously or mumble or tail off into inaudibility. This style of speech must be classified as ‘very casual’. One of them even lets drop a very mild obscenity which the OED labels ‘chiefly coarse slang’ which is ‘considered as below the level of standard educated speech’. Consequently it’s the most diffic·lt of all the PS pieces to transcribe satisfactorily.

1./aɪ `hav ˎpoustɪt ˎmaɪn ɒf | `jes/  I have posted mine off, yes. [The /d/ of posted is phonemically             ambiguous here as also from the next speaker.].
2. /av ˈpəʊstɪt ˈmaɪ ᴧm | r(ɪ)kɔdɪd ˎdɪlɪvərɪ ʤə ˈsi/ I’ve posted my.. um recorded delivery, d’you             see. [The reduction /du ju →dju→dʒu/ʤu/ is very common in relaxed informal speech.]
3. oʊ ˈaɪ wəz `ɡoʊɪŋ tə du ˏðat | ən ˈðen aɪ ˈθɔt | ˌwel `tu / Oh I was going to do that and then I                 thought..Well too…[ This tailing off may or may not be due to an inaudible continuation.]
4. /aɪ wz biŋ a bɪt / I was being a bit [The weakform /biŋ/ simply drops the /ɪ/ from being.]
5. / ˈju ˎdɪdn ´dɪd ju/  You didnt, did you? [The t of didnt and other words ending with -nt is very                 often dropt if no rhythmic break intervenes even in quite formal speech.]
6. / bət ˈaɪ də nəʊ ˈhaʊ | tə ˈfɪl ɪt `ɪn / But I don’t know how to fill it in.
7 /əʊ aɪ `tel ju / Oh! I’ll tell you. [In fairly casual speech the /l/ of I’ll may well be dropt.]
8. /aɪ ˈrɪəli ˈθɪŋk | aɪ ˎnoʊ ˏnaʊ /  I really think I know now.
9. /´wʊʤu / Would you? [Compare the comment at #2.]
10 /ˎm / Mm…An ‘interjection...Expressing satisfaction, approval, or assent’.OED
11. / `oʊ | `br aɪ habm brɔt ɪt `wɪð mi/ [The word but drops its vowel and weakens its t to /r/.  
        The form /habm/ is due to anticipative assimilation to the /b/ of brought.
12. /ats `laɪz | aɪ θɪŋk ɪts `terbl/ That’s lies. I think it’s terrible. [Almost inaudible: no dou·t part of      a different conversation. Note weakforms of that with no /ð/ and terrible with no second vowel.
13. /fɪld ɪn ə ˈhoʊl | `ʃpil ɒn ðə ˏbak/ Filled in a whole spiel on the back. [Note the ʃːpil with                 an expressively drawn out esh of the contemptuously used German loanword ‘spiel’.
14. / `jes bət dɪdju krɒs `aʊt wɒt ðə wəz `prɪntɪd ðɛ /
        Yes but did you cross out what was printed there?
15. / əʊ `ʃɪt | nəʊ aɪ `dɪdnt/ Oh shit! No. I didnt. [Note its spoken faily quietly not shouted.]
16. /ðats `ðɛə | ˈʔaɪ ʔaɪ | kən`tɪnju wɒtev ɪt ɪz/ That’s there. I.. I.. continue whatever it is. [It's very         commonplace to omit the schwa (/ə/) from whatever but much less so the /r/ as well.
17. /aɪ ˈsɜtɪˈfaɪ| ðət ˈaɪ am ə self ɪmplɔɪd ˎpɜsn/ I certify that I am a self-employed person.
18. /aɪ ˈdɪdn ˈtraɪ | aɪ `dɪdnt | oʊ `blᴧdi ˎhel / I didn’t try.. I didn’t..Oh bloody hell!
        That final phrase was ‘Expressing annoyance, anger, or surprise…with intensifying                         adjective...The register of usage ranges from informal to impolite’.OED   


Blog 541

The 4th of January 2018

Weakforms (xxiii) take, than, that, the, them, then, their, they’re, there

This may be reduced from [teɪk͜ʔ] to [teɪʔ] eg in Take that tho strictly speaking not producing a weakform since there is no change of phoneme. But /ˈteɪp `maɪn/ for Take mine or [ˈteɪt̪ `ðat] for Take that may be so classified.
Grammatical monosyllables with initial /ð/
These usually omit it most of the time in babytalk: This is a sympathetic simplified style of articulation (and also grammar and vocabulary) directed chiefly to infants or pet animals in imitation of infant speech.
The full weakform /ðən/ is used if a vocalic sound immediately follows as in more than ever /ˈmɔ ðən `evə/ but most often, before consonants one hears /ðn̩/ as in more than that /`mɔ ðn̩ ðat/.
In completely casual styles all grammatical monosyllabic words beginning with /ð/ tend to display weakforms with their /ð/ elided.
In the case of than there may be reduction to only /n̩/ or even to /n/ in very casual styles eg worse than that may become /ˈwɜs n̩ `at/ and more than I need /ˈmɔ n aɪ `nid/.
Since it is a conjunction than is very rarely ‘stranded’ ie made to end a sentence by itself. An example of a stylisticly very awkward-sounding ellipsis of a word which would normally follow it would be We want something it’s not just as good as but better than. Only in such a context will than take its very rare strongform /ðan/.
While the demonstrative that /ðat/ invariably retains its vowel /a/, the conjunction that in ordinary informal unhesitant etc speech is normally /ðət/ eg I kow that that’s true is /aɪ ˈnəʊ ðət ˈðats `tru/.
While the demonstrative that as /at/ is quite common, in extremely casual speech even its /t/ may be elided leaving it only as /a/ eg as in / `as ˏraɪt / That’s right.
An example of a BBC tv newsreader heard moving to a ‘friendlier’ informal style occurred when the perfectly-GB speaker Sian Williams in the course of signing off a BBC1 News bulletin on the 1st of October 2012 spoke the expression That’s it for now as /ˈats ˈɪt fə ˎnaʊ/.
 An extreme weakening of the phrase `That’s the ˏboy may sometimes be seen represented with spellings like Attaboy classed by OED as ‘slang’.
As the definite article the is almost always closely preposed unstressed to a word. Before such a word it is either /ði/ if the word begins with a vocalic sound or /ðə/ if with a consonantal sound. When the word is stressed its /i/ is usually markedly long as in It’s ˈthe [iː] ˈmost `perfect one. Lengthening it may be often heard from a speaker who is hesitating over a choice of word, eg /ði[ː] `best ˏweɪ…/ The…best way…etc.
It can be hardly possible to say whether one has heard unaccented them uttered with or without a schwa unless a vocalic sound very closely follows the word. In such a situation it clearly is /ðəm/ eg in Try them all /ˈtraɪ ðəm `ɔl/ which spoken with normal fluency is not audibly different from Try the mall. Try them is most often /`traɪ ðm/: such a phrase uttered with a schwa tends to sound markedly deliberate as eg from a speaker whose patience is being tried.
In completely colloquial styles them is often replaced with /əm/ which sometimes may be seen represented in writing as ’em eg in eg To hell with ’em /tə `hel wɪð əm/.
The word ‘then’ was touched on in our Blog 012 when the sentence Then I’ll go `then, then was mentioned as easily possible with a schwa weakform for the first of the ‘thens’ but not for the last. The first and last of them say (with the kind of pleonasm commonplace in unscripted speech) ‘in that case’. The other means ‘at that time’. Sentence-final then meaning in that case never takes a weakform.
their and they’re
These have identical unweakened pronunciations and weakforms eg respectively as /ðɛr ˈɒn ðɛr `oʊn/ and /ðər ˈɒn ðər `oʊn/ They’re on their own. One cant confirm the LPD observation at its entry for they’re that ‘There is no RP weak form’.

'Each acquires a linking /r/ because in close rhythmic connection with a following vowel. In the typically excited exclamation of horse-racing devotees They’re off! instead of /ðɛr `ɒf/ ie [ðɛːr `ɒf] is more usually to be heard as [ðer `ɒf] ie /ðer `ɒf/ if not /ðər `ɒf/.
    In sequences like ‘their own’ or ‘they’re wrong’ the single /r/ involved (purely as regards audibility) isn’t more cert·nly assignable to either word. This potential confusion was clearly responsible for the fact that in a British transmission of the 23rd of December 2012 the television subtitling said that some unfortunate hospital patients had been left sitting in ‘the Rhône excrement’.
(Note: Such a word was for most speakers in the last century considered as containing the General British diphthong /ɛə/ but now seems to be increasingly regarded as more satisfactorily described as normally monophthongal [ɛː]. Accepting this view, I now normally write it as /ɛ/ with the economy of avoiding any length mark as unnecessary to distinguish it from /e/).
There has the common weakform /ðə/ eg as in There was one but there isn’t now. /ðə `wɒz ˏwᴧn | bət ðər ˈɪznt ˎnaʊ/ to which a reply might well be Isn’t there? /`ɪznt ˏðɛ/. The alternative posssibility /`ɪznt ˏðə/ seems to be tending to sound old-fashioned or conspicuous in such an exposed final position. This tendency is much less applicable to /ðə/ at its shortest as in eg /`ɪz ðə/ where the lengthening effect of carrying a tonal movement doesn’t occur.

Blog 540

The 21st of October 2017

Your Nonagenarian Bloggist

The English Phonetic Society of Japan occasionally devotes substantial parts of its Journal to Festschrifts. They so honored Professor John Wells in 2011 on the occasion of his seventieth birthday and retirement from the Chair of Phonetics at University College London. See our Blog 341. Another was dedicated in 2013 to the distinguished doyen of Korean phonetics Professor Hyun Bok Lee. See our Blog 462.

EPS President Masaki Tsuzuki in 2016 in Issue No. 21 of the Society's Journal1 similarly congratulated your bloggist on his reaching his 90th birthday last year in recognition of his having been a regular principal advisor to the Society ever since its founding in 1995. Joining him in their congratulations were Professor Hyun Bok Lee, Professor Masaki Taniguchi, Dr Kazuaki Ichizaki, Atsunori Kaniya, Professor Alessandro Rotatori, Professor John Esling, Dr Geoff Lindsey, Professor Carlos Gussenhoven, Professor Jane Setter, Marina Cantarutti, Professor Rafael Monroy, Associate Professor Karen Steffen Chung, Professor Emerita Gunnel Melchers, Professor Yoshio Ido, Dr Victor Pavón Vásqez, and Ayako Watanabe.

Along with the titles of the articles they have very kindly supplied for inclusion in 371 pages of the volume, are Professor David Crystal On saying ‘and correctly, Professor Alan Cruttenden A note on accent placement in idioms, Professor John Wells CPD in retrospect, Dr Patricia Ashby Written Intonation, Dr Michael Ashby Recognition where its due: some experiments in optical character recognition (OCR) for phonetic symbols, John A. Maidment Thomas Hallam: The Phonetician of the Peaks, Dr Inger M. Mees, Christina Høøck Osorno & Paul Carley Age-grading and stability in Cardiff: a real-time study spanning 34 years, Dr Tsutomu Akamatsu [h]/[ɦ] in intraword context in English, Professor Thorstein Fretheim East Norwegian falls and rises do not mean the same as English falls and rises, John Higgins English homographs and text-to-speech algorithms, Professor Michael K C MacMahon The Background to Richard Steads Phonetic Study of a Yorkshire Dialect (1877), Professor Mária Gósy Phrase-final lengthening in the speech of Hungarian learners of English, Graham Pointon The Anglicisation of Foreign Names, Professor Petr Rösel On Some of Jack Windsor Lewiss contributions to phonetic terminology, Sidney A. J. Wood A spectrographic study of sound changes in nineteenth century Kent, Professor Lucas van Buuren The indispensable science of embodied linguistic phonetics, Dr Brian Mott The syllable: a review and a look at some outstanding issues, Professor Peter French A Developmental History of Forensic Speaker Comparison in the UK, Professor Tamikazu Date A report on a pronunciation workshop in Nagoya 2016, Yuichi Todaka Improvement of Japanese College Students’ English Pronunciation Using English Central, Professor Masaki Taniguchi, Professor Hyun Bok Lee & Yusuke Shibata A comparison of Korean and English Rhythm, Kyoko Oga & Mamiko Orii-Akita ICT-Supported Pronunciation Training Program for English Teachers in Japan, Issei Wake & Mamiko Orii Using Critical Theory and American Literary Works to Improve University-Level English Presentation Skills through Active and Cooperative Learning Strategies, Kasuo Misono Why do vowels in English shift?, Hiroshi Miura The Differences of the Distribution and Quality of the [ɪu] Diphthong between Welsh and Cornish Accents of English.

Blog 539

The 4th of September 2017

People Speaking 46 An Unacceptable Gift

aɪ wz ˈwᴧns ˈrᴧŋ ˎᴧp | baɪ ə w- | ˈwᴧn əv ˈðoʊz | əm 1
I was once rung up by er one of those um
`dɑns stjudioʊz | ðət ˈdu ɪt baɪ | ðer `advəˏtaɪzɪŋ | 2
 dance studios that do it by— their advertising—
 baɪ ˈteləfoʊnɪŋ ˏnᴧmbəz | ət `randəm | 3
—by telephoning numbers at random.
ən ðə ˈleɪdi ət ði ˈᴧðər ˏend | sed | 4
And the lady at the other end said:
ɡʊd ˈɑftə ˎnun | ɪz ˈðɪs [u] | 5
‘Good afternoon. Is this [oo]’
ən ɡeɪvː| ˈmaɪ `nᴧmbə | 6
 and gave my number.
ˏ jes aɪ ˈsed | `wəl ʃi sed | 7
‘Yes’, I said. ‘Well’ she said
ˈjɔ`teləfoʊn ˏnᴧmbəz | bɪn əˏwɔdɪd | 8
‘Your telephone number’s been awarded
ə ˈfri `dɑnsɪŋ lesn |  ˈaɪ ˈsed | `madəm | 9
 a free dancing lesson’. I said, ‘Madam,
maɪ ˏteləfoʊn | ˈkɑnt `dɑns | 10
my telephone can’t dance’.
 ən `nᴧθɪŋ ˏdɔntɪd | ʃi ˈp[l]aʊd `ɒn | 11
And, nothing daunted, she ploughed on.
ʃi sed | ˈwʊd ju ˈlaɪk | 12
She said ‘Would you like
tu ə`veɪl jɔself ɒv ɪt | 13
to avail yourself of it?’
 ən ˈaɪ ˈsed | ə`las, madəm | 14
And I said ‘Alas, Madam,
maɪ ˈdɑnsɪŋ ˈdeɪz | ɑ ˈlɒŋ ˈsɪns ˎəʊvə | 15
my dancing days are long since over’.
`stɪl| ʃi wʊdn ɡɪv ˏᴧ [ː]p | ən sed | ˏbraɪtli| 16
Still she wouldn’t give up and said brightly
`wel | ɪz ðɛr ˈenɪbɒdi `els ət ðat ˎnᴧmbə | 17
‘Well is there anybody else at that number
hud `laɪk tu | əˎveɪl ðəmselvz əv ðɪs ˎɒfə | 18
who'd like to avail themselves of this offer
 ən ˈaɪ ˈsed | ˈmadəm | ðer ɪz ˈnəʊbədi ˏhɪə | 19
And I said ‘Madam, there is nobody here
bət ən ˈəʊld ˈman | ənd ɪz ˎmemriz | 20
but an old man and his memories’.
ənd ət `lɑst | ʃi ˈɡɒt ðə ˏpɔɪnt | ən raŋ `ɒf. 21
And at last she got the point and rang off.

The Wells LPD says of the pronunciation of their
 as having the ‘occasional’ weakform /ðə/ but here we
have another weakform /ðe/. Its strongform is /ðɛ/ ie [ðɛː].
In line 3  we see that the medial vowel of telephone is a schwa.
LPD 2008 gives /telɪfəʊn/ first but this seems to be tending to
sound either a little old-fashioned or socially conspicuous.
In line 5 the speaker has a sort of ‘slip of the tongue’ after  this.
In line 7 we see that well is accented even tho its vowel is a schwa.
This pronunciation is only recognised by LPD as an ‘occasional’
weakform but it doesnt seem very unusual here.
In line 11 the /l/ of  ploughed (which must be meant) seems inaudible.
In line 16 the vowel of up is so lengthened that it’s hardly if at all
diff·rent from that of carp or harp. And wouldnt has no /t/ tho that’s
quite normal for it when the next word begins with a consonant.
In line 20 the final syllable drops in volume so much that
one can’t be sure whether it’s /-iz/ or /-ɪz/.

Blog 538

The 24th of August 2017

Weakforms (xxii) shall, shd, shdn't, shdn've, so, somebody, somehow, somewhat, something, sort-of, such, suppose, sure

By way of informing students of English on what they may hear in native-speaker talk, on this website at §4.7.130, I mentioned that ‘In relaxed informal styles further weakening of shall to /ʃə/ may occur before some consonants eg Shall we go? as in /ʃə wi ˊgəʊ/.     Occasionally this /ʃə/ may even be accented as in /`ʃə wi ´gəʊ/. In such styles not only is the ell sometimes elided but so also is the schwa thus reducing shall to /ʃ/ as in the case of /ʃwi ˊgəʊ/. Also quite common is eg Shall I try /´ʃlaɪ traɪ/.
LPD gives as ‘occasional’ weakforms /ʃəd, ʃd & ʃt/. It’s rather surprising that /ʃəd/ should be given as ‘occasional’ because it's what seems to very frequently occur whenever should is unstrest. In any case, the relative occurrences of /ʊ & ə/ are quite difficult to judge especially in the habits of younger GB speakers among whom the distinction between the two vowels has been noticeably disappearing in the direction of schwa.
For /ʃd & ʃt/ the absence of aspiration at the /t/ makes the one hard to distinguish from the other.
An occurrence of the /d/ of /ʃd/ as the initial consonant of an accented syllable wd be possible if a reply to When did dinos die out?/ˈwen dɪd ˈdaɪnoʊz daɪ `aʊt/ were to be, as it easily might, How should I know? /haʊʃ `daɪnoʊ/. In occasional cases the /d/ of /ʃd/ may undergo assimilation to a following word as when I should go may become /`aɪ ʃd ˏɡoʊ/ and possibly also /`aɪ ʃɡˏɡoʊ/ and even very casually /`aɪ ʃˏɡoʊ/ which will then coincide with a casual version of I shall go.
 As with all words having the negative ending n’t, it’s extremely common for this to occur as /ʃʊdn/ with no final /t/ unless the word immediately precedes a silence or a break in the speaker’s rhythmic flow.
As so often, LPD has richer information than any of its rivals at this unusual type of entry. It gives /ʃʊd əv/ and ‘occasional weak form’ /ʃtəv/. It’d be reasonable to say that he /ʃtəv/ added /ʃdəv/. At any rate, the difference between these alternatives can often be impossible to hear as with eg I should have thought... /`aɪ ʃd əv ˏθɔt.../.
This word is surprisingly briefly delt with in LPD which only sez ‘There is an occasional’ weakform /sə/.’ As a conjunction in conversational usage it often takes its weakform in comparisons of the type eg This is not so nice as that one. I don't like so much sugar. They're not so very different. Compared with an·sering How d'you feel? with Not so good as /nɒt sə ˎɡʊd/, the alternative /ˈnɒt soʊ ˎɡʊd/ might tend to sound a bit more serious.
This weakform of so very commonly occurs beginning sentences especially in less formal contexts (tho it can never end sentences). It then usually means ‘for that reason, on that account, accordingly, consequently or therefore’. E.g. So then I left. So how was that? So there you are.
When it precedes a man’s forename sentence-initially it sometimes produces unfortunate ambiguities as to whether a titled person or not is being referred to especially in news broadcasts, eg So John has resigned may coincide auditorily with Sir John has resigned /sə ˈʤɒn əz riˎzaɪnd/.
A very casual occasional expression of farewell is So long /ˈsə ˈlɒŋ/ where it seems difficult to decide whether the so is accented or not.
Besides the usual form /`sᴧmbədi/ and the much less usual strongform /`sᴧmbɒdi/ (of which that usual form is of course a weakform) there are the casual weakforms /`sᴧmmədi, sᴧmədi & `sᴧmdi/ as in /ɑs sᴧmdi `els/ Ask somebody else.
This is sometimes /`sᴧmaʊ/ in informal speech.
This has the weakform /`sᴧmwən/ eg in /ɑs sᴧmwən `els/ Ask someone else. As Graham Pointon reminds me, there's also another weakform /`sᴧmmən/ with /w/ replaced by a second /m/. A further weakening produces a double elision to /`sᴧmn/ as when someone else becomes /sᴧmn `els./
This has the usually unnoticed weakform /`sᴧnθɪŋ/ and very casually occasionally /sᴧmɪŋ/.
OED has the spellings ‘sort of, o', a, sorter’, the last three of which all indicate the pronunciation /sɔtə/. Despite the ‘popular’ spelling  sorter’ that OED quotes with a final ‘r’ this expression can contain no /r/ unless it is a linking one. This may also sound /sɔdə/ and very often becomes /sətə/.
OED also has‘used adverbially: In a way or manner; to some extent or degree, somewhat; in some way, somehow. Hence passing into use as a parenthetic qualifier expressing hesitation, diffidence, or the like, on the speaker's part...
This is colloquially sometimes added to qualify a statement etc only as /`sɔt əv/ equivalent to ‘not exactly’. Cf kinda, lotta and cuppa.
Informally unstressed occurring immediately before a vowel this is often /səʧ/ eg as in /ˈnɒt səʧ ə ɡʊd aɪ`dɪə/ Not such a good idea.
The weakform /spoʊz/ is very commonly used after the pronoun I and sometimes with other subjects eg /dju spouz ɪts `ˏpɒsəbl/ D’you suppose it’s possible?
Some speakers have a weakform /ʃə/ of variable length to express  sorts of casual mostly rather cursory agreement, as Kraut has kindly reminded me.

Blog 537

The 12th of July 2017

People Speaking 45 The Festive Season


    1.    `krɪsməs əl bi ˈhɪə ˈsun | ˈwɒt ju ˈgɪvɪŋ | ᴧŋkl ˎalbət
    2.    ɜ ˈɜ | ˈwɒd əm `aɪ gɪvɪŋ ˏɪm
    3.    `[h]jes
    4.    `əʊ | ɜ | ˈɜ[b] | `aɪ səpəʊz iz `ɡɒ [ʔ]p plenti əv sɪ`ˏgɑz
    5.    [hj]es| hiz ɡɒt ˈɔl ðə ˈwᴧnz | i had frɪz `bɜθdeɪ
    6.    [i`eː]…ˈʃal wi ɡɪv ɪm sᴧmθɪŋ bɪ`twin əs dju ˏθɪŋk
    7.    ˈəʊˏkeɪ | ˈwɒt əˈbaʊt ə ˎpʊləʊvə
    8.    `raɪt. ´haz i ˈɡɒt ə ˈfeɪvrət `ˏkᴧlə
    9.    `u | aɪ də `nəʊ…| bət wi məs ˈget ɪt | ət sənt ˎmaɪklz |
             an ðen i kən ˈteɪk ɪt ˈbak | ən ˈʧeɪnʤ ɪt ɪf i ˎwɒnts tu
    10.    jud ˈbetə `tel ɪm i ˏkan | ɔr i ˈwəʊnt ˎnəʊ. hi ˈgeɪv ə`weɪ | ðat                 `red ˏwᴧn | ɑnt `eθl bɔt ɪm ˏðɛ
    11.    `əʊ [h]u.`evriwᴧn ət ˏɑ haʊs | əd bɪn `wᴧndrɪŋ |
                wɒt əd ˎhapm̩ ˏtu ɪt

Comments numbered by speaker turn:

  1. This omission of ‘are’ after ‘What’ is fairly normal in markedly informal speech.

  2. The difference between /t/ and /d/ is very reduced when they end words because then /t/ doesnt receive the aspiration it has word-initially. The /d/ replacing the normal /t/ here simply sounds informal.

  3. Speakers don·t on·y use words but also ‘noises’  to express themselves. The aitch-type noise before ‘yes’ is an example.

  4. The /t/ of ‘got’ has a simultaneous glottal stop. Another ‘noise’.

  5. The /j/ beginning ‘yes’ is here pronounced with ‘breathy noise’. A weakform of ‘for’ omitting its vowel coming together with a weakform of ‘his’ omitting its /h/  is quite a  usual combination.

  6. He draws out ‘yes’ thoughtfully and drops its final /s/ informally in a way you sometimes see spelt ‘yeah’.

The exclamation ‘Ooh’ expresses usually slight displeasure. The reduction of ‘don’t know’ to dunno’ is very informal./an/ with no /d/ is a very commom weakform of ‘and’ .

  1. Her extension of the exclamation ‘oh’ to what might be written as ‘oh-hoo’ is simply personal noise-making.

Text in ordin·ry spelling:

    1.  Christmas will be here soon.What are you giving Uncle                         Albert?
    2.    Er. Er. What am I giving him?
    3.    Yes.
    4.    Oh. Er. Er. I suppose he’s got plenty of cigars.
    5.    Yes. He’s got all the ones he had for his birthday.
    6.     Shall we give him something between us, d’you think?
    7.    Okay. What about a pullover?
    8.    Right. Has he got a favourite colour?
    9.    Ooh! I don’t know…but we must get it at St Michaels
            and then he can take it back and change it if he wants to.
    10.   You’d better tell him he can or he won’t know.
             He gave away that red one Aunt Ethel bought him there.
    11.    Oh! Everyone at our house had been wondering what had                         happened to it.

Blog 536

The 14th of June 2017

Weakforms (xxi) particularly, per, perhaps, probably, really

Only LPD 2008 ie the Wells Longman Pronunciation Dictionary deals with ‘weak forms’ really thoro’ly of the three pronunciation dictionaries of GB. When I quote pronunciations from LPD I dont necessarily reproduce its original symbols (or spaces). My use of forward slashes indicates positive phonemic transcription, backward ones are non-committal.

particular LPD was right to give its warning label ︎ for /pə`tɪklə/ becoz isolate, prominent, deliberate etc renditions of the word are truly ‘considered incorrect’ tho, in fact, if they’re at all casually uttered they’d be likely to pass unnoticed as does [pə`tɪkələ] a common instance of yod dropping. Cf [pə`tɪkklə] which was mentioned at Blog 391.

    particularly LPD sez ‘in casual speech sometimes also  /pə`tɪkjəli/ or /pə`tɪkəli/ or /pə`tɪkli/’ being paps a bit over cautious in saying ‘casual’.

per has the common weakform /pə/ as in The naval rum ration was one tot /pə/ person /pə/ day.

       perhaps LPD sez ‘informally also pər`aps’, on·y rarely \pr̩`aps\ with syllabic /r/ which·d tend to sound hesitant.

    /paps/, tho extremely common and not even really limited to casual use is not given in any of the pronunciation dictionaries. Cf our Blog 423 which also notes /pəʊgram, prəʊgam/ and even  /pəʊgam/.

    probably LPD sez ‘In casual speech sometimes \`prɒbli\. Especially if it isnt isolated, in ord·n·ry conversation it’s quite typicly so. Casually it’s \`pɒbli\ in running speech and sometimes \`prɒbəli\.and even occasionally \`pɒbəli\.

    real This word was the subject of an LPD preference poll which by 55% to 45%  favoured identity with ‘reel’ as \riːl\ but JCW disagreed giving /rɪəl/ in first place thus indicating it as in his opinion the more usual ‘RP’ version

        really gave an even more problematic result as the subject of another LPD preference poll: 80% of the (Remember: non-expert, self-selected British ie not excluding Scottish etc) participants sed it rhymed with neither freely nor frilly; 19% rhymed it with freely. I think a generation or so back this last version /`rili/ wdve been widely considered to be distinctly unfashionable but times seem t’ve been changing.
     Far more int·resting is that 80% feeling that it rhymed with neither freely nor frilly. Quite right! Becoz the predominant pronunciation is not exac·ly with the diphthong [ɪə] but with the long monophthong [ɪː] which cd on·y’ve been offered as an alternative choice to a set of participants who were phoneticly savvy. The version actually with the true diphthong now sounds completely old-fashioned and/or pedantic and/or conspicuously posh. I dont remember when I last heard it uttered like that. They rightly rejected [rɪli] coz spoken clearly and firmly it sounds rather ridiculous for ‘really’. However, uttered lightly in casual speech I guess [rɪli] offen occurs unnoticed. Compare the comments on nearly at our Blog 397.

     Saint: LPD deals well with the slightly complicated weakforms of this giving /sənt/ as the usual weakform and at the abbreviation St, explaining that /sən/ ‘tends to be restricted to cases where the following name begins with a consonant’. At  p. 769 it explicitly points out that in GB the strongform ‘is not customary when St is prefixed to a name’ (by contrast with its GA treatment).

    says is a word for which British poll preferences were collected for LPD. Only 16% of the participants favoured /seɪz/. Few if any of these are likely to’ve been GB speakers, I guess. None of the dictionaries makes any mention of the existence of the admittedly unusual weakform /s(ə)z/ sometimes heard especially in certain kinds of very informal narration eg ‘Right! says I’. The same goes for the rare form /s(ə)d/of said.

    serious has the occasional weakforms /`sɪriəs/ and /`sɪərəs/ homophonous respectively with Sirius and serous (the star and the adjective corresponding to serum).

    seriously has the weakforms /`sɪrəsli/  and /`sirəsli/ both  much commoner than the only version recorded in the reference books ie /`sɪəriəsli/. It is probably most often [`sɪːrəsli] with the quasi phoneme \ ɪː\. All these seem to be much more usual than that /`sɪəriəsli/ the only recognised version. 

Blog 535

The 9th of June 2017

How Shakespeare Spoke

Book cover

Wou·dn’ it be great if we had an audio recording of William Shakespeare speaking some of his own stuff. Our Blog 051 was about a written record of the actual words he spoke in giving evidence at a hearing in a court of law. But his own voice of course we can only guess about. He may well have kept some of his native Warwickshire features rather than conformed completely to the sophisticated London norms of the theatrical world he joined, tho he also, as one with no do·ut a pritty keen ear, may well’ve become something of a speech chameleon.

    However, David Crystal our ‘foremost writer..on the English language’ as Wikipedia justly describes him, has been working hard to give us the nearest thing. He’s been studying the evidence on the ways English sounded 400 years ago with concentrated attention to Shakespeare’s works. His efforts were crowned last year with the publication, after ten long years of preparation, of his weighty 700-page volume entitled The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation

     For a century and a half scholars, actually first in the USA, have put a lot of thaut into working out what the sound of EModE (Early Modern English) was like. The earliest significant work on how Shakespeare sounded was the 1865 ‘Memorandum on English Pronunciation in the Elizabethan era’ written by the New Yorker Richard Grant White to accompany his edition of the plays. Since then, many publications on the subject far too numerous to detail here have appeared. Most notable among the earliest was On Early English Pronunciation with Especial Reference to Shakespeare and Chaucer (1869-74) by the great British polymath Alexander J. Ellis. Chief among the others were A Shakespeare Phonology (1906) by the German scholar Wilhelm Viëtor of the University of Marburg and Shakespeare’s Pronunciation (1953) by the Swedish author Helge Kökeritz who worked at various American universities including Yale whose University Press publisht his book. Also there was Shakespeare’s Works and Elizabethan Pronunciation by the Italian academic Fausto Cercignani of the University of Milan whose book was publisht by Oxford University Press in 1981.

    Crystal modestly declares that his book has ‘a single aim: to help those who wish to present Shakespeare using Early Modern English Pronunciation’. That he regularly refers to as ‘OP’ standing for ‘Original Pronunciation’. He gives OP versions determined by him of the over 20,000 diff·rent words occurring in the whole Shakespeare output of 36 plays, 154 Sonnets and other verse.                
    Some of the earliest performances in OP, not of whole plays but selected scenes, were given by Daniel Jones and members of his Department of Phonetics of UCL (University College London) as early as 1909. These were to lead in 1949 to a BBC radio program The Elizabethan Tongue in which actors trained by Jones performed ‘passages from the plays of Shakespeare in their original pronunciation’. An undergraduate at the time, I remember liss·ening to it with great fascination. As every·one is, I was struck by its effect of sounding like a curious mixture of British strongly regional accents chiefly West-country and North-country varieties with a few occasional suggestions of Irish speech.

    Crystal is optimistic about the problems for actors undertaking to use OP saying ‘They should find it learnable with no greater difficulty than they would experience in acquiring any other accent’ but also he acknowledges that it takes a ‘great deal of rehearsal time. It is not like the learning of a modern regional accent, where the actors have contemporary intuitions and everyday models to refer to. It requires a special kind of dialect coaching, which is not always available’.

    So it’s not surprising that productions are not very numerous. The London 1997 reconstruction of the Elizabethan Globe theatre after some years put on an OP Romeo and Juliet in 2004 and followed it the next year with a Troilus and Cressida. Since then there has been only a Henry V. Rather than here, there’ve been OP stagings at American universities including Yale, Kansas, Nevada, Houston Texas, Minneapolis and Baltimore.

     Before this dictionary Crystal had already published the books Shakespeare’s Words in 2002 (with his son Ben), Pronouncing Shakespeare in 2005 and Think on my Words: Exploring Shakespeare’s Language in 2008. He has also set up ‘Shakespeare’s Words’ a very valuable free website glossary and language companion explaining archaic meanings of words. A concise formal review by your bloggist of this Crystal Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation is due shortly to appear in the Cambridge University Press publication the Journal of the International Phonetic Association.

Blog 534

The 13th of March 2017

People Speaking 44 A la Australienne

/ˈɑ ˈlɑ| ɒˈstreɪliˎen/ ie In the Australian style.

1.We had a Goanese steward, who was called Anis.
    /wi had ˈgoʊəˈniz `stjuəd | hu wəz kɔld `anɪs
2. And we had a couple of lovely Australian girls
    ən wi ad ə ˈkᴧpl ˈəv | `lᴧvli | əˈstreɪljən ˎɡɜlz |
3. in the cabin with me, who were…
    ɪn ðə kabɪn wɪð ˏmi | hu wə...
4. The original dumb blondes.
    ði ə`rɪʤənəl ˈdᴧm ˎblɒnz
            It’s completely ordinary to elide the /d/ of the sequence
            /-ndz/ in a word like blondes.
5. Except they weren’t blondes really. They made..
    ek sept ðeɪ ˎwɜnt ˎblɒnz ˏrɪəli | ðeɪ meɪd—
            Words like really are normally transcribed as /rɪəli/
            tho their /ɪə/ phoneme may be realised not as a diphthong
            as here with a long simple vowel [rɪːli]. It’s occasionally
            possible to hear this word pronounced with a perfectly short
            [ɪ] vowel so it’s possible to consider the version [rɪːli] as                 /rɪli/  phonemicly but with a lengthened /ɪ/.
6. (They) used to spend hours in the cabin with a bottle
             jus tə spend `ɑz ɪn ðə `kabɪn wɪð ə `bɒtl...
            In this sense of ‘used’ as ‘accustomed to’ it sounds very
            strange if a speaker shd say /juzd/ instead of the normal
            devoiced /jus(t)/. The 'smoothing' /ɑz/ is not unusual.
7. At any rate, they were the original sort of dumb blondes
    ət `eni reɪt | ðeɪ wə ði ə`rɪʤənl sət əv ˈdᴧm ˎblɒnz |
            It’s only in the adverbial expression ‘sort of’ that the
            word sort may be heard with its wowel reduced to /ə/.
8. And they insisted on calling him ‘Anus’
    ən ðeɪ ɪn`sɪstɪd ɒn kɔlɪŋ ɪm `eɪnəs.
9. And they obviously didn’t realise...
    ən ðeɪ ˈɒbvɪsli ˈdɪdnt ˎrɪlaɪz..
            It’s extremely common to replace the traditional form
            of the word obviously with such a weakform.
10. We used to have hysterics every time.
     `wi jus tə hav ɪ`sterɪks evri taɪm...
             It’s not uncommon to drop initial aitch of a second                               successive word beginning with a weak syllable.
11. Yes he could shamble in early morning with the tea.
    ˎjes i kəd ˈʃambl ˈɪn | ɜli ˎmɔnɪŋ | wɪð ðə ˎti |
12. And they used to say | Hullo Anis.
      ən ðeɪ ˈjus tə ˈseɪ | ˈhᴧˈloʊ ˏeɪ ˈnəs |
12. It made the day for us.
      ɪt `meɪd | ðə `deɪ | fər ˏᴧs.

 Our title meaning ‘in the Australian style’refers
        to the manner of pronunciation used by the
        Australian girls of the story.

  The English word anus /`eɪnəs/, sez the Oxford Advanced
        Learner’s Dictionary, is ‘The opening in a person’s bottom
        through which solid waste leaves the body’.

  The speaker is describing a voyage on board
a ship where
          a steward is a man who serves meals etc to
ship’s passengers.

   Goanese means coming from Goa, a state on the west coast
         of India which was formerly a Portuguese colony.

Our transcription gives only the words of the person describing
         her experience.

The story partly reflects the feature of the Australian accent that,
       like various other English accents,
for the final vowels of words         like tennis, office etc it has a schwa by contrast with General             British which has /ɪ/ for them.

Blog 533

The 24th of February 2017

Somethink Puzzling

I’ve long been puzzled by a unique feature of the four words anything, everything, nothing and something. In Joseph Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary of 1905 one finds that he recorded the pronunciation anythink as reported from places especially in the midland English counties Cheshire, Staffordshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. He had no entries for everythingk or somethingk but for nothingk, besides its incidence in Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland and Staffordshire, he noted reports of its occurrence in Warwickshire, Kent, Wiltshire and Somerset.
    One of the few scholars to refer in the past to the devoicing of the final g of /-ŋɡ/ to /-ŋk/ was E. J. Dobson in Vol II of his English Pronunciation 1500-1700 (1968) at p.942 where he remarked ‘The unvoicing of final [ŋg] to [ŋk] … occurs sporadically in late OE…’ [OED gives an instance from the Will of Ælfhelm in D. Whitelock’s Anglo-Saxon Wills (1930) ‘Gif hwa æfre ænig þinc of þysum…’ It also mentions, at the noun thing, Old Dutch thing becoming Middle Dutch dinc and the same development in High German.] Dobson continued ‘it is regular in the North-west Midlands in ME and is a widespread vulgarism in ModE. The orthoepists, however, give no evidence of it.
    It’s true that there’s surprisingly no mention of the phenomenon in the works of the supreme orthoepist John Walker (1732-1807) nor in those of his principal successor B. H. Smart, (1787-1872) but that last comment of Dobson’s was contradicted by his ref·rence to the fact that Henry Cecil Wyld (1870-1945) in his History of Modern Colloqial English (1936 p.290) quoted the orthoepist James Elphinston (1721–1809 a London-based Scot) as saying ‘Among very vulgar speakers — not in London alone — we sometimes hear “nothingk” for ‘nothing at the present time’ and also ‘a common Londoner talks of anny think else or anny thing kelse’. It’s cert·nly a puzzling matter that, in modern times, altho this kind of seemingly ‘excrescent’ /k/ is never found anywhere in England on simple words, not even attached to the word ‘thing’, it’s to be he·rd fairly widely ending one or other of these four very common compound nouns anything, everything, nothing and something.
    It seems that in earlier times this very limited occurrence of such a phenomenon was not quite the whole story even in English. Wyld (1936) had a relevant quotation from a biography of the famous Cardinal Wolsey by his ‘gentleman-usher’ George Cavendish (1497 – c. 1562) under the title ‘Thomas Wolsey, Late Cardinall, his Lyffe and Deathe’ which came to be printed in 1641. In it the word hanging appeared as ‘hankyng’. Wyld (1936) also reported from A. J. Ellis’s monumental five-volume On Early English Pronunciation quotations of 1548 in her own handwriting by Queen Elizabeth containing ‘brinkinge of me up’ and ‘our brinkers up’.
    The mystery of the under-reporting of this phonological phenomenon thickens when we consider that some of the keenest observers of ‘received’ as also of less ‘accepted’ English speech, included most remarkably the Londoner Daniel Jones, who for example drew attention in The Pronunciation of English 1956 §247 to the insertion of an ‘intrusive’ /k/ after the /ŋ/ in the words length and strength, but nowhere referred to the existence of any /k/ after a word-final /ŋ/ despite his readiness to refer to other Cockneyisms.
    The large-scale Leeds University Survey of English Dialects (1962-1972) provided records of numerous informants saying the word anything with final /k/ (in response to its Questionnaire Book V item 8.16 and Book VII items 8.14 & 15) in over half the counties of England including besides the midland ones mentioned above, the more peripheral Durham, Yorkshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. This consideration makes it rather disappointing that, in the Survey’s magnificent 1978 Linguistic Atlas of England edited by Harold Orton, Stewart Sanderson and John Widdowson, we find Phonological Maps 242 and 243 of tongue and tongs showing the incidence of variants with and without /ɡ/ but no phonological map was included of anything which cd’ve shown the wide distribution of final /k/ variants of that word.
    Anyway, while I was continuing to bewail scholars’ neglect of these final-k forms, the current OED3 team suddenly came up last June (ie in 2016) with a brand-new OED entry headed anythink which reads “Forms of anything pron. and n. showing devoicing of /ŋɡ/ to /ŋk/ are attested sporadically from Old English onwards …. It is noteworthy that the early modern orthoepists make no mention of this development, which appears to have been first noticed (and condemned as a vulgarism) by the Scot Elphinston…They add the caution ‘Occasional occurrences of the forms anythink, any think (as also nothink, somethink, etc.) in standard English printed sources from the late 17th cent. to the early 19th cent. probably reflect the language of the typographer.’ OED’s quotations begin with the 1698 “L. Milbourne Notes [on] Dryden's Virgil 138 There was Pasturage enough, if anythink was wanting, it was Flocks and Herds to graze on ‘em.” Apparently the most famous writer to demonstrate the use of anythink was Charles Dickens from whom OED quotes his 1861 novel Great Expectations (at Chapter III. xix. p. 333) as containing ‘O dear old Pip, old chap,’ said Joe. ‘God knows as I forgive you, if I have anythink to forgive!’ In current spoken usage the phenomenon is occasionally to be heard twinkling in the speech of a rather curious variety of quite prominent speakers.

    [Further examples of ‘-think’ compounds in Old and Middle English quoted in OED are tr. Vitas Patrum in B. Assmann Angelsächsische Homilien u. Heiligenleben (1889) 196 Þa ne gefredde he naþinc þæs brynes for þam miclan luste, ?a1425 (?a1350) T. Castleford Chron. (1940) 21494 (MED), Dedeing me þink anens þin dedes, Þe to amende na þink þou spedes” and Seven Sleepers (Julius) (1994) 39 Us nan þingc on worulde fram Gode ne gehremme & sum þing(c), ðing, ME sum ðinc.]

Blog 532

The 10th of February 2017

Weakforms (xx) nobody, no-one, nor, obvious(ly), on, or, our

For weakforms of nearly, see our BLOG 397

    nobody: This word can be sed to have two strongforms of which the stronger /`noʊbɒdi / is the much less usual. It’s not used by most speakers (and by very much only a minority when unstrest) in expressions like Nobody `else ˏdoes. The weakform / `noʊbdi/ isnt usual phrase-finally. Very casually and quite unstrest /noʊ(d)di/ may occasionally occur.

    no-one: Except in deliberate speech the strongform /`noʊwᴧn/ is replaced by the weakform /`noʊᴧn/. This is very often replaced by /`noʊən/ eg in No-one at all  as
/`noʊən ə`tɔl/ and sometimes casually tho not phrase-finally by /noʊn/.

    nor: As the Wells LPD sez ‘There is also an occasional weak form’ /nə/. This is probably confined to use in rather old-fashioned set phrases like what I find in ODC (which I call without their leave: see our Blog 527) the Oxford Dictionary of Current English. They give the example ‘I could find neither hide nor hair of him’. In an expression like ‘neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring’ the first phrase-internal nor may well be heard as /nə/ but the nor initiating the final climactic phrase is far more likely to take the strongform /nɔ/.

    obvious/ly: The /b/ of the strongform of these very common adjectival and adverbial items will naturally take not its canonical precisely bilabial form but will anticipate the labiodentality of the following [v]. This will not constitute the formation of a weakform but the simplification of the /bv/ sequence to [b̪b̪] will often result in a labiodental or sometimes bilabial simple  consonant giving /`ɒvɪs(li)/ or less often /`ɒbɪs(li)/. Both of these transcriptions assume the usual accompanying reduction of the canonical diphthong /ɪə/ via [ɪː] shortened to /ɪ/. Markedly casual weakforms of the adverb as /ɒbsli/ and /ɒvsli/ are both quite common.

    of: In casual style a weakform of of with its vowel elided sometimes occurs in eg Never heard of it as /nevə `hɜd v ɪt/.

    on: This has no weakform listed in any of the dictionaries not ureasonably becoz it very rarely exhibits one. The most frequent occurrence of its form /ən/ is probably in the exclamatory expression How~What on earth… /ˈhaʊ~wɒt (ə)n `ɜθ…/etc. It also may occur in a truly rapidly delivered eg in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as /ˈkat n ə hɒt tɪn `ruf/ or in set on fire as /set n `faɪə/.

    or: LPD’s ‘In Br E... ɔː normally has no weak form...only an occasional weak form ə used chiefly in set phrases’ lacks examples and understates the frequency of the schwa weakform. It is used quite regularly between two single digits as in ‘one or two’. Other common sequences include ‘or otherwise, or else, or even, or rather’ and ‘...or at least, sooner or later, more or less’ and ‘whether or not’ heard frequently with schwas.

    our: This was well described in the Wells LPD where it is reasonably referred to as taking a weakform /ɑ/ for ‘some speakers’. Apart from acknowledging that very common ‘smoothing’ in any context, one cou·d say this alone until almost the end of the last century. However, the alternant weakform /aʊ/ fomerly not used by GB speakers is now readily observable currently as an establisht GB usage, no dou·t having arisen from the motive to adopt what is perceived as more properly ‘careful’ or ‘clear’ speech. Current BBC Radio 4 Newsreaders from whom it may be heard include Charles Carroll, Corrie Corfield and Diana Speed.

Blog 531

The 1st of February 2017

People Speaking 43 Unsung Newsreaders

Note on transcription: The vowel of words like hat is now becoming increasingly  recognised as having changed in GB from what was formerly best represented in IPA notation by the symbol /æ/ two or more generations ago to what is now more suitably recorded with /a/. Such widely varying forms these days exist of the GB goat diphthong as to justify transcribing it /oʊ/. We use no length colons and the now recessive diphthong /ɛə/ is replaced by the monophthong /ɛ/.

 1. / ˈðat | wəz `veri wel ˎred | ˈveri ə `mjuzɪŋ /.

        That was very well read. Very amusing!

    Altho the textbooks rightly describe the phoneme /ð/ as
    characteristicly fricative it’s often heard with no friction
     at all as at the first sound here and twice in Turn 4.

2. / `jes | `awz ɪnʤɔɪ ðoʊz bɪts | frm ðə ˏpeɪpəz /.
    Yes. I always enjoy those bits from the papers.

    She telescopes to I always /`a(ɪ ɔ)wɪz/ in a very casual manner.    

3. /ˈhu wəz ɪt ˎridɪŋ | ˈdɪdju `ˏhiə /.

   Who was it reading? Did you hear?

The fall-rise tone on hear sounds tentative and therefore
more polite or friendly than a simple rise.

4. /`ðeɪ dɪdn `seɪ | ˏdɪd ðeɪ /.
They didnt say, did they?

 There’s very often no final /t/ of the spelling heard when a
  word with this negative ending -nt doesnt occur before a pause.

5. /`oʊ jes aɪ k`spek ðeɪ ˎdɪd | aɪ θɪŋk ɪt wəz kɒlɪn mək`dɒnld /.

    Oh yes, I expect they did. I think it was Colin McDonald.

     It’s not unusual for ‘expect’ in such contexts as here
     to lose its initial vowel and final consonant.

6. /nevə `hɜd əv ɪm /. Never heard of him.

This sentence at normal speed wdve sounded ridiculous with the
 strongform /hɪm/ of the pronoun after fully strest /h/ beginning ‘heard’.

7. /ˎoʊ jes ju ˏhav | ju prɒbəli hɜd ɪz `-neɪm | `hᴧndrəz ə taɪmz /
    Oh yes you have. You probably heard his name hundreds of times.

        The word probably is commonly reduced. LPD lists a casual variant /prɒbli/.             hundreds of  has a hardly if at all audible second /d/. The weakform of of is often         /ə/. The intonation marking / `-neɪm/ means the high fall goes only down to the             mid height.

8. / ˈhiz ˈbin | wᴧn ə ðɛ ˎʧif ˏridəz | fə `jɜz |

    He’s been one of their chief readers for years.

    In phrases where one of precedes a word beginning with a consonant,
    the shorter weakform without any /v/ is often preferred.

9. /ˈðeɪ ˈdu | `gɪv ðɛ neɪmz ˏðiz deɪz | `doʊnt ðeɪ /.

    They do give their names these days, don’t they?

    Her first two words are uttered with a voice quality
    so much higher than the rest that it cd be called 'falsetto'.

10. `jɛs | ˎəz ə ˎˏrul | bət ˏveri ɪ`ratɪkli ɪt simz ˏmi |

       Yes. As a rule. But very erratically it seems to me.

  Rather curiously, we make adverbs from most adjectives ending in -ic
  by adding -ally in writing but usually speak them only adding the -ly.

11. ðeɪ ˈɒfn sim tə fə`get | ɔ ˈnɒt tə `bɒðə|.

     They often seem to forget or not to bother.

  Since the last century often has often had its /t/ restored.

12. /aɪ kspekt ɪt dɪˈpenz | haʊ lɒŋ ðɛ `spikɪŋ fɔ/.

     I expect it depends how long they’re speaking for.

    After a vowel sound the initial /ɪ/ of expect is often elided.

    Neither speaker used a /d/ in depends after the /n/.

11. n`oʊni ˎpɑtlɪ | `eniwei | ɪt dɪpenz ɒn ðə `sɜvɪs

      Only partly. Anyway it depends on the service.

He seems to have begun to say No but switched to Only. Speakers
of all varieties of English very frequently omit the /l/ of only
not that the lexicographers care to admit it.

12. ˈhaʊ dju `min |.
        How d’you mean?

     Probably nowadays /ʤu/ is commoner GB than /dju/.

13. `wel | ɪf ðɛ | ˎreɪdioʊ `wᴧn | ɔ `tu | `dɪsk ˏʤɒkɪz |

       Well if they’re Radio 1 or 2 disk jockeys,

        ðeɪ ˈivn hav ðat | ˈblᴧdi ˈneɪm `sᴧŋ

     They even have that bloody name `sung!

        Bloody is quite mild a swear word.

Blog 530

The 30th of January 2017


 The useful but rather abstruse word ‘hypocorism’ was classified in the NED (aka OED1) in 1899 by its chief editor Murray as ‘rare’ and defined as ‘pet-name’. The literal meaning of its Greek etymon was ‘somewhat childish’. The sole quotation of its use was, and to this day still is, of its earliest recorded appearance in 1850. Murray supplied it with two pronunciations which were transliterated into IPA for OED2 as (hɪp-, haɪˈpɒkərɪz(ə)m). The second, with the diphthong /aɪ/, was the only one of the two supplied with one of the OED3 audio demonstrations that since late 2015 have been such a welcome extra OED3 facility. That pronunciation was the sole one suggested in the Wells LPD in 2008. The word has not been included in the Cambridge EPD nor was it in the 2001 Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation (now, since last November, re-emerging as The Routledge Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English). It was employed freely in the Dictionary of First Names by Patrick Hanks & Flavia Hodges (OUP 1999). This mainly excellent account of its subject was unfortunately not adequate in its coverage of pronunciation matters. The term did not appear at·all in Elizabeth G. Withycombe’s 1945 Oxford Dictionary of Christian Names which at 136 pages was less extensive than the 443 of Hanks & Hodges.
    People’s names in the mouths of their closest companions and associates very commonly indeed give rise to reduced forms. These are obvi·sly gen·rally the result of speakers’ wish to utter them with maximum ease. Sometimes there may be the added desire of some degree of playfulness. Hanks & Hodges sensibly classify each item as either ‘short form’ or ‘pet form’.
    The most common hypocoristic adaptations reduce the name to its first syllable as with Alf, Ben, Bert, Chris, Dan, Ed, Fred, Geoff, Joe, Kath, Len, Nat, Max, Nick, Pat, Pete, Pru, Ray, Reg, Ron, Sam, Tim, Vi, Vic, Will etc. Some show reduction to a medial element as with Liz, Beck (from Rebecca), Sandy (from Alexander) and Zeke (from Ezekiel). Others use final elements as with Tina, Lottie (from Charlotte), Trixie (from Beatrix), Trudy (from Gertrude) and Tone. This last is vastly less used than Tony. One wonders if those who pronounce Anthony as /`anθəni/ ever reduce it to /anθ/ or /θoun/!
    The form Toby suggests that in an earlier era people must’ve accented the first syllable of Tobias. The medieval diminutising of Nicholas to Col similarly suggests that it had been at some time accented on its second syllable. The name Colin formed from it with the diminutive suffix -in of French origin remains very popular. That suffix is now obsolete but centuries ago, when added to the short form Rob of Robert, it produced the nickname Robin which completely replaced the original name ‘redbreast’ of the popular small bird.
    The forms Betty, Matt, Nat, Tad, Tess and Tom undou·tedly witness the fact that in very early occurrences the names Elizabeth, Esther, Matthew, Nathaniel, Nathan, Thaddeus, Theresa, and Thomas were pronounced with /θ/, which over time was converted to /t/. Today we find that <th> has retained pronunciation with /t/ only in Thomas and Esther. The name Theresa, of dou·tful origin and often also spelt Teresa, isnt pronounced with /θ/. Antony was given its now most usual spelling, Anthony with <th>, by mistake, the original of the name not having had /θ/. Tho the unetymological spelling of the word has largely prevailed, the pronunciation with /θ/ has not been much used except in America. The forms of Dorothy reduced to Dot or Dottie will have originated from telescoping of the name by elision of its middle syllable at a time when its final syllable began with /t/ rather than /θ/. The same kind of process will have accounted for Theodore having been reduced not only to Theo but often to Ted or Teddy.
    Forenames like Barry, Carol, Derek, Dorothy, Harold, Sara(h), Terence, Teresa, with initial syllables ending /r/, have not acquired short forms ending with the consonantal sound /r/. Speakers have instead adopted short forms mostly ending in /z/ or /l/ eg Baz, Caz, Del, Doll, Hal, Sal, Tel and Tess. Some of these have been converted to the pet forms Dolly, Sally etc. In creating a monosyllabic abbreviation it has usually been preferred to end it in either a single consonant or a cluster closed by /s/ or /z/. For example, in producing a short form from Gilbert,*Gilb was rejected. A form with a single-consonant ending Gib has produced the common surname Gibson. Forms with final /s/ include Babs from Barbara, Becks from Rebecca, Bets from Elizabeth, Debs from Deborah, and Else from Eleanor. In many cases pet-form extensions like Betsy have become far more popular than the short forms that preceded them.
    An additional motive speakers may show in their choices of hypocorisms is the wish, despite its being counter to effort reduction, to express affection or familiarity by the addition of a diminutive suffix chiefly /-i/ spelt -y or -ie. This has given rise to common forms like Annie, Charlie, Johnny, Harry, Reggie, Sammy, Tommy and Vicky. Some names can’t receive a diminutive /-i/ because they already end with another kind of /-i/ as in the case of Amy, Barry, Esmé, Gary, Ivy, Lucy, Mary, Murray, Rodney, Rory, Sidney, Phoebe and Zoë.
   Other names have developed variants with further irregularities. Frances, having become reduced to its first syllable Fran, underwent a further reduction by the dropping of its second consonant /r/ reducing it to Fan. In turn that became diminutised to Fanny which was very popular in the nineteenth century. These days it’s probably little realised to have been derived from Frances.
    Until two or three centuries ago it was a very common affectionate or familiar way of addressing someone to prefix their name with ‘mine’. We find one consciously archaic survival of this custom in the rather old-fashioned humorous use by some people of the expression ‘Mine Host’ to refer to the landlord of an establishment such as an inn. This ‘mine’ was pronounced not only as it still is /maɪn/ but also very often in a weakform that has long been obsolete as /mɪn/. As a result of hearing things like ‘mine Ann’ or ‘mine Ed’ or ‘mine Ell’ spoken with that reduced /mɪn/ in ways that sounded no diff·rent from the way they were pronouncing ‘my Nan’ or ‘my Ned’ or ‘my Nell’ with my reduced to /mɪ/, people often tended to think that the names they’d heard used werent Ann, Ed or Ell but instead Nan, Ned or Nell. In this way by mistake various new names came into existence. And these new names began to be given pet forms like Nanny and Nancy and Neddy and Nellie.

    That James shdve become Jimmy isnt too surprising when we consider how Jamie spoken quickly, may sound, especially from Scottish speakers, very like Jimmy. The change from Will to Bill is much less expectable tho it did only convert its initial approximant bilabial consonant into a ‘stronger’ plosive correlate. The change from Margaret to Mag and then to Meg and further to Peg at least preserved a bilabial initial consonant but the jump to Moll or Poll wou·d’ve been unlikely to’ve been predicted.
    Other rather capricious developments have included monosyllabic short forms produced by changing Rob to Bob and even Nob, Dob or Hob. These have led to the patronymics Dobson and Hobson. Again we find the reduction of Richard not merely to Rich but also to Rick and even very commonly to Dick from which we get Dixon. The name Philip has been rather fancifully contracted to Pip. Among those who at one time used the curious pet form Tetty for Elizabeth was the great Dr Johnson (for his wife). Another common eighteenth-century pet name was Sukey for Susan. Tamsin (nowadays taken to be Cornish but actually only having survived in Cornwall longest) was derived from Thomasina possibly first used in Scotland where Tam has been a common variant of Tom.
    Some hypocorisms have been inspired by grown-ups imitating infant speech. Sometimes a child has been called Buffy becoz as an infant she sed her name Elizabeth like /lɪzbᴧf/. The Queen has been well known to have a family pet name that has been sed to’ve come from her infant saying of her name Elizabeth sounding like ‘Lilibet’.