Archive 30 of JWL Blog


Readers who need explanations of any of the abbreviations used may find them at Section 1 of the Home Page.

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22/09/2010The Pn of the word ROOM#300
21/09/2010More Phantom Wyns#299
20/09/2010That'll teach you#298
18/09/2010The Institutional Term RP#297
17/09/2010Some Phantom Wyns and Yods#296
07/09/2010EFL Phonetics at Singapore#295
05/08/2010New Transcription Ex Solution#293
04/08/2010Bits of Linguistic Jokery#292
03/08/2010A New Transcription Exercise#291

Blog 300

The 22nd of September 2010

The Pn of the word ROOM

On the matter of the GB (General British) pn (pronunciation) of the word room which John Wells has discussed in his phonetic blog today I’d like to add the following.

In Daniel Jones’s time his EPD (English Pronouncing Dictionary) from 1917 to 1956 always gave priority to the form /rʊm/ with /ruːm/ only given as a variant. In 1937 he first added the note “The use of the variant ruːm appears to be very much on the increase”. (He withdrew the ‘very’ in 1956). When Gimson took it over he left it like that in 1963 but put /ruːm/ first from 1972.

In OED1 (the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary) in 1909 Murray gave only /uː/ as had John Walker in his Critical Pronouncing Dictionary (1791 revised to 1845 and later) which Murray wdve known well.  In 1885 in his Elementarbuch des Gesprochenen Englisch Henry Sweet used /rʊm/. OED2 in 1989 added the variant /rʊm/; OED3 at September 2010 maintained that /uː, ʊ/ order as one wdve expected from seeing it in the ODP (Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation) of 2001. Currently the Wells LPD (Longman Pronunciation Dictionary) and Roach et al in EPD 2006 also agree on giving /uː/ first.

At bedroom in OED1 in 1887 Murray gave only /uː/. OED2 likewise gave only /uː/ for it. For bedroom Jones only ever gave /ʊ/. Gimson gave /bedrʊm/ first. So does EPD2006 but not LPD. I can’t remember ever hearing for ‘roomy’ anything but /ruːmi/ even from people who usually say /rʊm/ but it isnt a very common word. I believe /rʊm/ is the Queen’s usual version and has been for many but not all members of the Royal Family in the past at least.
It’s my general impression that the minority /ʊ/ form is rather more favoured in the  southeast especially London than elsewhere. Currently it’s to be he'rd eg from eg David Cameron and David Miliband.

Growing up in (monoglot non-Welsh-speaking) Cardiff I perceived /rʊm/ as completely alien. I never remember hearing it from anyone else from South Wales. However, any other form than /blʊmɪn/ for ‘blooming’ (as the euphemism for the nauty word ‘bloody’) seems quite alien to me. I suspect that the form “/blʊmzbri/” Wells quoted from a correspondent cd be a hyper-adaptation to a more fashionable style.

As far as compounds like bedroom are concerned, I find it surprising that no lexicographer seems to be aware that large numbers of them (OED lists over 700) are widely pronounced with schwa ie as /bedrəm/ or even as /bedrm̩/ with a syllabic /m/. When I say this I’m not only thinking of the increasing numbers of mainly younger GB speakers that make little or no distinction between their /ʊ/ and /ə/.

Blog 299

The 21st of September 2010

More Phantom Wyns

Tami Date has now asked this question further to our recent discussion at Blog 296.
How about 'cooperate' and 'go on'?  Don't some native speakers (mainly Americans?) pronounce them with a linking wyn?” Of course he’s right that some speakers occasionally may utter “Go on!” in a way that from motives of extreme emphasis and/or expressiveness cause it to be changed from its normal lexical type of articulation. On such an occasion one may wish to transcribe the result non-phonemically as [`gəʊ ‶wɒn] with stretching distortion that cou’d express for example intense impatience. However, that must happen on only the very tiniest fraction of the number of times the expression occurs. And I very much dou’t that Americans do this any more offen than do British people of equivalent social backgrounds etc.

Such an “epenthetic” [w] (I prefer to avoid the term "intrusive" which might be misconstrued as indicating a value judgment; and "linking" seems more suitable for contexts where the sound isnt paralinguistic) could conceivably occur in the same kind of circumstances in saying the word “co-operate”. Tho that word seems to me to be much less likely to crop up in emotive contexts. However, it’s an item that can and has developt a phonemic and not merely paralinguistic wyn for some speakers. The word in merely highly fluent or rapid enunciation may have its /əʊ/ so reduced in articulation as to convert the first two syllables into a single one so that we get /kwɒp`reɪʃn/. Besides that, mainly in demotic speech, I’ve offen he’rd the word in reference to the British organisation entitled the Co-Operative Wholesale Society reduced by some speakers saying “the Co-Op”. It’s then most usually pronounced /`kəʊɒp/ but also may be reduced to the /kwɒp/ and even by some others — more rarely and definitely demotically — to the /kɒp/. (I noted the last two of these in my 1964 MS book Glamorgan Spoken English.) Wyn of course is one of the five English phonemes (/l, r, j, w & h/) which most frequently suffer elision.

Incidentally the word “co-operation” frequently appears to become affected by GB speakers such as media newsreaders (including Chris Aldridge & Neil Sleat current BBC Radio 4 newsreaders and Nick Robinson BBC Political Editor) — not merely unsophisticated people — on roughly half the occasions on which I hear it by the word “corporation” with the result that it is very offen indeed pronounced /kəʊˈɔːpəˎreɪʃn/ and also sometimes /ˈkəʊɔːpəˎreɪʃn/ and /ˈkwɔːpəˎreɪʃn/ and also even /ˈkɔːpəˎreɪʃn/ so that in that extreme case it becomes exactly homophonous with the quite different word “corporation”. I know of no record of any such pronunciations by any lexicographer — not even to warn readers that people who notice them so pronounced are very likely to regard them as “incorrect”. Of course it’s impossible to know whether that last form is simply a misprision, a confusing of one word with the other, rather than a phonetic development but it’s certainly credible that for many it may be the latter.

Blog 298

The 20th of September 2010

That'll teach you

David Deterding’s blog at the 24th of August went something like this:

“My daughter lives in Australia. When I asked her about the recent election, she told me that she had had trouble voting, maybe because she had only registered during the last hour of the last day of the registration period. In response I said to her, "That'll teach you to leave things till the last moment."
So why do we say "That'll teach you to ...." when what we mean is exactly the opposite. What I really meant was: That will give you a good lesson NOT to leave things to the last moment. And how come people understand a sentence like the one I used without batting an eyelid, and usually without noticing that there might be something peculiar about it?” Those questions he asked make perfectly good sense and he was absolutely right to suggest that there was nothing at all unusual about the way he phrased his remark.

I’ve actually only just noticed this blog of his but here’s what I've commented to him about it. I shd say that mainly two features account for this strange-seeming usage. One is the choice of language and the other is, given that choice, the pretty equally predictable choice of prosody. In the first place, the type of phrasing of the words `That’ll teach you to leave things till the lastˏmoment is overwhelmingly offen used to introduce a reference to something the speaker disapproved of. If anyone were to say it not as I’ve indicated but with an ordinary statement intonation such as the matter-of-fact ˈThat’ll ˈteach you | to ˈleave things | till the ˈlast ˎmoment it’d sound crushingly unsympathetic.

Next the intonation pattern most likely to be selected wd almost certainly begin with the first word as the only one accented and spoken on a necessarily rather emphatic high-to-low falling tone. The rest of the pattern wd equally probably be simply a low-level tail to that tone. If it had begun with a low fall it wdve tended to sound too gloomy or even bad-tempered (which he no dout wd have too much affection for her to permit himself). The unvaryingly low level syllables of that tail wd certainly need to have a limited rise at the end to avoid a really far too disanimated effect. The end result of all that is that any negative particle like "not" is going to be quite superfluous because its absence wd be so unlikely to make any difference to the overall impression. And that’s how I think he came to leave it out and how many more of us wd be likely to do the same sort of thing.

Blog 297

The 18th of September 2010

The Institutional Term RP

“Kraut” in his “English Phonetics Blog” has remarked that the “draft revision of March 2010 OED online lists Edward Lluyd as the first coiner of the term 'received pronunciation' ”. I’m not sure that “coiner” is the most appropriate term to apply to the earliest uses of the phrase that OED quotes which are:
?1710 tr. E. Lluyd Glossography Pref. 4 Neither would it be continue any Orthography very disagreeable to the received Pronunciation of the Words.
1774 J. WALKER Gen. Idea Pronouncing Dict. 17 Let them try if they can dwell on the radical sounds of the a, e, o, and y, in these words without departing from the common and received pronunciation.
I think it was reasonable that OED shdve quoted these early occurrences of the collocation but I take them to be merely precursors to rather than examples of an institutionalised usage which is how one categorises “Received Pronunciation”.

I shd say the same of their further quotations tho praps less emphatic’ly:  
1869 A. J. ELLIS On Early Eng. Pronunc. I. I. 13 The alphabet required for writing the theoretically received pronunciation of literary English.
1889 A. J. ELLIS On Early Eng. Pronunc. V. v. 6 Received pronunciation, or that of pronouncing dictionaries and educated people.
It doesnt seem to me that in these Ellis was setting out to establish an institutional term but only that he’s employing a preferred adjective selected from half a dozen or more approximately suitable alternatives. Unlike Wyld and Jones he never capitalised the phrase giving even its abbreviation as just “rp”. This feeling is confirmed for me by a remark of his I quoted at ¶5 of Section 7 Item 3 on this website from his 1877 Pronunciation for Singers. There he referred to
... the vowels recognised in the “received”, “refined”, “literary”, “educated”, “cultivated”, or rather “central” pronunciation of any language, as distinct from the “local”.
In On Early English Pronunciation (1869 p.23) he contrasted his day when one could “recognise a received pronunciation all over the country” with earlier periods when one could not so fittingly refer to such a “general English pronunciation” where we see “general” used as another synonym.

When we come to Wyld and Jones we see regular capitalisation eg
1913 H. C. WYLD in Mod. Lang. Teaching 9 261/2 When he speaks of Standard English, he is, I believe, referring to what I now call Received Standard.
Daniel Jones, in the reprinted revised edition of 1926 of his English Pronouncing Dictionary, sed apologetically and for the first time, in its Revised Introduction at p. viii  ‘... I call it “Received Pronunciation” (abbreviation RP), for want of a better term’ adding lamely ‘I wish it to be understood, however, RP means merely “widely understood pronunciation” and that I do not hold it up as a standard which everyone is recommended to adopt.’ He had in fact already been identifying it a couple of paragraphs previously with statements including “The pronunciation represented in this book is that most usually heard in everyday speech in the families of Southern English persons who have been educated at the great public boarding-schools.”

Blog 296

The 17th of September 2010

Some Phantom Wyns and Yods

In the course of a series of discussions that have been going on about whether “linking” yods and wyns are (to be recognised as) present in certain words, that old frend of this blog Tami Date came up with the following:
Perhaps this is a silly question, but is pronouncing 'genuine' as 'genu-wine' too casual? I think I heard it in conversations a few times. Or for that matter, in the old movie The African Queen I remember Humphrey Bogart sounding like "hero-wine" for "heroine" ”.

If one looks the word up in the online Webster one finds gen·u·ine adj \ˈjen-yə-wən, -(ˌ)win \. The American entry in ODP (the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation), by contrast with the British one, also uses a transcription with a wyn (ie a /w/) for its American entries. If this is me'nt to be interpreted as not just  a mere transcriptional preference but as suggesting that the ordinary British and American versions of the word clearly diverge in the speaker’s choice of phonemes at that point then I think it’s misleading. As regards representations in transcriptions with a wyn, if such a word is spoken with normal fluency it seems to me pointless to claim that it’s being sed with or without a wyn because contrast between the two versions is completely neutralised. (The same wd go for the British possibility /`ʤenjəʊɪn/ if anyone were to choose to transcribe it that way). In my opinion, only by distorting the word cd anyone make it correspond closely to one as opposed to any another of these transcriptions. So Tami’s words "too casual" wd be less appropriate perhaps than "too unusual". As far I can remember Bogart’s manner of articulation in The African Queen, I suspect it was from time to time a little other than absolutely ordinary.

Tami also askt "How about 'Indian' and 'Pontiac'? In Japanese, we often say 'daiyamondo' for 'diamond', 'taiya' for 'tire/tyre', 'piyano' for 'piano', etc".
Of the three major British pronouncing dictionaries LPD uses its compression "loop" sign thus /`ɪndiˬən/  to indicate both possibilities (equally) for Indian ie either /`ɪndiən/ or /`ɪndjən/ perfectly properly in my view. For Pontiac it gives only /`pɒnt i ӕk/ and the rhythmic'ly corresponding American equivalent, again reasonably because the presence of the distinctly strong vowel /ӕ/ of the last syllable usually militates agenst reduction of the medial vowel /i/ to a yod (ie "semivowel" approximant /j/) the use of which wd prob'bly give the impression of a clumsily hurried articulation. The Cambridge EPD (English Pronouncing Dictionary) elects quite reasonably not to record such a fairly obviously possible compression. (The use for the ODP British entry at both words of /ɪ/ inste'd of /i/ for the medial vowel, in contrast with the practice of the others who’ve adopted the symbol /i/ elsewhere, has no apparent significance). Any pronunciation of either diamond or tire which undou'tedly justified transcription with a yod after the /aɪ/ wd certainly sound unusual. As to piano (ie the keyboard instrument) the online Webster only gives \ pē-ˈa-(ˌ)nō..\ with three syllables which, for such a common word, rather taxes one’s credulity. The ODP American entry takes the same line but LPD and EPD both very properly list a yod variant. No-one lists a version with a yod between two vowels.

Blog 295

The 7th of September 2010

EFL Phonetics at Singapore

A fellow EFL phonetics teacher Gloria Poedjosoedarmo from the US operating in Singapore — I’m guessing she pronounces her name /ˌpudʒoʊsu`dɑrmoʊ/ — sed 6 Sep 10 that “For [Singapore] children in school ... By Primary 4/4th grade they are usually expected to recognise the phonetic symbols ... so that they can look words up in a dictionary and find out how to pronounce them ... there's a potential problem in that most of the approved dictionaries represent British RP, whereas no one in Singapore — except British expats — speaks it. (And increasingly, even the British expats, who tend to be younger, speak Estuary English.)”.

She also sed “teachers, who all speak English with native-speaker proficiency (though not necessarily exactly like either British or American speakers —increasingly it's a bit of a mix but with more American features due to "influence from the media", as they cheerfully admit themselves.)”  I applaud their cheerfulness. I suspect that they’re in the vanguard of a very likely increasing development in which eventually no-one anywhere will think such mixtures at all remarkable. That’s not to say that the differences arent intresting at least to some of us but they dont matter a bit so long as communication is easy. To those who may, like me, find such differences fascinating I commend my admittedly rather lengthy article The General American and General British Pronunciations of English at §3.1 on this site.
Regarding that remark “no one in Singapore — except British expats — speaks it”, if it simply means that all those people who’ve received years of instruction in English with the target of an “RP” model have nevertheless been quite strongly influenced by their native languages and/or non-British accents in the qualities of sounds they use, then it’s nothing at all remarkable. It would indeed be surprising if they’d learnt to produce most of their sounds exactly like those of any English native speakers — even praps undesirable. One imagines that they’ve acquired for the most part reasonably intelligible pronunciations.

From a purely practical point of view, saying no-one speaks “RP” there  is about as meaningful (and meaningless) as saying that practically no-one in Britain speaks it or that practically no-one in the US speaks General American. Certainly David Crystal in his 1995 Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language sed (p.365) “"RP" is spoken by “less than 3% of the British people”. Whatever that may mean, dictionaries don’t/can’t instruct their readers on what sound qualities to use: they only record which phonemes to employ in saying words. Those of us who arent speakers of “pure RP” or not particularly regional GA still almost invariably select the same phonemes in most words if we have anything much in the way of education. The London-flavoured accents that are popularly known as “Estuary English” have exactly the same sets of phonemes as “RP” even if in realising those phonemes their speakers  employ sound qualities with various, if less fashionable, still relatively slight differences from “RP”. This embarrassingly parochially named “RP” (a term these days rejected as outdated by many of us) is such a very useful model because its set of phonemes is the common denominator, the common property if you like, for a very high percentage indeed of UK and other British people who don’t largely speak some regional dialect.

Blog 294

The 5th of September 2010


John Wells wonder’d recently (24 Aug) why “the name of the island, bɑːˈbeɪdɒs (or the like), is usually pronounced in BrE with a short vowel and voiceless fricative in the final syllable. In comparable words such as tornado, desperado, avocado, torpedo we pluralize in the usual way with z and retain long əʊ”.

I’ve since been pondering a reply as follows. John was offer’d some sensible comments especially
Jongseong said Since the plural etymology of Barbados is not apparent to English speakers, could the analogy instead be with island names ending in -os like Mykonos and Samos? and John Cowan said
"Barbadoes" was indeed an earlier English spelling, doubtless reflecting an earlier perception of plurality — though just what is plural, or indeed just what is bearded, about the place is a matter of dispute.

There’s no dou't that originally the name was Portuguese and plural. Murray in the OED in 1885 sed the word is “believed to be derived from Pg. las barbadas ‘bearded,’ epithet applied by the Portuguese to the Indian fig-trees growing there; whence formerly ‘the Barbadoes’ ”. That it shd be elliptical for ‘the island of bearded fig-trees’ (figueiras barbadas) is I suppose credible but it’s uncomfortably puzzling that it wasnt known as ‘barbadas’. That conundrum will probably never be solved to everyone’s satisfaction. There seems to be no evidence of spellings in English other than the surviving Barbados and that formerly common variant Barbadoes, a form which clearly indicates recognition of the word as plural.

The island was from the early seventeenth century, as it still is, English-speaking. All its placenames appear to be English. It seems it was uninhabited when the first English-speaking settlers arrived around 1625 with the literate among them of course knowing that it already had a name spelt “barbados”. It’s perfectly possible that divergency in the interpretation of that final s was present from the beginning. What’s certain is that in “anglicising” the word they changed its strest vowel to match native words comparably spelt — exactly as we did with tornado, (and did originally with armada, desperado etc) but dont maintain doing with the mainly remodelled loans like aficionado, amontillado, avocado, bravado etc. Cf §3.7.III.4 on this site.

So it even now just about has, and for a long time has had, rival pns which treat the ending as either the plural it historic'ly was or as a singular noun ending -os. This latter practice might’ve been favoured by some of the more educated settlers who wd’ve been at home with singular words ending with the spelling -os. Besides the Greek placenames like the ones instanced by Jongseong they and other literates might well have been familiar with Greek words like bathos, chaos, cosmos, Eros, ethos, pathos etc with their pns ending /-ɒs/. The classical languages wd’ve been much more familiar to them than the Iberian ones. The island group to which Barbados belongs received its English name’s now predominant pn from similar historic'ly unsuitable (Ancient) Greek influence viz /ӕn`tɪliːz/ ie Antilles. The same kind of tendency is seen in what we’ve done to eg Andes, Averroes, Cervantes and (particularly in the UK) Los Angeles. It can also be seen acting on Mercedes and even in relatively unborrowed German words like Moscheles and Pilates (even possibly also on the Indian Ganges). It shows in the common tradition (formerly more widely and currently by the minority of GB speakers who still preserve /-ɪz/ in -ies plurals of other words) of saying Indies as if it were written *Indes (cf on this site §3.2.13). It even rather bizarrely must account for the fact that at least one well-known British family who’ve inherited the name most offen spelt Figgis in the less appropriate spelling Figes pronounce their name as /`faɪʤiːz/.

LPD3 and EPD17 currently agree completely in recording only the non-plurals /-dɒs, -dəs/ and GA /-doʊs/ (which is what we might expect rather than /-dɑːs/) only. LPD1&2 had had a  /-dəʊz/ variant. Jones had had only /-doʊz/ from 1917 until he added the /-dɒs/ variant in 1956. ODP gives /-dəs/ and secondly /-dɒs/ with GA similarly /-dəs/ alternantly /-doʊs/. Webster (online) gives first place to GA /-doʊs/ and /-dəs & -doʊz/ as alternants. So the treatment as plural seems just about to only survive as a GA subvariant. American Heritage Dictionary offers /-doʊs, -doʊz & -dəs/. Howjsay sez /-dɒs/. OED2 of 1989 added /-dɒs/ after Murray’s original sole /-doʊz/ which last I like best and intend to go on using. I’ve gone past minding being old-fashioned. But it’s been, as so offen, victory  to the spelling.

Blog 293

The 5th of August 2010

New Transcription Ex Solution

Remember that many alternatives are possible. Only ones are shown here that are approximately as common as the alternative not given even tho the one not used might well be what the spelling suggests.
1.    ˈHow many had he `had? — One over the `eight, I should ˏthink.
a.    ˈhaʊ meni əd i `hӕd? — wᴧn əʊvə ði `eɪt aɪ ʃd ˏθɪŋk.
2.    What am I `wanted for? — You ˈare not wanted at `all. ˈNeither am `I.
a.    wɒt əm aɪ `wɒntɪd fɔː? — ju ˈɑːnt wɒntɪd ə`tɔːl. ˈnaɪðər əm `aɪ.
3.    `Billy will ˏgo with you. — Billy is going `nowhere. `Not to`ˏnight.
a.    `bɪli l ˏgəʊ wɪð ju. — bɪli z gəʊɪŋ `nəʊweə. `nɒt tə`ˏnaɪt.
4.    It would be `nice if it would stop `ˏraining,| `would not it?
a.    ɪt əd bi `naɪs ɪf ɪt əd stɒp `ˏreɪnɪŋ, `wʊdn(t) ɪt?
5.    There is ˈnothing `for it. We will ˈhave to `pay the fine. — How `can we?
a.    ðeəz ˈnᴧθɪŋ `fɔːr ɪt. wil ˈhӕv tə `peɪ ðə faɪn. — haʊ `kӕn wi.
6.    ˈThat is ˏkind of you. — ˈFar `from it. — `No. It ˈreally `is `very kind.
a.    ˈðӕts ˏkaɪnd əv ju. — ˈfɑː `frɒm ɪt. — `nəʊ. ɪt ˈrɪəli `ɪz `veri kaɪnd.
7.    Has he `had his `hair ˏcut? — Of `course he has, ˏsilly! `Long ago.
a.    (h)əz i `hӕd ɪz `heə ˏkᴧt? — əv `kɔːs i hӕz, ˏsɪli! `lɒŋ əgəʊ.
8.    England and `ˏDwales? ˈNever `heard of ˏthose! What `are “dwales”?
a.    ɪŋglənd ən `ˏdweɪlz? ˈnevə `hɜːd əv ˏðəʊz! wɒt `ɑː dweɪlz?
9.    Where `is he at this ˎmoment? — At the ˈhospital A and `E department.
a.    weər `ɪz i ət ðɪs ˎməʊmənt? — ət ðə ˈhɒspɪdl eɪ ən `iː     dɪpɑːpmənt.
10.    They must ˈtry them them`selves, then. — They had ˈbetter `ˏnot.
a.    ðeɪ məs ˈtraɪ ðm ðm`selvz, ðen. — ðeɪd ˈbetə `ˏnɒt.
11.    ˈDid they ˈsay they were Joe and `ˏAnn | or Jo and `Dan?
a.    ˈdɪd ðeɪ ˈseɪ ðeɪ wə ʤəʊ ən `ˏӕn | ɔː ʤəʊ ən `dӕn?
12.    `I am going to the ˏball as Na`poleon. ˈWho are `you going as?
a.    `aɪm gəʊɪŋ tə ðə ˏbɔːl əz nə`pəʊliən. ˈhuː ə `juː gəʊɪŋ ӕz?
13.    Does ˈthis ˈtrain |ˈstop at ˈall ˏstations. — It ˈdoes not stop at `all.
a.    dz ˈðɪs ˈtreɪn | ˈstɒp ət ˈɔːl ˏsteɪʃnz? — ɪt ˈdᴧzn stɒp ə`tɔːl.
14.    ˈWhy is a ˈshort ˈnegro| like a `white man? — Because he’s ˈnot a tall `black.
a.    ˈwaɪ ɪz ə ˈʃɔːt ˈniːgrəʊ | laɪk ə `waɪt mӕn? — bɪkɒz iz ˈnɒt əˈtɔːl `blӕk.
15.    At the ˈvillage ˏchurch | they ate ˈDutch ˏcheeses | and ˈdrank `orange juice.
a.    ət ðə ˈvɪlɪʤ ˏʧɜːʧ | ðeɪ et ˈdᴧʧ ˏʧiːzɪz | ən ˈdrӕŋk `ɒrɪnʤ ʤuːs.
16.    We had some ˈScottish ˏbeef |and some ˈred ˏwine | and some `cheese or other.
a.    wi hӕd sm ˈskɒtɪʃ ˏbiːf | n sm ˈred ˏwaɪn | ӕn sᴧm `ʧiːz ɔːr ᴧðə.
17.    ˈFather’s bringing home some `missionary for ˏdinner. — `That will be ˏnice.
a.    ˈfɑːðəz brɪŋɪŋ həʊm sᴧm `mɪʃnri fə ˏdɪnə. — `ðӕt l bi ˏnaɪs.
18.    She’s giving him a `ˏpainting | that she will have ˈdone by ˎChristmas.
a.    ʃiz gɪvɪŋ ɪm ə `ˏpeɪntɪŋ | ðət ʃil əv ˈdᴧn baɪ ˎkrɪsməs.
19.    He’s going to `give them to me, ˏis not he? ˈTell him his `father said to.
a.    hiz gənə `gɪv ðm tuː mi, ˏɪzn i? ˈtel ɪm ɪz `fɑːðə sed tu.
20.    We are ˈon our `own from here ˏon, ˏare not we? `Not that `that ˏmatters.
a.    wɪər ˈɒn ɑːr `əʊn frm hɪər ˏɒn, ˏɑːnt wi? `nɒt ðət `ðӕt ˏmӕtəz.
21.    I was `wondering what it was that was ˏkeeping them. — ˈSo was `I.
a.    aɪ wz `wᴧndrɪŋ wɒt ɪt wɒz ðət wz ˏkiːpɪŋ ðm. — ˈsəʊ wəz `aɪ.
22.    We `lost our `ˏway | and got ourselves `ˏterribly `muddy. — ˈSo were `we.
a.    wi `lɒst ɑː `ˏweɪ | ən gɒt ɑːselvz `ˏterəbli `mᴧdi. — ˈsəʊ wə `wiː.
23.    `If you `ˏwant some| `take some. They are `perfectly `ˏwholesome.
a.    `ɪf ju `wɒnt sᴧm, `teɪk sᴧm. ðeə `pɜːfɪkli `ˏhəʊlsm.
24.    We ˈsaw him in his `house. He always has his `ˏhands | in his `pockets.
a.    wi ˈsɔː ɪm ɪn ɪz `haʊs. i ɔːwɪz hӕz ɪz `ˏhӕnz | ɪn ɪz `pɒkɪts.
25.    ˈWill you ˈlet us have a `party, ˏplease? —  ˈLet us ˈsee what `Father says.
a.    ˈwl ju ˈlet əs hӕv ə `pɑːti, ˏpliːz? — ˈlets ˈsiː wɒt `fɑːðə sez.

Blog 292

The 4th of August 2010

Bits of Linguistic Jokery

Still thinking about things that might entertain my EAL students while having some sort of relevance to their studies, the other day I remembered that after years of wondering what to call certain jokey items I’m rather fond of I’d finally hit on a really satisfying term. I had a vague idea that I’d come across a collection of them called ‘Nonsense Library’ but I’ve never been able to trace it — if I didnt dream it up in the first place. Anyway it was too imprecise because any sort of title was involved not just those of books. The term I was satisfied with with was “Authorship Puns”. Best way to explain is to quote some. One or two are very well known, I imagine, and some others I’ve concocted. I’ve been thinking for years of writing to the correspondence editors of some newspaper or other with an appeal for more to add to my collection. Another thing that reminded me about them was John Wells’s quotations from “Mishearings” he found in his Guardian this week now that we’ve entered ‘the silly season’ — a term I can’t define better than the OED’s “the months of August and September, when newspapers supply the lack of real news by articles or discussions on trivial topics”. Here’s a few:

The Demand for Alcohol by Phyllis Glass
Woman of Property by Iona Mansion
The Troubles of Old Age by Gerry Attrick
Telephone Your Man by Gib McCall
Rough Terrain by Antony Rhodes
What Society Needs by Laura Norder
Shorter Skirts by Seymour Legge
Dog’s Delight by Nora Bone
Pussy’s Revenge by Claud Hands
How He Got So Fat by Henrietta Lott
One Minute to Get the Train by Willie Makitt

EAL students may enjoy spotting the puns and advanced ones can try specifying the phonetic processes of extreme colloquialism some of them display by their elisions, assimilations, weakenings and consonantal insertions. These are of course usually the preoccupations of schoolchildren. So are riddles and such things as “Knock-Knocks” like the following which praps lend themselves rather less to flights of imagination than authorship puns. They’re all of course preceded by Knock, knock! – Who’s there?
Alex — Alex who?  — Alex Plain-Layter
Fido — Fido who? — Fido wanna tell you I shan’t.
Howard — Howard who? — Howard Eyno.
Ammonia — Ammonia who? — Ammonia Gatecrasher.
Ivan — Ivan Who? — I’ve an idea I’m not welcome.

I wonder how widespre'd such things are around the rest of the world besides in England. Any information on that topic and especially further examples of them wd be gratefully received.

Blog 291

The 3rd of August 2010

A New Transcription Exercise

Here’s another example of the seasonal preoccupation I mentioned in Blog 288.
This is a challenging exercise only suitable for definitely advanced students.
“Solution” to follow in a later blog.
Send me yours as a PDF if you like.

Transcribe these as fluent speech but observing the breaks in rhythm indicated by “|”.
Represent ordinary conversational (ie not highly colloquial) usages.
Employ contractions if the spellings don’t represent natural present-day usage.
Copy the tone marks and consider how the intonations affect the rhythms.
The dash “—” indicates a change of speaker.

  1. ˈHow many had he `had? — One over the `eight, I should ˏthink.
  2. What am I `wanted for? — You ˈare not wanted at `all. ˈNeither am `I.
  3. `Billy will ˏgo with you. — Billy is going `nowhere. `Not to`ˏnight.
  4. It would be `nice if it would stop `ˏraining,| `would not it?
  5. There is ˈnothing `for it. We will ˈhave to `pay the fine. — How `can we?
  6. ˈThat is ˏkind of you. — ˈFar `from it. — `No. It ˈreally `is `very kind.
  7. Has he `had his `hair ˏcut? — Of `course he has, ˏsilly! `Long ago.
  8. England and `ˏDwales? ˈNever `heard of ˏthose! What `are “dwales”?
  9. Where `is he at this ˎmoment? — At the ˈhospital A and `E department.
  10. They must ˈtry them themselves, then. — They had ˈbetter `ˏnot.
  11. ˈDid they ˈsay they were Joe and `ˏAnn| or Jo and `Dan?
  12. `I am going to the ˏball as Na`poleon. ˈWho are `you going as?
  13. Does ˈthis ˈtrain |ˈstop at ˈall ˏstations. — It ˈdoes not stop at `all.
  14. Why is a ˈshort ˈnegro| like a `white man? — Because he’s ˈnot a tall `black.
  15. At the ˈvillage ˏchurch |they ate ˈDutch ˏcheeses| and ˈdrank `orange juice.
  16. We had some ˈScottish ˏbeef |and some ˈred ˏwine| and some `cheese or other.
  17. ˈFather’s bringing home some `missionary for ˏdinner. — `That will be ˏnice.
  18. She’s giving him a `ˏpainting| that she will have ˈdone by ˎChristmas.
  19. He’s going to `give them to me, ˏis not he? ˈTell him his `father said to.
  20. We are ˈon our `own from here ˏon, ˏare not we? `Not that `that ˏmatters.
  21. I was `wondering what it was that was ˏkeeping them. — ˈSo was `I.
  22. We `lost our `ˏway| and got ourselves `ˏterribly `muddy. — ˈSo were `we.
  23. `If you `ˏwant some| `take some. They are `perfectly `ˏwholesome.
  24. We ˈsaw him in his `house. He always has his `ˏhands| in his `pockets.
  25. ˈWill you ˈlet us have a `party, ˏplease? —  ˈLet us ˈsee what `Father says.