Is /ɑ/ a back or central vowel in GA English?

/ɑ/ is called open back unrounded vowel, however it appears in the center bottom of the vowel trapezoid of General American English at . Why? If GA English indeed uses that bottom central vowel, why not represent it with /ä/ (open central unrounded vowel)? The cot-caught merger is out of the scope of this … Read more

Why phonemic symbols are different among dictionaries

I find the phonemic symbols are different for the same word among dictionaries. Take the word “tuck” for example. In Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, its /tʌk/ for both British English and North American English. However, in Kindle’s dictionary which is The New Oxford American Dictionary, it’s /tək/. It doesn’t make sense to me that one word … Read more

Are [ɪ] and [i] are allophones of the same phoneme in English?

I am leaning towards no, but would like confirmation and perhaps an example to illustrate. Answer The short answer is no. In English, the phones [ɪ] and [i] are not just allophones of a single phoneme. There are many minimal pairs like “bit-beat”, “shit-sheet”, “bitch-beach” that establish that [ɪ] and [i] (in a usual English … Read more

Is there any Saxon word that contains /ʒ/?

Is there any Saxon (native) word that contains /ʒ/? All words containing that sound I can think of such as genre, garage, luge, vision, visual, etc. are from French. Answer I would guess not, although I haven’t made an extensive search. There don’t seem to be many possible ways for it to develop according to … Read more

/ə/ in a stressed syllable?

According to this description of the English phonotactics, the schwa /ə/ doesn’t occur in stressed syllables. But Cambridge Dictionary Onlines, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and Longman Pronunciation Dictionary say otherwise: the word “because” has been variously transcribed as /bɪˈkəz/ or /bəˈkəz/. So in which source should I believe? Or is there any error in transcription … Read more

Text for exhibiting different pronunciations

I’m looking for a text that can be used to showcase various differences in pronunciation across English accents. For example, it could include examples of the various splits/mergers (Mary/merry/mary, fern/fir/fur, cot/caught, etc.), and feature words pronounced differently by, e.g., Canadian, American, and British speakers. I once saw such a text referenced in a comment to … Read more

/ɪə/, /eə/, /ʊə/ as phonemes?

From what I understand on phonetics/phonology, /ɪə/, /eə/, /ʊə/ can simply be considered as allophones of /ɪr/, /er/, /ʊr/, but most traditional dictionaries treat them as distinct phonemes. Is that just a learners’ dictionary thing (to denote the clear phonetic differences between major dialects, rhotic or not, etc.) for the sake of convenience or is … Read more