Talk:English phonology

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Lead Section and Phonemes[edit]

The article uses headings and subheadings in a clear and understandable way. There are also good examples used as clarification of concepts. However, I think working on the lead section and making it a bit longer to give a sufficient summary of the content discussed is beneficial. Also, the phoneme section might be a bit confusing for a standard reader to understand. I think it has to be more explicit that a phoneme represents a sound and that English orthography is ambiguous before the example “through” is used. It might be better to give more background before introducing examples. --Oyeung (talk) 02:45, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Why isn't the velarized alveolar lateral approximant in here?[edit]

The Velarized alveolar lateral approximant, represented by ɫ, should be in the phonology table. Many other wikipedia articles cite English with having this, even the Velarized alveolar lateral approximant page itself. Not only that, but on this very page it uses the "ɫ" symbol when describing words like "rebel" and "pail." If all this says this, why doesn't wikipedia have it on the table? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:12, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

You've pointed out an error that I've just fixed. The table should only depict phonemes, not all phones. There is a note on the table that mentions that /l/ is velarized in certain contexts. Is this not enough? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 05:56, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

British Non-Regional Pronunciation[edit]

A new article has been started at British Non-Regional Pronunciation. That may or may not be the best way to handle what seems to be a fairly new piece of terminology. Those of you interested might like to call by there and record your thoughts. --Doric Loon (talk) 13:08, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

"Lure" realized as [loː] ???[edit]

There is a phenomenon in RP where some words can be realized as either (traditionally) /ʊə/ or as (more recently) /ɔː/. Thus, for example, poor can be either /pʊə/ or /pɔː/. In this article's section on "diphthongs" this appears to be covered by the example "lure" (see footnote 2 of this section).

My own native speech is pretty close to RP and I cannot imagine anyone realizing "lure" as [lɔː] or [loː]. The only realization I can conceive of is /ljʊə/. The inserted /j/ completely rules out the monophthongal pronunciation, although I suppose someone with yod-dropping in this particular word might have other possibilities. If this is true, then I must have lived outside the UK for too long :)

Now I don't have access to the source cited to support this (Roach p. 240), but I do wonder whether that source does in fact use the example "lure". Is it possible that it actually uses some other word, such as "poor" or "moor", and that this was changed to "lure" so that all the diphthong examples would begin with "l"? If someone has access to the source, could they check? Cheers, Grover cleveland (talk) 01:28, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

It's been a while since I looked at Roach (2004) but I don't think there's any problem with changing the examples to pair and pure. /l/ does complicate matters. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 04:14, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
Well, my concerns about "lure" would apply equally to "pure". Might I suggest "poor" as a less controversial example? Here is Wells (see especially the second sentence): "[T]here are plenty of RP speakers who pronounce some or all of poor, moor, your and sure with /ɔː/, and they are on the increase. Words in which the vowel is preceded by a consonant plus yod are relatively resistant to the shift from /ʊə/ to /ɔː/, e.g. pure, furious and cure itself..." (Wells, Accents of English 2, p. 287 Google Books link). Cheers. Grover cleveland (talk) 09:43, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
Similar thing in GA. Lure and pure are never pronounced /or/, while poor almost always is, even though lure is not palatalized in GA. (Lure comes out "lurr".) kwami (talk) 10:02, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
Poor is not "almost always" pore in GenAm. It sounds quite rustic in American. —Angr 11:12, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
All right, in Los Angeles it is /or/. But lure is not. kwami (talk) 11:23, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually, in unguarded speech, "poor" has been [ˈpoɹ] in most of the places I've lived in the U.S. Certainly in both Texas and Utah. In the higher registers of English, of course, spelling pronunciations take over and one hears [ˈpʊɹ]. (Taivo (talk) 14:16, 14 December 2008 (UTC))
I'd like to point out that in response to the fact that while yes, words such as "furious" and "cure", tend to be more resistant to being realized with an /o:/ sound in RP and Estuary English, they instead are accounted for by the trend in pronouncing them as /fjʊ:ɹius/ and /kjʊ:/ by an increasing number of anglophones. Mingeyqla (talk) 18:39, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
Wow. So is "cure" a homonym of "cue"/"queue" (both for me /kju:/), or are they distinguished by vowel quality? Grover cleveland (talk) 20:41, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

They are distinguished by a final [ɹ] and [ʊ] in "cure" and [u] (or a fronted diphthong variant) in American English. (Taivo (talk) 20:54, 14 December 2008 (UTC))

/kju:/ is different from /kjʊ:/ Mingeyqla (talk) 21:05, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
Nonetheless, I foresee a merger in the near future :) Grover cleveland (talk) 06:32, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
But not of the CURE vowel with the GOOSE vowel. The CURE vowel is clearly on its way out in many accents, but what it will merge with is the FORCE/NORTH vowel and (in some words, in American English) the NURSE vowel. —Angr 08:30, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
In America, the two vowels are heading in different directions--in most dialects the "cue" vowel is stable because of the front unrounded on-glide, while the "cure" vowel is lowering. (Taivo (talk) 12:44, 15 December 2008 (UTC))

Historical section is confused[edit]

Is the historical section meant to be a comprehensive list of developments in pronunciation since Middle English, or a brief summary? It is currently neither, and the list of developments included seems random. Is the "bad-lad" split (which is included) really more important than the loss of the velar fricative, the foot-strut split, pre-fricative broadening of "bath" and "cloth", or the diphthong shift (none of which are mentioned)? Seems as though something should be done, but I have a six-month old baby calling... Grover cleveland (talk) 05:12, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

/ɪɚ/ vs /ɪɹ/?[edit]

I'm not a native English speaker so I can't be sure about these points, but:

In Rhotic dialects, words like pair, poor, and peer can be analyzed as diphthongs, although other descriptions analyze them as vowels with /ɹ/ in the coda.

The "can be analyzed" suggests that there is some arbitrarity in the trascription which doesn't reflect any objective fact about the actual pronunciation. I don't think so: there are dialects where mirror and clearer rhyme (see e.g. the lyrics to "Master of Puppets"), so in those dialects clear is /klɪɹ/. On the other hand, if there are rhotic dialects where they don't rhyme (I don't know whether there are ones), clear is /klɪɚ/ in them. (On the other hand, they're just /klɪə(ɹ)/, /klɪəɹə(ɹ)/, and /mɪɹə(ɹ)/ in non-rhotic dialects.)

As a result, originally monosyllabic words like those just mentioned came to rhyme with originally disyllabic words like seer, doer, higher, power.

Huh? My dictionary transcribes seer as /siːə/ (and I would have been very surprised if it didn't, as it's the verb see /siː/ plus the suffix -er /ə(ɹ)/), but beer as /bɪə/. So, do they rhyme? Which is wrong, the article or the dictionary? (Does that depend on the dialect?) --A. di M. (formerly Army1987) — Deeds, not words. 11:37, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Mirror and clearer rhyme as far as I know only in North American English (and not even in all accents there), but there are rhotic accents outside North America where they don't rhyme. In Scottish English, for example, they're /ˈmɪrər/ and /ˈkliːrər/. +Angr 20:11, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Without prejudice to the main point here: There is ALWAYS some arbitrariness in any phonetic transcription, no matter how much it tries to represent objective facts about the actual pronunciation! GeorgeTSLC (talk) 03:39, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Aspirated p's and t's[edit]

Just curious as to why Icelandic phonology lists aspirated t's and p's as separate phonemes from t and p, but not this article? Doesn't English also make common distinctions between the two? I.e isn't the initial t in say, Thomas and total, two different sounds? Or the p in pot vs stop. What makes Icelandic so special in this regard? More to the point, why aren't they included here? Peter Greenwell (talk) 15:00, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

In English, aspirated and unaspirated stops are not separate phonemes, as they are in Icelandic. Thomas and total begin with the same (aspirated) allophone of the same phoneme, while pot and stop have two different allophones of the same phoneme. +Angr 18:06, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
At a rather broad level, there are three phones, [tʰ t d]. Historically, [tʰ t] are allophones. In child language acquisition, [t d] are allophones. That is, if we transcribe tie as /tʰai/, and die as /dai/, then for sty we would need to choose between ?/stʰai/ and ?/sdai/, not a happy choice for most people. Or we could transcribe die as /tai/ (as we would in Icelandic), also not a happy choice for most people. So we follow the historical derivation and avoid ?/tʰ/ altogether. kwami (talk) 20:35, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Super super late response, is this allowed? But I wanted to add: basically, the difference between [pʰ] and [p] is automatic and meaningless. If you were to pronounce spin as aspirated [spʰɪn], people would barely notice the difference.
Granted, if you were to pronounce pin as unaspirated [pɪn], it could be potentially problematic because the phoneme /b/ may be partially or fully devoiced [b̥~p] so a very telling difference is in fact the aspiration, and it could be mistaken for the word bin. (For example if a native English speaker were to listen to someone speaking a language where aspiration is the actual distinguishing factor - and I want to say for example Thai because it's a funny sounding language - sometimes some of their [p] will sound like a /b/). However /b/ is usually devoiced around other voiceless consonants: complementary distribution is the relationship where one element is found in one set of environments and the other element is found in a non-intersecting (i.e. complementary) set of environments. It often indicates that two superficially different elements are the same linguistic unit at a deeper level.
Icelandic, on the other hand, has the phonemes /p/ (written 'b' in the orthography) and /pʰ/ (written 'p'), which COULD be argued for English (though as mentioned, makes less sense than a voiced-voiceless /b/-/p/ distinction). The 3 different phones [b p pʰ] are definitely not all separate phonemes.
So in summary: the phonemes of Icelandic are unaspirated-aspirated /p/-/pʰ/ because Icelandic is a different language that is pronounced differently. (Disclaimer: I don't know what I'm talking about.) (talk) 19:27, 31 August 2015 (UTC)


The article currently states, as if it were uncontroversially accepted, that Most languages of the world syllabify CVCV and CVCCV sequences as /CV.CV/ and /CVC.CV/ or /CV.CCV/, with consonants preferentially acting as the onset of a syllable containing the following vowel. English is unusual in this regard, in that stressed syllables attract following consonants This is a strong claim to make, and it appears to be based solely on Wells's article here. Yet even in that article Wells makes clear that he is proposing a new way of syllabifying English words, and that "many analysts" would disagree. This article ought to make clear that this view of syllabification is only one among many others, and that it is far from universally accepted. Grover cleveland (talk) 04:38, 6 September 2009 (UTC)


Calling sphragistics, sclerosis, sthenics, phthalic, and thlipsis "loanwords" seems pointless. All of these words have been neutralized and are no longer foreign words. There is an obvious distinction between these words and words like "bwana" and "schvartze". The American Heritage Dictionary defines any word borrowed from another language as a loanword, including words like "very".[1] This means that prize, language, shrimp, pure, beautiful, tube, during, cute, argue, music, view, suit, Zeus, huge, lurid, skill, sphere, scream, square, student, and skewer are all loanwords. The aforementioned Greek loanwords clearly belong in this class. Perhaps the best solution is to use a term other than "loanword" to refer to words like "bwana" and "schvartze". — The Man in Question (gesprec) · (forðung) 20:36, 8 September 2009 (UTC)

"Recent loanword" might suffice. Or loanwords from X language since the __ century/era. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 22:53, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
The distinction I understand to be made here is that between inherited clusters, and clusters which only exist in loanwords. The choice of examples is not relevant. The likes of "Zeus" would be included by virtue of the cluster having arisen during the development of English, even if originally a loanword.
As a non-nativ speaker my opinion may not count, but "sphragistics" thru "thlipsis" are definitely Greek to me! At best I would be willing to concede them to be part of very specialized registers of English, but by that criterion "bwana", "zloty" or "schmuck" would be in just as well (if some not more so).--Trɔpʏliʊmblah 18:50, 9 September 2009 (UTC)
I think most native speakers would agree that thlipsis is not "English". Certainly 99%++ of native speakers would see a /θl/ onset as foreign, and be utterly unable to come up with an example on their own. /sf/, on the other hand, is fairly common, even if mostly in literary or technical language. Any child who's had geometry in school, or watched documentaries on Egypt has /sf/. That can't be said for most of these obscure loans. kwami (talk) 00:58, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
Ah, I see that the OED agrees with me. It marks thlipsis with the symbol "||", which stands for "not naturalized, alien". I think we definitely need to distinguish normal English phonotactics, meaning what people actually use when they speak, from Scrabble hunts for odd sequences that most of us have never heard spoken in our lives. kwami (talk) 01:01, 10 September 2009 (UTC)
There is some degree of arbitrariness to this, tho. If /pr/, /kr/, /pl/, /kl/, /spr/, /skr/, /spl/ are valid, shouldn't that mean that (s)(p/k)(r/l) is valid, and that /skl/, while only occurring in the loanword scleroris, should still be consider'd a part of "normal English phonotactics"? FWIW, Urban Dictionary has a few dozen entries under scl- and skl-, but very few under eg. sth- and many of them acronyms. (Also, tons of onomatopoeia under bw-.)--Trɔpʏliʊmblah 11:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) Now that the topic is up, let's also mention that I've seen many sources tangent on an analysis of /ju/ being a difthong rather than constituting onset clusters involving /j/. (Eg. [2] mentioning "Davis & Hammond '95" but without further details). --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 11:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't think we should present a theoretical abstraction as reality. Otherwise what's to stop s.o. from giving (s)(p/t/k)(r/l), and claiming that *stleet as a parallel to street is just an accidental gap? (After all, in quick enunciation delete may become [dli:t].)
Onomatopoeia has its own phonotactics in many languages. If we're going there, we'd have to say English is a click language, and that we have syllable obstruents like /S/ and /z/.
You have a good point with /ju:/. Historically that's a diphthong, though it's arguable today. I suggest we separate out those onsets and note that they depend on one's interpretation of /ju:/. kwami (talk) 20:27, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

I find /skl/ (but not /stl/) persuasive, not just bcz of sclerosis but bcz a presumably linguistics-naive author (or perhaps an actual child whose usage suggested her fictional child's usage) created a little girl fond of the neologisms "to sklathe" and "sklathing". (Am i foolish in believing the final phoneme is clearly voiced, or is that implicit in spelling it so, rather than "sklaith"?)
--Jerzyt 18:38, 10 November 2015 (UTC)


The list of phonemes doesn't seem to cover words such as flour and wire. It seems that in both RP and GenAm they must be analysed as separate triphthong phonemes /flaʊə(r)/, /waɪə(r)/. Minimal pairs such as high ring vs. hiring and cow ring vs. cowering show that they cannot be analysed as /aʊ/ + /r/. The case for such phonemes seems at least as compelling as it is for the diphthongs given in leer, lair and lure. Grover cleveland (talk) 01:48, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

In General American, at least, some people definitely pronounce flour and wire as /flaʊɹ/ and /waɪɹ/. For those who pronounce them /flaʊəɹ/ and /waɪəɹ/ (I'm guessing most people), the words are disyllabic. I pronounce cow ring as /ˈkaʊːɹɪŋ/ and cowering as /ˈkaʊɹɪŋ/. Examples of triphthongal English words include meow /mjaʊ/, quote /kwoʊt/, quoit /kwɔɪt/, and in some dialects fjord /fjoʊɹd/. — The Man in Question (gesprec) · (forðung) 03:18, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Oops. I meant /ˈkaːʊɹɪŋ/. — The Man in Question (gesprec) · (forðung) 05:58, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
So it seems that, for your speech, some separate phoneme (whether or not it's a triphthong) is required to explain cow ring vs. cowering. Grover cleveland (talk) 04:36, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
For me, cow ring is /kaʊ.riŋ/ cowering is /kaʊ.r.iŋ/ and cower ring is /kaʊ.r.riŋ/. Our article on Received Pronunciation talks a little about triphthongs. The whole deal may depend on analysis. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 06:31, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
cow ring vs. cowering only shows that syllabification is significant in English, but we already know that. Or do you really mean that grey tape vs. great ape shows that /t ~ ɾ ~ ʔ/ and /tʰ/ are distinct phonemes? A similar example would be yaw rise vs. your eyes. (A better question would be whether in your accent power rhymes neither with plougher nor with par, and whether tire differs from both tier and tar.) --___A. di M. 16:10, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
Like I said, it may depend on analysis. If I'd instead transcribed one as /kaʊr.iŋ/ so that there was a /kaʊ.riŋ/-/kaʊr.iŋ/ distinction, then the next question would be whether the /r/ of the latter was in the coda or was part of the syllable nucleus.
I speak California English, so you can't make too much of my pronunciation anyway, though I seem to make a tier /tiːr/ teer (as in one who tees) /ˈtiː.r/ contrast. But I may be saying the words to myself too much. I'll try to use these words in a sentence around my friends. Hopefully they won't laugh at me for talking about a teer tier or a pier pee-er. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:36, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

ʊ in final position[edit]

Does the sound /ʊ/ ever appear in final position of English words, other than in certain weak forms such as those for "you" /jʊ/ or "to" /tʊ/? Of course words like "cow" and "no" are excluded, because there, /ʊ/ is part of the diphthongs /aʊ/ and /əʊ/-/oʊ/, which are different phonemes. Thank you. --Eduarodi (talk) 05:18, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

No. kwami (talk) 06:14, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. --Eduarodi (talk) 01:12, 3 November 2009 (UTC)


In what accents does that make sense? (In Scotland it does, but then it isn't realized as [ˈfɪəɹɪŋ] there.) AFAICT, in England it doesn't make sense because pairs such as piece~pierce show that NEAR is a different phoneme from FLEECE (so it's /ˈfɪər.ɪŋ/), and in America it doesn't make sense because the homophony of serious and Sirius (rhyme between mirror and nearer, etc.) show that it is the same phoneme as KIT (so it's /ˈfɪr.ɪŋ/). Am I missing something? --___A. di M. 15:58, 7 December 2009 (UTC)

Well, this American speaker, if speaking only of his own dialect and unconcerned with British English, would write /ˈfi(ː)r.ɪŋ/ for fearing. The FLEECE vowel is just closer than is the KIT one, realisation-wise. Anyway, are there no instances in BrE of syllable-final FLEECE vowel before onset /r/ to compare? 4pq1injbok (talk) 08:20, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Keyring. ― A. di M. — 2nd Great Wikipedia Dramaout 11:19, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

/sf/ onsets[edit]

I've moved the onset /sf/ from the main table to the list of note 4. After all, it shares the property of only occurring in Greek borrowings. Perhaps one might argue for putting in the main table saying that sphere is somehow an everyday integrated word whereas sclerosis and the others are not, but I don't especially buy that (multiple sclerosis is just the ordinary name of that disease to me; and there's 12.1M Google hits for sclerosis, only a factor of 4.5 less than sphere). Anyway that doesn't seem to be the criterion being used elsewhere (schlep, schmuck, etc. strike me as fairly integrated as well). 4pq1injbok (talk) 08:05, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

"Sclerosis" was borrowed directly from Greek. "Sphere" comes from Middle English, from Old French, from Latin (then from Greek), as do half of all common English words—ergo, a native word. — The Man in Question (in question) 09:59, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. If there were something in English phonotactics forbidding /sf/ onsets, the pronunciation of such an old borrowing would have been simplified some way or another long ago. It took much shorter for "tsunami" to lose its initial /t/. ― A. di M. — 2nd Great Wikipedia Dramaout 11:21, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Hm. Checking etymonline, you're right about the path of borrowing of "sphere". But take a look at the forms:
1530s, restored spelling of M.E. spere (c.1300) "space, conceived as a hollow globe about the world," from O.Fr. espere (13c.), from L. sphæra "globe, ball, celestial sphere," from Gk. sphaira "globe, ball," of unknown origin.
Note the "restored spelling". That the older English and old French forms are spelled <sp> speaks strongly to /sp/ being the pronunciation there, with the <h> later introduced among the Classicising changes of the Renaissance, and then spelling pronunciation taking over, sometime within the last five centuries. (Compare for instance Eng. author, which has /θ/ by exactly this process -- older form autor with /t/ through OF from Lat auctorem, the <h> a later introduction and at first just some etymologising spelling.) So I don't think this is evidence for /sf/ being any older than /skl/. 4pq1injbok (talk) 20:23, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
OTOH, if this pronunciation originated in English, we can't say that sphere can have /sf/ because it's a loanword, either. (BTW, I don't consider English phonotactics as forbidding /skl/, either — /pr/, /pl/, /kr/, /kl/, /spr/, /spl/, and /skr/ are all allowed; I think that if no word starting with /skl/ originates from Old English, that's just a lexical fact (i.e. such words just don't happen to exist) rather than a phonotactical one. After all, words such as "psalm", "pneumonia", "mnemonic" and the like all lost an initial consonant due to English phonotactics, which didn't happen to "sclerosis".) ― A. di M. — 2nd Great Wikipedia Dramaout 22:00, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough, although no Germanic-origin word can have it, excepting later false etymology. Still I don't think it's justifiable to draw a bright phonological line falling between /sf/ and /sfr sθ/ -- it's the same ruleset for (re)adapting Greek borrowings that brought all of these about, and from the point of view of the process it's of not much consequence that an earlier borrowing of sphere was already in Middle English and sthenic was not. Should they all go in the table? (Oh, and I'm with you on /skl/.) 4pq1injbok (talk) 22:16, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Sphere was essentially re-borrowed from Latin directly into (Early?) Modern English, where spere was already present as a loanword from Old French into Middle English – and then died out (perhaps it survived in some dialects or as a sub-standard pronunciation for some time?). By the way, I'm pretty sure that no word with /skr/ is of Old English origin, either (since old */skr/ had become /ʃr/), and that the onset was only re-introduced through Scandinavian loans. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:32, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

Glottal Stop[edit]

Missing the glottal stop in American English (Not all dialects) (England too, I think). As in Brittan [brIʔən]. (talk) 04:34, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

I'd be astonished if uh-oh didn't have the glottal stop in all dialects of AmEng. (Sits back, prepared to be astonished if warranted.) GeorgeTSLC (talk) 03:50, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Vowel Length[edit]

Hi! How about a section on vowel length? Of course, in most or all rhotic dialects there is no phonemic distinction in vowel length. However, you see my last sentence had so many caveats that I just can't drop by the article and make this kind of statement with no citation. I'd urge you and say this is vital because as an English teacher for the Japanese, I run into problems as /u/ and /ʊ/ becoming /ɯː/ and /ɯ/ respectively. Don't take that one example lightly: every other vowel in English presents the same problem, and it's a profound obstacle to knowing what they say. Doesn't that make it seem pretty fundamental, and even more so because some dialects of English actually do have a vowel length distinction? (Ejoty (talk) 15:52, 27 May 2010 (UTC))

/tr/ and /dr/[edit]

I am astonished at the fact that the pronunciation of /tr/ and /dr/ is not addressed in any article I have found on English phonology. In my own dialect (suburbs of Boston is the best way I can describe it), these combinations are pronounced something like [ʈʂɻ] and [ɖʐɻ], respectively. My impression is that this is also the case in both GA and RP. It seems to me that if this phenomenon is not mentioned in any articles I have found then there must be a reason for it. So my question is, am I wrong and if not then why is this not mentioned? --- Wikitiki89 (talk) - 01:25, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

It is mention'd, note #1 in the section on onset clusters. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 13:58, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, I didn't see that. But in my opinion, this is mentioned too briefly. It also says that this occurs in some varieties of American English while the source that is cites states that this occurs in most varieties of English. --- Wikitiki89 (talk) - 15:39, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
There's a lot about English phonology that we could expand on. AFAIK, it's mostly a lack of attention by other editors. My understanding of the phenomenon is that the actual phonetic nature of it depends on speaker and that it's largely idiolectal rather than dialectal (it's hardly even marked). — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 20:12, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Dark L environment[edit]

The environment under which L is darkened (outside of dialects in which they are always or never darkened) is not documented. This should be remedied. ᛭ LokiClock (talk) 11:57, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Totally. Do it! — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 00:24, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Exceptions to syllable-level rules and word-level rules?[edit]

The section on syllable-level rules says "Long vowels and diphthongs are not found before /ŋ/ except for the mimetic word boing!" I would add "oink" and "boink".

Also, the section on word-level rules says "/ʒ/ does not occur in word-initial position in native English words although it can occur syllable-initial, e.g., luxurious /lʌɡˈʒʊəriəs/." How about "genre", "gendarme", and "gigue"? Did they enter from French too recently to be called native English words? (talk) 15:45, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

That's the problem with a page that covers a wide range of varieties. Some speakers pronounce those words with an affricate. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 19:42, 15 July 2010 (UTC)

alveolar trill /r/[edit]

What about the the rolling /r/? As far as I know it is used in Scottish English, isn't it? So shouldn't it be mentioned here? Buachamer (talk) 12:10, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Could somebody translate this article into English, please?[edit]

I regret to say that most of this article (as with many of the linguistic articles in Wikipedia) is virtually unitelligible to the vast majority English speakers. The problem is twofold. First, the article assumes knowledge of linguistics terms of art (rhotic? voiceless dental fricative?) that no one outside the field of linguistics understands. The second problem is the use of phonetic symbols that mean nothing to anyone besides professional linguists. I really don't think that I should be required to learn what amounts to a whole new alphabet to read an article that is ostensibly in English. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:06, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

I see the remedy to the first problem being wikilinks and to the latter being lexical sets. Of course, knowledge of the IPA and intrinsic understanding of terminology provides a potentially richer experience (or more sophisticated critique of low quality articles). We're always open to new ways of framing this kind of specialist knowledge, though I suspect that people unwilling to learn a phonetic alphabet also don't care enough about the topic to learn much about it, anyway. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 21:40, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Your attitude shows that you clearly have no respect for linguistics as an academic discipline. Would you make the same complaints about physics or mathematics articles? They too are chock-full of terminology on the subject that would prove too dense for the average reader, yet I for one wouldn't complain: it's an article about the subject, you should have some prior knowledge. Anyway, if you don't understand a term, it's probably hyperlinked to the article explaining it. As for not using IPA to describe the sounds, how else would you do it? You can hardly use the English spelling system as a phonetic guide (if you HAD understood the article you'd realize how varied pronunciation is, so the 'phonetic' spelling of words would be pronounced differently by different people, thus rendering it useless). If you are not interested in learning more about phonology in general, then what kind of explanation of English phonology were you looking for? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

I like the comparisons to physics and mathematics. We might also compare linguistics articles to those on music; if you don't have the vocabulary, they aren't "in English" either. GeorgeTSLC (talk) 03:55, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I really like your comparison; it may be even better. After all, music theory is every bit as arcane and complex (and confusing to the lay reader!) as linguistics, although everybody (except for the profoundly deaf or isolated) listens to music (voluntarily or not) and almost everybody likes (some) music, music being just as common (and commonly discussed) in everyday life as language, but to millions of music lovers and amateur musicians, who can barely read notes, music theory (especially advanced music theory) is utterly alien and comes across a lot like advanced mathematics.
Moreover, the analysis of music, especially familiar music, tends to baffle and even antagonise people – why can't those weirdo academics simply shut up and listen to the beautiful sounds? Why do they need to cut it up into little parts and process it with abandon? Can't they appreciate music on its own, as it is? Aren't they destroying the magic of music with all this prattle?
Music is all around us, as a cultural phenomenon, and we are well aware of its existence (unlike, for example, bacteria), though not its details (seeing as we usually perceive it in a holistic fashion), it has a complex structure, like language, and we tend to have even stronger feelings about it than about language. This makes the place of music in our culture and daily lives quite comparable to that of language, especially a common language like English, and studying either as a (broadly speaking) scientific or academic subject seems stranger and "nerdier" to people than studying phenomena of lesser everyday relevance, as language and music are pretty unique in that everybody deems themselves a sort of expert in at least some forms of language and music, and has strong opinions and judgments about them. So the way specialised academics study language and music appears curious, especially given that schools do not give much insight into either field of study. People learn about the orthography and grammar of the dominant written language and perhaps one or a few others in a traditional way, and they learn a bit about the history of music and some other basics, and may learn to play an instrument and read notes, but neither has a lot to do with the way language and music are studied in academia.
This parallel was even more obvious prior to the decline of traditional and amateur music, especially acoustic home music, due to the rise of popular music and the entertainment industry thanks to the availability of recordings: most people could carry a tune, and many even play an instrument, which caused not only consuming, but also making music to be almost as natural as talking, and everybody could and can speak at least one language; at the same time, many or even most people were illiterate in musical notation, and many were even illiterate in reading and writing, let alone phonetic notations of the day.
Vocal pedagogues and many professional singers even use IPA! Actually, to learn IPA (especially more advanced IPA, where advanced phonetic knowledge becomes necessary) and musical notation (especially more advanced notation, where advanced theoretical knowledge becomes necessary) is pretty similar. If you cannot read notes at all, you would not expect to understand a treatise, or Wikipedia article, about a music-theoretical subject. Similarly, without a knowledge of IPA, you're lost in any article about a phonetical subject – even the phonetics of your own native language. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:57, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Why bother reading this article if you do not understand IPA? It makes no sense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:02, 8 October 2012 (UTC)

voiceless palatal fricative [ç] in English words[edit]

Whenever people on the net or wikipedia talk about this sound [ç] appearing in English, they only talk about words like e.g human, hue, huge, humid, humanity, humour etc.

What about words like: heat, heap, heed, heel, helium, haem etc. ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Farazcole (talkcontribs)

There's usually very little if any palatal friction in them; consider also that for many (most?) speakers /iː/ is actually a diphthong [ɪi], so there's little reason to expect heat to have any more friction than hit. A. di M. (talk) 18:11, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
What about those who pronounce [i:] as a monophthong? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:19, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
Technically speaking the h in human isn't necessarily a palatal fricative; there is little acoustic distinction between a voiceless approximant and a voiceless fricative. On top of this, /h/ is often articulatorally placeless so that it adopts characteristics of neighboring vowels. In this sense, it's more palatal next to [i], more pharyngeal next to [ɑ], etc. In that sense it's more [ç]-like in words like heat than in words like heart but less like it than in words like huge. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 20:17, 26 November 2010 (UTC)
Oh yes. I know why only hue words are transcribed with a 'ç'. [h] must sound like the voiceless version of the vowel after it. In the word 'hue', the 'h' doesn't sound like the vowel (oo-sound) after it (unlike 'who'), and the [j]-sound that comes after it isn't a vowel, but a semivowel (and some people say hue is [çu:] and not [çju:] ). But in 'heat', the [h] sounds like the vowel after it, so it can be transcribed as [h].
In anology, in dialects that don't have the wine-whine merger, the 'wh' sound as in 'whine' is transcribed as [ʍ] because it doesn't sound like the vowel after it, but the 'wh' sound as in 'who' is transcribed as [h] because it DOES sound like the vowel after it. The whine-wine merger and the hue-you merger are similar to each other. Farazcole (talk) 18:26, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
I think you've got the gist of it. [h] is also described as being a voiceless version of neighboring sonorants so that both hue and whine can be described as having a cluster of /h/ and a sonorant. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 18:48, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
But do 'hue' and 'whine' have [j] and [w] sounds, respectively? Whine is transcribed as [ʍ], not [ʍw], and some people say that hue is [çu:] and not [çju:]. And is there any other allophone of [h], apart from its different sounds due to the sonorants next to it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:02, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It kind of depends on speaker. While some people pronounce hue like [çuː], others pronounce it more like [çjuː]. In our Wikipedia transcriptions of English, we do away with [ʍ] altogether, since it looks like m, and transcribe words like whine with /hw/.

A number of people pronounce words like ahead with [ɦ], but other than that I can't think of any other allophones of [h] (in English, anyway). — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 16:54, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
I think you only MUST transcribe hue with a "ç" if someone pronounces it without a [j], but if someone pronounces hue with a [j] then you can use [h] in IPA or if they say 'heat' then you can use [h] in IPA, because the h-sound sounds like the neighbouring sonorant in the last two cases, but not the first one.
So.... should hue be transcribed as [hju:], [çju:] or [çu:]? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Farazcole (talkcontribs) 19:49, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
Do you mean for English? There's too much variation to have one authoritative pronunciation. Otherwise it's kind of up to your personal style. Here are some other options:
Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 20:57, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
But WHY is it written on the page that [h] becomes [ç]-like before [j] if it's MEANT to do that??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:03, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't think we've established that [h] is universally, or even crosslinguistically, [ç]-like before [j]. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 15:47, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
By [ç]-like I meant sounding like the voiceless version of [j] or [i] [voiceless palatal approximant). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:21, 27 December 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure why. That's how literature explains it. If you want more explanation than that, I can only speculate. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 03:22, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── But on the page it says:

"Although regional variation is very great across English dialects, some generalizations can be made about pronunciation in all (or at least the vast majority) of English accents: The voiceless stops /p t k/ are aspirated at the beginnings of words (for example tomato) and at the beginnings of word-internal stressed syllables (for example potato). They are unaspirated after /s/ (stan, span, scan) and at the ends of syllables. For many people, /r/ is somewhat labialized in some environments, as in reed [ɹʷiːd] and tree [tɹʷiː]. In the latter case, the [t] may be slightly labialized as well.[1] /h/ becomes [ç] before [j], as in human [ˈçjuːmən] or [ˈçuːmən]."

The last bit isn't true because [h] becomes a voiceless palatal approximant, not fully a fricative. It should be :[ç˕].

It depends. And, like I said, there's really very little difference between a palatal fricative and a voiceless palatal approximant. You'll probably find variation within individual speakers on that count. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 16:24, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
Well someone deleted the phrase that [h] becomes [ç] before [j], because some dialects drop the [h]. Even those who don't, not everyone pronounces the h as in hue as a complete fricative. The distinction between voiceless approximants and voiceless fricatives is very difficult anyway. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:07, 28 December 2010 (UTC)
A recent edit has produced the following sentence in Consonants: "In some dialects, /ç/ is allophonic with /h/. Examples are words such as hue [ç(j)uː].". Given what is said in the note numbered 4 above this, this sentence is both redundant and meaningless. I propose it should be deleted. RoachPeter (talk) 20:19, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
I've taken it out. — Lfdder (talk) 20:38, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

This article is a mess[edit]

There is too much detail in a lot of sections with important overview information missing. Esp. the section on vowels. The chart on vowels shows RP and Australian English (?) but not GA, which should be there (in addition to or in place of Australian). There really really needs to be a chart showing how the vowels of RP, GA and Australian match up with each other.

Lots of stuff is questionable or wrong. Just a sampling:

  • Describing /ʃ/ as labialized and presenting it phonetically as [ʃʷ] is misleading at best. It's more like that /ʃ/ is slightly labialized but missing the off-glide normally present in phonemic labialization; hence a transcription like [ʃʷ] is far more wrong than right. If I transcribe a word like "shorts" with [ʃʷ], that suggests that it should be indistinguishable from "Schwartz", which is obviously false. /r/ seems to have more labialization but it's still missing the off-glide.
  • Words like "zblood" are totally archaic and the vast majority of speakers have never heard of them. Claiming that they are cases where onsets like /zbl/ occur in English is far more false than true.
  • Contrarily, words like "Schwartz" and "schwa" are hardly examples of partially assimilated loan-words. I'd say that these words are well-enough nativized that e.g. /ʃw/ is clearly a possible onset (cf. the slang "schwing", not a loan word).
  • There are certainly scholarly analyses claiming that e.g. /tʃ/ is a cluster, not a phoneme. They are minority viewpoints but should be mentioned.
  • The section on "Canadian raising" in the US needs updating. Quite a lot of American speakers (perhaps a majority) make a distinction between "writer" and "rider" that is arguably phonemic (if not phonemic, it requires a complicated, multi-stage theory of phonology that is far from universally accepted). For many people (e.g. me) the split between /ai/ and /ʌi/ is probably phonemic (e.g. in my speech, "rider" has /ai/ but "spider" has /ʌi/; "high school" has /ʌi/ as a single lexical item but /ai/ in its literal, compositional meaning).
  • The text claims that /ʌ/ is a back vowel in varieties other than RP, which I simply don't believe.

The section on historical phonology is a total mess. This section is in no way, shape or form a summary of historical developments, but just a random collection of tidbits. Why are there four subsections for four particular more-or-less random vowel developments, when all the other equally important (or more important) developments are omitted? Why are fundamental changes like /r/-dropping not mentioned at all?

Overall this article needs major reviewing and rewriting, and evaluation of many of the claims to see if they are actually valid. Benwing (talk) 06:07, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

It does need some work, but we should worry more about citation issues than having "too much detail." While this and related articles are titled "phonology" articles, they also may include detailed phonetics in their scope. I agree with most of what you said, though there are two areas I'd like to provide caveats with:
  • /ʃ/ of English (and French) is described in SOWL (p. 148) as having "lip rounding." That there isn't an offglide or onglide seems sort of inconsequential, though it might be important that you compare it to "phonemic" labialization when this is a phonetic feature. There is a real and measurable difference between [ʃʷ] and [ʃʷw] in English and speakers do not distinguish between shorts and schwartz based on the labialization of the first segment but on the presence of a [w] that differs from an extension of labialization in having a greater duration, as well as more velar and labial constriction.
  • A while back, there was discussion at Wikipedia talk:IPA for English about the phonemicity of the vowel differences in writer and rider. The editor arguing, as you do, that this lexicalized split (as opposed to absence of neutralization) is common across the United States, could only point to one source that even discussed the possibility of this happening and this source merely speculated about its commonness. Keep in mind also that the multistage phonological explanation for how speakers maintain a distinction between writer and rider without their vowels being different phonemes is not all that complicated as far as multistage rule ordering explanations go. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 14:05, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
"Too much detail" is really shorthand for "lots of random detail of questionable relevance while equally or more important detail and overview is missing, and the result is a big unstructured mess". Complaints of "can this article please be written in English?" (see above) are another way of saying the same thing.
As for your caveats, I partly agree with what you're saying. Yes, there is a certain amount of lip rounding on English /ʃ/, but I believe it's not nearly as much as for /r/ (look in the mirror, esp. if you're American; I can't vouch for RP /r/). The issue of the off-glide is important because simply writing [ʃʷ], you have no idea if someone means this as an extremely narrow description of partial lip rounding with no off-glide, or a slightly narrower version of /ʃʷ/, which is invariably going to be used to describe something that sounds identical to the beginning of "Schwartz" and is hence completely different acoustically. This is a major failing in IPA as most people use it, and it's not clear it's even remediable -- is there an "only somewhat rounded" or a "no offglide" diacritic? Given that even experts get confused over this, and this article is intended for non-experts, I'd wager that writing [ʃʷ] for a word like "shorts" is just going to be totally misleading and confusing. Much better in cases like this is just to describe what's actually going on, e.g. "has moderate lip rounding (but no off-glide)" and omit the misleading IPA entirely.
As for writer vs. rider, yes I don't have references referring to how common this distinction is. As for multistage rules, sure, you could do that, but isn't it a bit strange that documentary linguists when encountering unknown languages almost never propose multistage rules in cases like this, but simply assert that they are different phonemes? This is in fact a pretty textbook example of "secondary split" where an allophonic distinction arises and then becomes phonemicized when the conditioning environment is effaced. I'd wager that the only reason people insist on suggesting multistage rules is because (unlike for unknown languages) there is a prior consensus regarding which phonemes English does and doesn't have, and linguists are desperately trying to squeeze the data into this. Note also that even a multistage rule doesn't account for my speech distinctions of "spider" vs. "rider" or "highschool" (grade 9 to 12) vs. "high school" (higher-track school, school up on a hill, etc.). How common this is, I dunno, but I suspect more than is usually claimed.
BTW another factual error in this page is the claim that "shrew" and "woe" rhymed in Shakespeare's time, cited to Shakespeare himself (can we say WP:OR, boys?). The editor evidently didn't bother to check whether any of the other lines in the cited iambic pentameter rhymed. Benwing (talk) 23:23, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I haven't noticed that with documentary linguists. I can think of contradictory examples in either regard, such as the halve/have (or banner/banner) distinction in New York (see page 7 of this presentation by Daniel Silverman) and the fairly opaque phonological rules Rotuman. If what you say is true though, part of the distinction might be, as you say, biases in the researchers who may be stubbornly trying to fit related dialects into a single system (something covered a bit at our article on diaphoneme) but it may also be theoretical differences that make it a sort of apples-oranges issue.
Interestingly, the article cited in the previous discussion does account pretty well for your spider/rider issue, an explanation that isn't necessarily mutually exclusive to a multistage account. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 02:24, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

ŋ vs ŋg[edit]

Perhaps the article could point out that not everyone pronounces word final 'ng' as just ŋ, in my dialect and I think a lot of other northern english dialects it is still pronounced as ŋg, eg the ng in finger and the ng in running are pronounced identically. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:30, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Dark L[edit]

I don't see a source for the L's to always be dark in North American English. When I say Lol the first L for me isn't a dark L. Is there a credible source for this claim? --Bluesoju (talk) 05:59, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

That's clearly wrong. My idiolect is AFAIK fairly typical of GA in this regard, and I have two clear allophones.
BTW, if you listen to Bulbous Bouffant, you'll hear an interesting effect of the allophony: one speaker has a light el in bulbous, and consequently the vowel of gull, whereas the other has a dark el and (to my ears at least) the vowel of gold. — kwami (talk) 07:01, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

AuE monophthongisation[edit]

The English diphthongs chart is wrong for Australian English. All of the last three (leer, lair, lure) may or may not be monophthongised ([liː], [leː], [lɔː]), yet the chart picks one of the two realisations arbitrarily for each of the three cases (these being: diphthong, monophthong and diphthong again). The footnote is also incorrect - the notion of a split is a little baffling. In AuE, the 'lure' vowel acts exactly as the other two - the diphthong and the monophthong are in free variation. Cure and lure can indeed be released as [kʰjɔː] and [lɔː] (i.e. lure and law are homophones) for some speakers (myself included), and poor & sure can most definitely be pronounced with a diphthong, and often are. (talk) 08:20, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Redundant definitions[edit]

I'm of the opinion that these additions are unnecessary and redundant when we can simply use links to direct people who are confused about terminology. We don't do this sort of thing for other phonology articles. What's the justification? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 14:52, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

It's Wikipedia policy that articles should be addressed to both specialists and non-specialists. It's disruptive to a reader to constantly have to click elsewhere (especially when no wikilinks are given, but even when they are). What the non-specialist reader does in that situation is just give up trying to gain something from the article. A typical reaction from a reader would be to think to himself what an IP wrote here in September 2010:
Could somebody translate this article into English, please? I regret to say that most of this article (as with many of the linguistic articles in Wikipedia) is virtually unitelligible to the vast majority English speakers.
In short, putting in "plain English" explanations in a way that does not disrupt the flow (a) causes no harm to any reader, and (b) helps some readers understand the article rather than give up on it. Duoduoduo (talk) 15:05, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
But having full paragraphs just to give definitions of key concepts does disrupt the flow. It has the potential harm of cluttering up the article with needless prose. Most importantly, it's not actually rewriting the article to cater it to non-specialists. I suspect the anon IP would still consider the article just as dense as it was before; if those definitions were what actually stood in the way of clear non-specialist prose (which I doubt), providing relevant links (you added two, which would hardly count as "constant" clicking on links) would be enough.
Keep in mind, also, that this is a topic that requires a certain amount of speciality to it; take this comment from Talk:General American, where an anon IP thinks using the IPA is too technical; in the same way that we can't have an article about General relativity that eschews math, we can't have phonology article without IPA. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 21:57, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Actually my reference to constant clicking was not to the two links I added -- it was to any links, including those already there, that someone has to click in order to figure out what's going on.
You say that the IP would consider the article just as dense as before -- actually he'd consider it a little less dense. Any technical article could take potentially years of training to understand in its entirety. The goal is not to have the non-technically oriented reader understand the whole thing -- it's to let him understand part of it. E.g., if a reader doesn't previously know what an allophone is, and the allophone section doesn't tell him, he's not going to understand what the section is talking about. But with a simple intro paragraph, he'll have enough context to keep reading and to get whatever he can out of the section. So it's not clutter and it's not needless prose -- it serves a constructive purpose. And the short added parts don't disrupt the flow -- they create flow, rather than just diving in abruptly.
Moreover, it's not accurate to say that I added "full paragraphs just to give definitions of key concepts". I added these paragraphs:
[At the beginning of the section "Phonemes"]: A phoneme is a sound or a group of different sounds which is/are all perceived to have the same function by speakers of the language or dialect in question. For example, the word "sound" has four phonemes: the "s", the vowel diphthong "ou", the "n", and the "d". Note that a phoneme is a feature of pronunciation, not of spelling (which in English sometimes does not relate directly to the phonemes that are present: e.g., "cough" has three phonemes — the initial consonant sound, the monopthong vowel sound "aw", and the final consonant sound "f").
This provides relevant information about English phonemes not coinciding with English letters -- elementary stuff to you and me and others with a linguistics background, but not to many other readers.
[At the beginning of the section "Allophones"]: An allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds (or phones) used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, the phoneme /t/ is pronounced differently in "tonsils" than in "button", and still differently in "cat". All of these "t" sounds are allophones of the same phoneme, since no two words can be distinguished from each other solely on the basis of which of these pronunciations is used.
Again, only one sentence is devoted to the definition; the rest provides relevant information about phonemes in English. That /t/ is pronounced differently in different contexts is not news to someone with a linguistics background, but it is news to most people reading this article. Previously this section started out with
Although regional variation is very great across English dialects, some generalizations can be made about pronunciation in all (or at least the vast majority) of English accents
Someone who doesn't already know what an allophone is is not going to be helped by an allophone section that starts out like that.
[At the start of the "Reduced vowels" section]: Vowel reduction refers to the weakening of a vowel sound in certain situations. In English this typically involves decreasing its volume, decreasing its duration, and pronouncing it more like a schwa, as in the vowel sound in the second syllable of "typically".
Again, I've added simply one sentence -- not clutter -- defining the term, and then introductory information about English. Duoduoduo (talk) 15:38, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
You haven't swayed me, but I think we both have stated our cases about as fully we can. You don't think these sorts of things interrupt the flow and I do. Let's give other editors an opportunity to weigh in. There may even be a way to incorporate definitions like this in a more seamless way that neither of us are seeing right now. 16:57, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Final T Glottalized in General American?[edit]

In the allophones section of the article it says, "Finally, final /t/ as in cat is not released, and may be glottalized in British English." I noticed that /t/ is usually glottalized by people who I hear (as well as by me). I live in the US and people who i live near sound relatively close to General American, so i am wondering if this glottalization is common. If it is, this ought to be noted, but it might be just a dialectical variation. GreyAlien502 (talk) 22:21, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

It's my understanding that not glottalizing final /t/ is very rare amongst English dialects. I'm not sure why the article is so specific, unless "glottalized" means a complete replacement by a glottal stop, as opposed to glottal reinforcement. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 23:12, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Symbolization of /r/[edit]

In the early part of this article, the consonant normally symbolized as /r/ is given as /ɹ/ (upside-down r). While it is perfectly reasonable to use this symbol to represent an allophone of /r/, it is very unusual to use it as a phoneme symbol for English. In fact this symbol is not used throughout the article, and the section on phonotactics uses the /r/ symbol. The article on IPA for English uses /r/, not /ɹ/. If nobody objects, I will change the phoneme symbol to /r/. Peter Roach. RoachPeter (talk) 17:28, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

I think the section in question is making claims about the possible variation in transcription, but it seems based on WP:OR impressions rather than sources (since it's not cited). So do what you feel is right. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 01:44, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Allophones of /n/[edit]

The section on allophones of consonants explains how /n/ may be realized as [ŋ] in front of velars. The same process results in /n/ being realized as /m/ before bilabial consonants (as in 'sun-bed' /sʌmbed/). Should this be included in the same paragraph? Peter Roach RoachPeter (talk) 16:41, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

I don't see why not. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 17:57, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Reduced Vowels[edit]

Quite a lot of work needed on this section, keeping an eye on 'Vowel Reduction in English'.

"traditionally many English dictionaries have attempted to mark the distinction by transcribing unstressed full vowels as having "secondary" stress, though this was later abandoned by the OED". Without examples this doesn't seem to make sense - I don't know of any such policy in OED, nor in other dictionaries. Most are quite happy to treat some unstressed vowels as carrying stress and others not. "...over time, if the word is frequent enough, the vowel tends to reduce" - which vowel, and which word?

"Five reduced vowels". Citations needed here. I have heard the name "schwar" used as a kind of joke, but never seen it in print in anything that could be called academic text, while "schwi" is completely new to me. In this paragraph several symbols have been given umlauts - why? (see "schwi", "roses"). The vowel referred to here seems to be the very common /ɪ/. The rounded schwa is a possible candidate as a reduced English vowel, but where is the citation? Why is it "unstable", and what does that term mean? "High rounded schwa" is meaningless as a term. This paragraph seems to be unaware of the widespread use in British English phonetics of the reduced vowels /i/ (the "happY" vowel) and /u/ which represent neutralization of the /ɪ/ - /iː/ distinction in positions such as the end of the word 'happy', and neutralization of the /ʊ/ - /uː/ distinction in, e.g., 'to eat'. The stuff about a [w] in words like 'following' opens up a wholly different topic, and a controversial one. Some people claim that diphthongs ending in /ʊ/ acquire an epenthetic /w/ before another vowel, so that 'following' would be /fɒləʊwɪŋ/, while diphthongs ending in /ɪ/ acquire an epenthetic /j/, so that 'buying' is /baɪjɪŋ/. I refer to this as the "lesser of two weevils" position, and I disagree with it strongly. There is no phonetic evidence for it. It is also in the wrong place here - it is a liaison feature, not a case of vowel reduction. Peter Roach RoachPeter (talk) 15:24, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

The section used to be sourced, with minimal sets for at least [ə] [ɪ̈] [ö] (the "umlauts" have their normal IPA values). Yes, we ignore [i] and [u]. Those should be included.
The weevils are probably there because such effects are more apparent with vowel reduction. "cooporate" has a very clear [w] for many people, for example, or at least s.t. that is heard as a [w].
Don't know of a ref for the dictionary claim. But Merriam-Webster routinely uses secondary stress to mark unreduced vowels after the final stressed syllable. I have not seen that convention in the OED, though they may well be inconsistent about it. — kwami (talk) 05:28, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
I think I have overstated the position on the two weevils: there has been some recent controversy on a web discussion site for English pronunciation teachers on this topic, and I took/take the position that the epenthetic /w/ and /j/ don't occur in RP. But this is not to say that they don't occur in other accents of English. Certainly they are noticeable in many accents in the north of England, and no doubt elsewhere in the English-speaking world. I'll try to suggest a rephrasing that covers this. RoachPeter (talk) 19:27, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

"Schwi" and "Schwu"[edit]

Since I feel strongly that the terms "Schwi" and "Schwu" should not be used in Wikipedia articles on English reduced vowels, I recently deleted the word "Schwi" with the explanation that the term is nonexistent in the phonetic literature as far as I am aware. It was immediately reinstated by Kwamikagami on the following grounds: "John Wells uses it. It is common enough elsewhere as well". I contacted John Wells and he confirmed to me that he never uses the terms. I then searched the internet for evidence that the terms are commonly used elsewhere. I found four instances: (1) an unpublished dissertation by Piers Messum, who has made it clear in the Talk page for Reduced Vowels in English ("Schwu") that he made the terms up for his own use, (2) some websites which have simply copied the relevant bits of the Wikipedia articles verbatim, (3) some chatty web discussions about English pronunciation, some with smiley faces and exclamation marks, and (4) some readers' comments on articles in John Wells' blog (which are out of his control, of course). To me this means that no properly published work on the phonetics and phonology of English uses these unsuitable terms unless Kwamikagami can find some. RoachPeter (talk) 19:26, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

If we agree that the terms are too fringe for Wikipedia, we'll also want to eliminate them from articles that use them:
We'll also want to reconsider whether we should keep schwi and schwu as redirects. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 23:04, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
OK, I've had a go at replacing "schwi" with something more appropriate. Probably better to remove the redirects. Of course, if it turns out that there is published phonetic work unknown to me that does use "schwi" and "schwu" in a serious way, my objection to these terms appearing in Wikipedia articles falls down. RoachPeter (talk) 19:20, 15 May 2012 (UTC)
I guess my bad about Wells. Must've been in the comments.
I've seen this around. Can't find much online, though. There's Mazurkiewicz (1966) The initial teaching alphabet and the world of English (also several other books within the next couple years which look like they're repubs or quotations); Pitman & St. John (1969) Alphabets and reading; Institute of Linguists (Great Britain) (1971) The Incorporated linguist; Fabian & Hoover (1972) Patterns for reading. None of those are where I've seen it, though.
I've not seen "schwu", though, just "schwi". (And never "schwar", though "schwer" isn't uncommon.) — kwami (talk) 05:15, 14 May 2012 (UTC)
In fact, "schwar" is a term I have seen, though I haven't used it myself. If you use the search facility on John Wells' blogsite you will see that he has used it in the past - admittedly in an informal context. RoachPeter (talk) 19:20, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Syllable structure[edit]

Much of this section is based on the analysis of English syllable structure proposed by Wells. I propose changing "Wells notes" (which suggests a factual observation) to "Wells claims", because his analysis is far from being generally accepted, as others have noted in other Talk areas. RoachPeter (talk) 09:43, 30 May 2012 (UTC)

More complaints, I'm afraid. The preamble to this section (headed 'Phonotactics') presents a summary of English syllabification that only makes sense if you accept the analysis used by J.C. Wells - but as the last sentence makes clear, this is only one possible approach, and one that is not widely accepted (and it's not only "traditional" accounts that are at variance with this position). In the next para, I doubt if many readers will understand the formula (C)3V(C)5, and I propose to add an explanation of it. This is followed by stuff about coarticulation in consonant clusters, which is an interesting topic but essentially a phonetic one which is not relevant in an article on English Phonology. "Cross-articulation" is not a phonetic or phonological term that I have ever heard. There should not be a paragraph break before the next bit, which is just more on the same topic. I can supply full citations on electropalatography (having spent many years working with it), but it's not relevant here, and I propose deleting the two paras that deal with coarticulation. (BTW, there ought to be an article on electropalatography, and maybe I should write one, though there are others who know more about it than I do. And the topic of coarticulation seems very thinly covered, considering how much of phonetic research in the last 25 years has been devoted to it). From this point on, there is a more detailed exposition of syllabification. The explanation offered for the syllabification of 'holiday', 'admiration' and 'pekoe' is very strange - I have never heard the idea that the difference between diphthong and pure vowel might affect syllabification. What follows in this paragraph again only gives readers the Wells line and ignores other treatments. Many examples are quoted in the paragraphs that follow with no supporting citation or empirical evidence. RoachPeter (talk) 09:47, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
Feel free to rewrite the section to address these your concerns. I thought the co-articulation stuff was relevant to phonology because it describes allophones, so maybe that just needs to be contextualized/clarified. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 12:27, 31 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree with the points you make. If you could improve this section along those lines, that would be excellent. Victor Yus (talk) 14:05, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

Unstressed syllables[edit]

The link to 'stress' on the first line of this section doesn't seem to work. Can anyone fix it? RoachPeter (talk) 10:29, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Good point; the section titles have been changed. Replaced it with two links that work. Victor Yus (talk) 11:27, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Final syllable y[edit]

I'm not a native speaker, so I hope you understand my question. When I look up words ending on "y" - like fancy - transcription of the last syllable specifies a short pronunciation. There seems to be no difference between fancies and fences (except for the first vowel). Listen here: /

Is this right? In my intuition the final vowel -y (or plural: -ies) can be longer, somewhat like [i:]. Can you confirm this? (talk) 22:07, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

There is a qualitative difference between the two, though it differs from dialect to dialect. The final vowel of fences might be [ɪ] or [ɨ] and the final vowel of fancies is usually [i] though it may be [ɪ]. I'm not familiar with any dialects that merge the two vowels in this position. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 23:18, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. I wonder why all dictionaries I know (which by the way don't use [ɨ]) make no difference. Even my good old Oxford Pronunciation Dictionary. Could it be Oxford dialect? And what about howjsay's sounding? Slightly unusual? (talk) 07:06, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
I believe in old-fashioned Received Pronunciation both vowels were considered to be [ɪ], and the same in some modern regional dialects. It's the same issue as with taxes and taxis that was brought up before. Like Aeusoes, I don't think I'm personally familiar with any variety that merges them (at least, not familiar enough to be able to say that it does merge them), but according to what I've read, it does happen. Victor Yus (talk) 07:35, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Thank you as well. Another question. What about this?
Tennessee [with stress on first syllable]
Can you merge the last vowel? (talk) 08:00, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
For me it's the same issue as with manatee and humanity, that's mentioned (I think) in this article and at Stress and vowel reduction in English. Some analyze it as a reduced and unreduced (but still unstressed) variant of the same phoneme (i.e. they explain the difference by stating that vowel reduction is phonemic in itself). Victor Yus (talk) 07:53, 23 August 2012 (UTC)
Thx again (talk) 08:01, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps minimal pairs would be more helpful. Too bad they're hard to find. Isn't there a difference between taxes and taxis regarding the s? (talk) 08:00, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

Sorry, didn't think of taxi, but greek taxis. (talk) 08:34, 23 August 2012 (UTC)

RP 'STRUT' vowel[edit]

In the table of symbols for RP vowels the ʌ (STRUT) vowel symbol has an asterisk by it. I can't see any reason for this, so propose deletion of the asterisk if nobody wants to argue for keeping it in. RoachPeter (talk) 13:55, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Notes on consonants[edit]

Some suggested improvements for the notes on consonant phonemes:

"# Some phonologists identify syllabic nasals and liquids in unstressed syllables, while others analyse these phonemically as C/."

ALL phonologists identify syllabic nasals and liquids, but only some would suggest analysing them as individual phonemes. I suggest changing to "Some phonologists analyse syllabic nasals and liquids in unstressed syllables as individual phonemes". However, I can't at the moment think of a single writer who seriously proposes this, so can think of nothing to cite.

"# Postalveolar consonants are usually labialized (e.g., [ʃʷ]), as is word-initial or pre-tonic /r/ (i.e., [ɹʷ]), though this is rarely transcribed."

Confusion between phonemic and phonetic here. Suggested rewrite: Postalveolar consonants are usually labialized (e.g., /ʃ/ is pronounced [ʃʷ], /ʒ/ is pronounced [ʒʷ] and /r/ is pronounced [ɹʷ]).

"# The voiceless velar fricative /x/ is dialectal, occurring largely in Scottish English. In other dialects, words with these sounds are pronounced with /k/. It may appear in recently-domiciled words such as chutzpah."

Incautious use of the word "dialectal" (suggesting that the other pronunciations given in this article are NOT dialectal). Suggested rewrite: The voiceless velar fricative /x/ is mainly restricted to Scottish English.

"# The sequence /hw/, a voiceless labiovelar approximant [hw̥], is sometimes considered an additional phoneme. For most speakers, words that historically used to have these sounds are now pronounced with /w/; the phoneme /hw/ is retained, for example, in much of the American South, Scotland, and Ireland."

The "voiceless w" is not a sequence. It is a voiceless labiovelar fricative (or approximant for those who prefer to use that term). For the phonological purpose of avoiding adding an extra consonant phoneme to the inventory it is usual to analyse this segment as being composed of /h/ plus /w/, just as, theoretically, we could symbolise [p] as /hb/. The transcription as [hw̥] above muddles up the two levels. Phonetically there is never a /h/ segment preceding the labiovelar segment, so its presence within square brackets is incorrect. I'll rewrite this note appropriately unless anyone objects. An additional note is needed for the palatal fricative (usually treated as /hj/) at the beginning of 'huge'. RoachPeter (talk) 15:13, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, most of that sounds fine, though I had always read the note regarding syllabic consonants as a dispute as to whether there was an underlying schwa or not. You could argue for a rule that syllabifies sonorants (including r). Is this something anyone's made a case for? — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 17:20, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Occurrence of /r/[edit]

Regarding this edit, in what way does /r/ "occur" without being pronounced? Victor Yus (talk) 11:43, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

You could make an argument that, for example, the most prestigious forms of RP actually have an underlying /r/ in words like cursor that is deleted. But in the paragraph in question, the statement is broad enough to include non-rhotic varieties that do not possess an underlying /r/ (or can't be shown as such). — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 13:16, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
I think I've adjusted the note to be less objectionable. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 16:16, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
The phone only occurs before vowels. The phoneme is debatable. It is a specific theoretical claim that /r/ only appears before vowels; we cannot say that as a general fact. Most treatments of conservative RP would have /r/ in other positions. For example, bar has an /r/, baa does not, at least in those treatments. — kwami (talk) 20:01, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
True. I was hoping to avoid using brackets, since a the phonetic brackets are used to parse different realizations of /r/ just a few bullet points up. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 20:51, 19 October 2012 (UTC)
As I best recollect, treatments of RP (conservative or otherwise) generally don't put an /r/ in <bar>. The only reason I can think of for doing so is to allow for those speakers who avoid the intrusive r; but even that wouldn't apply to words like <farm>. Victor Yus (talk) 13:04, 20 October 2012 (UTC)
Just for the record, the English Pronouncing Dictionary uses superscript ʳ in word-final position (RP) to indicate that prevocalic linking [r] is appropriate (e.g. 'car' is transcribed kɑːʳ), but obviously this convention would not work as a pan-dialectal transcription in cases such as 'farm', 'cart' as it stands. The convention is used without making any statement about phonemic status. RoachPeter (talk) 17:17, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Does it also put the superscript r on words like baa and spa? If not, are the authors trying to say that linking r is "appropriate" but intrusive r is not? Victor Yus (talk) 06:46, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

DRESS in RP[edit]

Can someone explain this change; why do we want to represent the DRESS vowel in RP by /e/ rather than /ɛ/ (and similarly for SQUARE)? Is this something to do with the actual realization, or is it just to reflect a more popular notational convention? Victor Yus (talk) 07:48, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

According to the vowel chart at Received Pronunciation#Vowels, it looks like it's a mid vowel, so the notation is somewhat arbitrary. Do you prefer ɛ?
I can explain the change. I made it, because the chart I altered cites my 2004 JIPA paper on RP as the relevant authority, and I use the e symbol in preference to ɛ. The e symbol is used for DRESS in all British writing on RP apart from the "maverick" transcription devised for some OUP reference works. If WP wants to go for ɛ that's fine, but I will have to ask for my work not to be cited in that case. RoachPeter (talk) 15:14, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't recommend deviating from using <e>; it's just about as imprecise as using <ʌ> for the STRUT vowel, which we're fine with. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 16:32, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
I'm not objecting, but I thought Wells and some others used ɛ and ɛə, though I may be misremembering. If we are to use e for RP and ɛ for GAm, though, we need a note as to whether the difference is real or notational. Victor Yus (talk) 16:41, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

CURE American transcription[edit]

A nameless person has changed the American transcription for CURE from ʊr to ɔr. I can't see any motivation for this change, and suggest it be reverted. RoachPeter (talk) 10:08, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

vowel charts[edit]

English vowel chart.png

The current vowel tables are too complicated and confusing for almost all users. We need a general English vowel chart showing place of articulation and also charts for at least UK and US English, e.g. the chart shown at the right and the ones here --Espoo (talk) 13:14, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

I know Received Pronunciation and Australian English phonology have formant charts, but I'm not sure where to get a GA one. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 14:22, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure what's being asked for here. The diagram shown is a Cardinal Vowel diagram with a few added symbols that are used in the description of English. It is not an English vowel chart. I agree that there are too many tables of vowels in this article with not enough guidance to the reader on how to interpret them. It's difficult to know what to base the vowel classification on: traditionally the vowel diagram represents tongue positions (and lip shape too), and could therefore be seen as primarily articulatory. However, phoneticians have for a long time been aware that the classification is in fact more dependent on auditory sensations than on articulatory positions, as has recently been pointed out by Geoff Lindsey (see ). What is much less used is an acoustically based classification with the vowels plotted on a chart of formant frequencies. This would be a theoretical possibility, and typical formant values for British, Australian and American speakers do exist (though most accounts tend to treat adult male voices as the norm and neglect to give values for female speakers), but an acoustic classification would require a great deal of explanation to the user. So some discussion is needed before changing the present exposition, I think. RoachPeter (talk) 10:08, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

Prosody: Intonation[edit]

I've been trying to make improvements to the treatment of English intonation in the Intonation article. Looking now at "Intonation" in English Phonology, I feel that it's really quite inadequate. It's extremely brief, and most of what it says is actually wrong. In addition, the treatment of stress is badly organised and confusing. Does anyone want to defend this material or can I have a go at improving it? RoachPeter (talk) 09:33, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

I've now rewritten the section on intonation. RoachPeter (talk) 09:54, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

Analysis of long vowels as schwa diphthongs[edit]

There appears to be a phonological analysis of the long vowels as diphthongs with schwa as the second element, such as /oə/ for /ɔː/. I remember seeing this notation in Thomason & Kaufman (1988) in particular, but it was not explained there thoroughly and must come from somewhere else. Does anyone happen to be familiar with this analysis and perhaps even know its source? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:23, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

Syllabic nasals[edit]

The subject of syllabic /n/ might well be described as a can of worms. Quite a lot has been said about how to deal with the phonemic status of syllabic /n/. You have to be able to deal with minimal pairs like Giegerich's example of "hidden aims" vs. "hid names" (both can be phonemically /hɪdneɪmz/). I'm not sure that a full discussion of this problem would fit well in the middle of this section - I would be happy to write something, though. BTW, I am not familiar with the word 'phonemization', being used to 'phonemicization', but I think the shorter word is preferable. RoachPeter (talk) 09:59, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

I would certainly like to see this matter addressed, if you're able to write something (perhaps in a separate section). Presumably similar principles would apply to other syllabic consonants as well, besides n. Victor Yus (talk) 10:17, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree, a focus on how different scholars treat the issue would be edutaining. Phonemization is a word but I personally prefer phonemicization. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 14:04, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I'll put below a bit that I wrote about this a while ago, though I would use other writers' material to quote rather than my own to go in a WP article:

Syllabic consonants

A final analysis problem that we will consider is that mentioned at the end of Chapter 8: how to deal with syllabic consonants. It has to be recognised that syllabic consonants are a problem: they are phonologically different from their non-syllabic counterparts. How do we account for the following minimal pairs, which were given in Chapter 9?

Syllabic 'coddling' /kɒdl̩ɪŋ/ 'Hungary' /hʌŋgr̩i/

Non-syllabic ‘codling’ /kɒdlɪŋ/ ‘hungry’ /hʌŋgri/

One possibility is to add new consonant phonemes to our list. We could invent the phonemes 1̩, r̩, n̩, etc. The distribution of these consonants would be rather limited, but the main problem would be fitting them into the pattern of syllable structure. For a word like 'button' /bʌtn̩/ or 'bottle' /bɒtl̩/, it would be necessary to add /n̩/ and /l̩/ to the first post-final set; the argument would be extended to include the /r̩/in 'Hungary'. But if these consonants now form part of a syllable-final consonant cluster, how do we account for the fact that English speakers hear the consonants as extra syllables? The question might be answered by saying that the new phonemes are to be classed as vowels. Another possibility is to set up a phoneme that we might name syllabicity, symbolised with the mark ̩. … This is superficially an attractive theory, but the proposed phoneme is nothing like the other phonemes we have identified up to this point - putting it simply, it doesn't have any sound.

Some phonologists maintain that a syllabic consonant is really a case of a vowel and a consonant that have become combined. Let us suppose that the vowel is /ə/. We could then say that, for example, 'Hungary' is phonemically /hʌŋgəri/ while 'hungry' is /hʌŋgri/; it would then be necessary to say that the vowel phoneme in the phonemic representation is not pronounced as a vowel, but instead causes the following consonant to become syllabic. This is an example of the abstract view of phonology where the way a word is represented phonologically may be significantly different from the actual sequence of sounds heard, so that the phonetic and the phonemic levels are quite widely separated. RoachPeter (talk) 15:23, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Note #4[edit]

There are no references to note #4 in the consonant table, but there is such a note. Where should there be a reference to #4?? Georgia guy (talk) 15:05, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Length in GA vowel table[edit]

I noticed that the General American vowel table under the "Vowels" section indicates phonemic length. This doesn't fit with any of the other Wikipedia articles on phonology (e.g., Vowel length, General American, etc.) that I've read, nor the lexical set table directly above it; moreover, the first note under the table reads "The absence of length marks in the General American table...". The table should be corrected. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sɑk pʰʌpəʔ (talkcontribs) 10:18, 17 August 2013 (UTC)


I have relatively little experience of editing WP material. Please could someone explain to me how it comes about that the topic of English Phonology is suddenly rated as "importance=low"? I am not denying that the topic needs improving - it certainly does - but I feel it is certainly very important that there should be a WP article on the subject. RoachPeter (talk) 10:37, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

As a rule, nobody pays attention to importance ratings. It doesn't make sense to rate articles for importance for a subject this broad -- is something that's important to phonology equally important to linguistics in general? I've removed importance ratings from WP:LANG, but I'd probably be faced with opposition if I tried to do the same to LING. — Lfdder (talk) 13:34, 14 September 2013 (UTC)


In my dialect, the diaphthongs are considerably different. /eɪ/ is [eː], /aɪ/ is [ai], /ɔɪ/ is [oi], /aʊ/ is [æu], /oʊ/ is [oː]. Also, the phonemes /ɒ/,/ɑː/,/ɔː/ merged into [a]Zombiedude347 (talk) 22:17, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

The Rhotic consonant in the phonemes section[edit]

Why is the sound transcribed as an alveolar trill, when only the Scots use this phone. If I'm not mistaking, the sound is (at least for General American) a retroflex approximant. There's not even a section in the chart for retroflex sounds, I know it's just one, but the author included a palatal column. Finally, what about using this symbol instead ɻ?≈ — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:28, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

The reason is that we use the symbol /r/ to represent the phoneme. The other symbols mentioned are phonetic symbols used to represent different allophones of the /r/ phoneme.
re deletion of comments on allophones of /r/, I'm afraid I don't think these changes will do.
    • alveolar approximant [ɹ], the most common. (no citation to back this up)
    • labiodental approximant [ʋ], some Southern English speakers (e.g. Johnathan Ross). (no citation for "some Southern English speakers" - what about other parts of the world?; wrong spelling for Jonathan)
    • alveolar flap [ɾ], parts of Ireland (no citation; why only mention parts of Ireland?)
    • alveolar trill [r], many ESL speakers. (this article is not about the pronunciation of learners of English) RoachPeter (talk) 19:48, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

Looking at the latest version, I feel it is awkward that some of the information about /r/ is presented as Note 5 under Consonants while some more comes up in three bullet points under Sonorants. Is there a reason for dividing up the information in this way, or would a reorganization be desirable? RoachPeter (talk) 08:31, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

I agree. The note about transcription is still something to keep as a note under the table, but everything else can be covered in the sonorants section (which we can link to in note 5). — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 17:01, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

Article Suggestions[edit]

The lead section makes a good use of links to other related topics and background information; however, I think it could be a bit longer, as it would be useful to present a fuller summary of all the great points discussed in the article. As well, the Phonotactics section could do with some more citations, specifically in the Other onsets, Nucleus, Coda, and Word-level rules sub-sections, in order to back up the given examples and statements with reliable sources. Citations would also be useful in the sub-sections of Dialect differences section. There are links to the other Wikipedia articles about the subjects listed, which is great, but it would be helpful to add the citations from these articles as well, so people don’t have to search through these other articles for the original information source. In the Child acquisition section it would be useful to be more specific. It refers to “children” in general, but are these English-speaking children or all children? Consider using the IPA symbol /ɹ/ for English “r” instead of the trill /r/ as well. Those are just some suggestions. Great work and great article! --ChristianEpp (talk) 18:55, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

Confusion over 'ʌ' in RP[edit]

This is my very first addition to a wiki 'talk' page, so forgive me if I've formatted it wrongly or was wrong to create a new section. Also forgive me if my question is just plain wrong: I'm not an expert in linguistics; rather, I'm trying to teach myself.

In the section titled vowels there is a table entitled Received Pronunciation. I'm looking at the central, open, short vowel. It links to Open-mid_back_unrounded_vowel. How can a central vowel be a back vowel? Shouldn't it be Near-open_central_vowel?

My guess is that whoever wrote this got confused about the fact that when transcribing English this vowel, /ɐ/ is oftened written with /ʌ/. But since I'm not an expert I'm not editing it directly - I'd like confirmation that I haven't misunderstood this myself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kitjohnson9 (talkcontribs) 03:40, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. That vowel is often transcribed that way, mostly because it has been historically more back. When making phonemic transcriptions, there's a bit more leeway in which symbols to use. We tend to follow what scholars do so it's not a mistake. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 22:59, 13 October 2014 (UTC)
There's more to it: in the newest (8th edition) "Gimson's Pronunciation of English" its author, Alan Cruttenden, states that (I'm probably paraphrasing) "an advanced and lowered [ʌ] is used by some contemporary speakers." Peter238 (talk) 00:16, 14 October 2014 (UTC)
Further complication: Collins & Mees (2003:95) show that an advanced and lowered [ʌ] is used before dark /l/ by speakers with otherwise a near-open central STRUT. See Received Pronunciation, I've just added a vowel chart with allophones there. Peter238 (talk) 00:52, 15 October 2014 (UTC)
To answer the OP, I've just fixed the links. Peter238 (talk) 13:41, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

"Clear" and "dark" /l/ revisions[edit]

The account of "clear l" isn't improved by changing "before vowels" to "before or between". Being before a vowel is a sufficient condition for /l/ to be realized as clear, so the "or between" is redundant. The only restrictions that might need adding are (1) that the /l/ is most likely to be clear if it precedes a vowel within the same syllable, and (2) that /l/ will be realized as a voiceless [l] if preceded in a syllable by /p/, /t/ or /k/. The "other positions" referred to in the previous version as environments where dark /l/ is found then refer just to cases where /l/ precedes a consonant or is in final position. Saying that dark /l/ occurs after vowels is probably true in many cases, but it is what follows that matters. the /l/ in 'feeling', for example, has /l/ following a vowel, but the /l/ is clear. RoachPeter (talk) 10:42, 4 January 2015 (UTC)


The recent change of the transcription of "synchronic" from [sɪŋˈkɹɒnɨk] to [sɪŋˈkʰɹɒnɨk] and from [sɪnˈkɹɒnɨk] to [sɪnˈkʰɹɒnɨk] is wrong. There would never be an aspirated release of /k/ in such a context: perceptually, it would probably result in an extra syllable. If someone wants to add allophonic detail where it isn't really relevant, the ɹ symbol should have a diacritic beneath it to indicate that that the /r/ is voiceless. RoachPeter (talk) 11:01, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

There's a brief period of undisturbed airflow while my tongue moves from [k] to [r]. I don't think it'd be exactly wrong to transcribe [k] as aspirated. [But not in this article, obviously.] Alakzi (talk) 01:36, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Child acquisition[edit]

The more I look at the section on Child Acquisition, the more I feel it doesn't belong in this article. While the phonology of children's English speech is clearly a topic of interest, this section is concerned with things like physiological explanations for differences from adult speech, types of intervention and various purely phonetic matters such as formant frequencies. There is very little in it that I would consider to belong to the topic of phonology. I would like to suggest moving this section out. There is a very good article on Language Acquisition, but surprisingly there is very little in it about phonology, so maybe that could provide a new home. RoachPeter (talk) 18:02, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Looks as if nobody disagrees with me about this section, so I propose to remove it. RoachPeter (talk) 09:35, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
That makes sense. Is there a better place for it? — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 18:54, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
I was thinking that it might go into Language Acquisition, but taking a big chunk out of one article and inserting it into a different one is rather above my pay-grade, I think! As I have noted at [[3]] there is a real need for a phonology section in Language Acquisition, but there is already a rough draft of such a section sitting doing nothing in Talk:Language Acquisition. I don't think the Acquisition material in English Phonology on its own gives an adequate coverage. It's all a bit of a mess, and I'm not sure where to go from here. I suppose one solution would be for me to take Child Acquisition out of English Phonology and attempt to write some sort of synthesis of that and the draft in Talk:Child Acquisition, adding in my own limited knowledge of the subject where necessary, and putting that into Language Acquisition - but that would entail quite a lot of work. RoachPeter (talk) 10:20, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
I have now removed the Child acquisition material, and added a link to Phonological development, which is where such matters are properly covered. RoachPeter (talk) 12:37, 16 January 2015 (UTC)


The analysis of [ʍ] as underlying /hw/ is also supported by the realisation of Spanish ju (before vowels), i. e., [xw], in Caribbean and some Mexican accents typically [hw], as in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, as [w] in American English pronunciation, which is otherwise rather odd; at least I found it puzzling until I realised the connection with [ʍ] (this pronunciation, after all, still being retained by some American speakers, especially in the South). --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:24, 1 February 2015 (UTC)


Tmesis is listed under the "onset" heading as an example of an unusual consonant cluster onset where the first phoneme is dropped and /tm/ is not listed under possible onset clusters. However, all dictionaries I've checked prefer the t to be pronounced. Longman has ˈtmiːs əs ˈmiːs-, $-əs, tə ˈmiːs-  ; Oxford /t(ə)ˈmēsəs/ ; Collins (təˈmiːsɪs; ˈmiːsɪs) ; Merriam Webster \(tə-)ˈmē-səs\ ; our own wiktionary /t(ə)ˈmiːsɪs/, /ˈmiːsɪs/ Afasmit (talk) 04:00, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Affricate aspiration[edit]

As an Armenian speaker (Vahagn Petrosyan) told me, the English affricate /tʃ/ gets aspirated in the same way that stops /p t k/ do: that is, it's aspirated at the beginning of a syllable, and sometimes aspirated at the end: child [tʃʰaɪɫd], match [mætʃ] or [mætʃʰ]. I haven't seen any English phonetician note this, though. I can understand why, because a fricative release makes hearing aspiration difficult.

However, it's a big oversight phonologically, because affricates are similar to stops phonologically and can be expected to undergo similar phonetic changes under allophony. It's also a cross-linguistic faux-pas (so to speak), since Mandarin has an aspiration contrast in affricates, between /ts tɕ tʂ/ and /tsʰ tɕʰ tʂʰ/, and English clearly has an aspirated affricate initially, more similar to Mandarin /tɕʰ tʂʰ/ than /tɕ tʂ/ (excluding the place-of-articulation difference). Noting the phonetic similarity of these sounds is important, since there are many Mandarin speakers in the world, some of whom will no doubt be reading this article. Same with Armenian speakers, and speakers of other languages with aspirated affricates.

I could be wrong about English phoneticians not noting it, though. Peter238, do you know? — Eru·tuon 20:16, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

No source I'm aware of discusses this, including the latest Gimson's Pronunciation of English and Collins & Mees (2003), which both describe RP/GA consonants in great depth. The only thing they say is that /tʃ, dʒ/ have a mandatory fricative release, nothing about the aspiration.
Maybe one or more of these contains the information you're looking for:
- Roca & Johnson - A Course in Phonology
- Peter Roach - English Phonetics and Phonology
- John C. Wells - Accents of English volume 1
You'll probably have to go to the library though. If you want to save your time, check Roach's book first. I have limited access to the rest, and on pages I could access, there was nothing about the aspiration of /tʃ/. Peter238 (talk) 21:35, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
I looked briefly at Roach. (I know he's here on Wikipedia, and will probably read this.) Just like Collins and Mees, he doesn't mention aspiration of /tʃ/ in his section on fortis consonants, only of /p t k/. Both he and C&M mention glottalization of the affricate, but not aspiration. I'll see if I can get ahold of those other sources. I'd just write affricate aspiration into the article, but it would be OR, unless I see a source that mentions it. — Eru·tuon 01:14, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm away from my books at the moment, but as far as I remember it, the picture is that for syllable-initial /p t k/ the glottis is opened extremely wide (as wide as for a sharp intake of breath) during the closed phase of the stop. The voice onset time is then the time taken for the vocal folds to come together in the following vowel. In a voiceless affricate we do not get such a wide opening (I can't remember a ref. on this just now, but I have observed this in my own larynx seen through a laryngoscope), and consequently the glottis is not so wide open at the onset of the vowel. I would certainly not say that there could never be any aspiration in English /tʃ/, but I don't think it's as noticeable as that for /p t k/. In clusters like /sp st sk/ the maximum glottal opening occurs nearer to the beginning (i.e. during [s]), consequently shorter (or zero) VOT. In clusters like /tm tn/ it's unlikely there would be regular devoicing of the nasal. You might get a pronunciation of 'at night' with the /t/ apparently moved to the beginning of the second syllable, but the great majority of the speakers of the accents we are looking at would glottalize the /t/, thus reducing the possibility of a delay in voice onset. I think I could add a bit to Aspirated consonant when I get enough refs. RoachPeter (talk) 14:58, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, interesting. I have never observed aspiration from the articulatory perspective, only the acoustic one. So aspiration is articulatorily produced by glottal wideness at the end of the stop or affricate release, and English affricates have less wideness than stops, and therefore are less aspirated? That sounds reasonable, but still it's not the best comparison to make (apples to oranges). Better to compare initial affricates in English with those between vowels after a stressed syllable, or affricates in English with those in languages with an aspiration contrast, to see what the differences in glottal wideness are. Perhaps aspirated affricates have less glottal wideness after their release in Mandarin as well as English, but that there's still more glottal wideness than in tenuis affricates, so a clear distinction is made. Has this type of comparison been made? — Eru·tuon 20:57, 2 April 2015 (UTC)


I think we need a table of phones. I suggested this to Maunus on my talk page for the English language article, and he seems to be unconvinced, but it may be more appropriate here. The value of a phones table is to show all the possible sounds that actually occur in English. At the moment, the table only includes phonemes, and does not reflect the fact that most dialects of English have aspirated and preglottalized stops, a glottal stop, voiceless sonorants, that some dialects have an alveolar flap or trill, voiceless w, and so on. This is somewhat unhelpful to speakers of languages that have these sounds as separate phonemes, and recognize their occurrence in English.

Here's a phones table with notes. I'm not sure about the arrangement of the aspirated stops, and I didn't include preglottalized stops. Arrangement may need to be tweaked. Also, I'm not sure whether this table counts as OR, or is an appropriate synthesis of information provided by sources. — Eru·tuon 20:42, 1 April 2015 (UTC)


This table shows the consonant sounds in English. Phonemes are unmarked, but allophones are enclosed in parentheses, and dialectal phones are marked with asterisks.

Major consonant phones of English
Bilabial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Post-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal              m              n                ŋ
Stop     (p)   b t̪ʰ* ()*  ()*     (t)   d ʈ*   ɖ*     (k)   ɡ     ʔ
Affricate tʃʷʰ    (tʃʷ)   dʒʷ
Fricative f     v       θ    ð       s    z          ʃʷ     ʒʷ     x*     h
Flap              ɾ*
Trill              r*
Approximant               ɹ̠ʷ         ɻʷ (ç)    j        ʍ*   w
Lateral (ɫ)       l
  • Fortis stops and affricates /p t tʃ k/ are always voiceless. In most dialects, they are aspirated [pʰ tʰ tʃʰ kʰ] when they occur alone at the beginning of stressed syllables, as in pin [pʰɪn], but are unaspirated in other cases, as in spin [spɪn]. At the end of words, they are frequently preglottalized, as in nip [nɪˀp].
  • Lenis stops and affricates /b d dʒ ɡ/ are always unaspirated. In most dialects, they are partially voiced at the beginning and end of words, as in bin [b̥ɪn] and nib [nɪb̥], and fully voiced between vowels, as in about [əˈbaʊt].
  • The dental fricatives /θ, ð/ are lost in some dialects, and instead pronounced as labiodental fricatives [f, v], dental stops [t̪ d̪], or alveolar stops [t, d] (th-fronting or th-stopping). These pronunciations occur in Southern England, Ireland, and in African American Vernacular English.
  • The alveolar stops /t, d/ are often pronounced as retroflex [ʈ, ɖ] in Indian English. They are both pronounced as an alveolar flap [ɾ] between vowels in the United States, Canada, Australian, and New Zealand (intervocalic alveolar-flapping).
  • The alveolar stop /t/ is pronounced as a glottal stop [ʔ] before nasals in most dialects, as in button [ˈbʌʔ.n̩], and after vowels in Southern England, as in butter [ˈbʌʔə] and what [ˈwɒʔ]. The glottal stop also occurs in the interjections uh-oh and uh-uh.
  • The rhotic consonant /r/ is the approximant [ɹ] in most dialects, but sometimes a trill or flap [r ɾ] in Scottish, Irish, and Indian English.
  • Postalveolar and retroflex consonants /tʃ dʒ r/ are somewhat labialized (pronounced with rounded lips) in most dialects: [tʃʷʰ tʃʷ dʒʷ ʃʷ ʒʷ ɹ̠ʷ ɻʷ].
  • In RP, the lateral approximant /l/ is pronounced as clear or plain [l] before vowels, but dark or velarized [ɫ] after vowels at the end of syllables. In some dialects, dark l is pronounced as a labiovelar approximant [w], and in American and Scottish English most cases of /l/ are pronounced as dark [ɫ].
  • Conservative dialects like Scottish English contrast a voiceless [ʍ] in whine, typically analyzed as the sequence /hw/, with the voiced [w] in wine. The voiceless sound has merged with voiced [w] in most dialects.
  • [ç] is the pronunciation of the sequence /hj/ as in huge.
  • Sonorants /j, l, r, w/ become voiceless [ç, l̥, m̥, n̥, ɹ̥, ʍ] after voiceless obstruents (stops, affricates, fricatives): please [ˈpl̥iːz], Cockney [ˈkɒkn̥i].
  • The glottal fricative /h/ is lost in Cockney and Yorkshire English.

Since, in initial position, the English stop contrast is aspirate vs voiced, with tenuis being a conflation of the two, I would put [p t tS k] in parentheses and leave the aspirated stops unmarked.
There are many other phones in English. What are your criteria for what to include? — kwami (talk) 23:17, 1 April 2015 (UTC)
I guess I took [p t tʃ k] as the default forms, because they're used in phonemic representation, but I think your point regarding initial realization is a good reason to make the aspirated ones default.
No criteria; I included everything I can think of. It may as well be a complete list. I suppose some places of articulation for stops and nasals are missing. I'll modify the table accordingly. Let me know what's missing, and I'll add it. — Eru·tuon 01:09, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Now that I'm adding all the random places of articulation, perhaps they would best not mentioned when they're just the result of assimilation. Perhaps the criterion could be whether the phones are noticeable, either in dialects or as allophones. Still kind of vague, but whatever. So, the table below can have all the random allophones, whatever their importance, but the one above will attempt to follow notability. — Eru·tuon 01:45, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

[ç] is the pronunciation of the sequence /hj/ as in huge.

This is not general in NAmEng, and the only sources I've seen that note it are about BrEng pronunciations. Curly Turkey ¡gobble! 05:12, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Huh. I certainly say the word with [ç], or [çj], and Wiktionary agrees with me. What sound besides those would a NA speaker use? — Eru·tuon 06:28, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
I definitely don't pronounce it that way—and the difference when I hear a BrEng speaking say it is striking to me. The only sources for the Wiktionary entry are over a century old, so they obvious don't provide IPA. Curly Turkey ¡gobble! 06:39, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
How do you say it? Does the US pronunciation file (given on Wiktionary) sound odd to you as well? It seems to have [çj]: partially voiceless, partially voiced palatal continuant. — Eru·tuon 07:38, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
It doesn't sound strange, but (a) there's a distinct /j/ in there, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a NAmEng speaker who didn't clearly pronounce it in all circumstances: /hj/ definitely doesn't collapse into [ç]; and (b) it could as easily be recording noise as palatalization, at least to my ears. I definitely don't pronounce the /h/ in "huge" the way I would the /h/ in Japanese hito [çi̥to] (which also sounds clearly more palatalized to me than what you may hear in the audio file above). Curly Turkey ¡gobble! 08:10, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Okay. Well, phonetically speaking, there's no such thing as [h]: it's really just voicelessness of whatever sound precedes or follows. Hence, the /h/ in huge is realized as voicelessness of the sound that follows, /j/, which implies either [çj] or [ç]. If that's not the pronunciation, then there must be a pre-velar [x̟] or post-palatal fricative [ç₋] (a sound in-between velar and palatal) instead of [ç]: meaning, [x̟j] or [ç₋j]. There cannot actually be a glottal fricative, because that sound doesn't exist. Still, phoneticians might transcribe the pre-velar or post-palatal with the palatal symbol for simplicity, using the same symbol for a sound that's slightly different acoustically and articulatorily from the Japanese one. — Eru·tuon 19:31, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Minor allophones[edit]

The table below is an attempt to show the "upper limit" of phones in English, the full number of phones that could be listed (maybe an impossible task). It's probably not helpful to readers, so the table above is a paring-back of this table to a list of phones that might actually be notable enough to mention to readers. This is a somewhat arbitrary criterion, but maybe we can refine it. Please comment only on the "major phones" table, not on this one. — Eru·tuon 20:24, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Consonant phones of English
Bilabial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Post-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal              m              (ɱ)              ()                n                ŋ
Stop     (p)   b     () t̪ʰ*    ()*  ()*     (t)    d ʈ*   ɖ* ()  (c)  (ɟ)     (k)    ɡ     ʔ
Affricate (tsʰ)            tʃʷʰ    (tʃʷ)   dʒʷ
Fricative f     v θ    ð s    z          ʃʷ     ʒʷ     x*     h
Flap              ɾ*
Trill ()*    r*
Approximant        (ɹ̠̊)   ɹ̠ʷ        (ɻ̊)   ɻʷ      (ç)    j        ʍ*   w
Lateral (ɫ)  ()    l
Do you have a source for the voiceless nasals? AFAIK only /r, j, l, w/ can be devoiced and only in stressed syllables. Peter238 (talk) 02:03, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I was going to say the same thing. Also, if you don't have assimilation in the top table, you wouldn't include [ç, l̥, ɹ̥, ʍ] after voiceless obstruents anyway. And what's going on here is assimilation to the aspiration: skew, splay, spray, squiggle do not have [ç, l̥, ɹ̥, ʍ]. Also, the dental d should not be in parentheses, should it?
The trill is also dialectical. Within the minor forms, you might want to distinguish a retroflex rhotic. Also, would we include Indian English? There are lots of Englishes out there. Or do we restrict ourselves to Englishes that descend as a mother tongue directly from England? — kwami (talk) 02:09, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm not sure about the voiceless nasals; Maunus wrote them into the Phonology section of English language, with the example Cockney [kɒkn̥i]. I think you may be right, since sonorants are devoiced mainly by aspiration, and therefore voiceless sonorants occur only where aspiration does. Maunus's addition was probably mistaken, since we no longer have words like German Knie.
The confusing thing about dental [d̪] is that it's either from assimilation or dialectal (th-stopping). I suppose it would count as a dialectal phoneme or main allophone, but it's a minor allophone of alveolar d in most dialects in words like width, so that's why I used both brackets and an asterisk. Makes things confusing to include both minor allophones and dialectal phonemes.
Retroflex is technically included under postalveolar, but probably should add the retroflex approximant symbol and distinguish it from a retracted alveolar one. Yes, I think it would be best to include Indian and other Englishes significantly influenced by non-English phonologies. They are, after all, very important in number of speakers. I suppose that would require adding retroflex stops. Any other significant Englishes besides Indian? Nigerian, Singaporean? — Eru·tuon 04:50, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Brinton and Brinton 2010 include voiceless nasals in their account of allophones, they state that all approximants and nasals are devoiced following voiceless consonants. Their examples are snore and smart. It is by the way the only source I have been able to find that gives an easily digestible overview of phonological processes in English.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:17, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
  • BTW I don't think a table of phones is a good idea. Especially not if it is not based on a clear source that gives such a table. A table of allophones is meaningful only if it is in the format phoneme/environment, so that it shows which phonemes have which allophones in which environments. A table of phones in a given language is pretty much meaningless unless it has some very specific criteria for which phones to include and why - there are probably very few phones that don't appear in some variety of English one way or the other.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:33, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Not all existing phones occur in English, and not all are major allophones of phonemes, or occur in commonly spoken dialects, or are discussed by sources. As far as I know, some phones are rare or nonexistent: uvulars, pharyngeals, epiglottals, lateral fricatives, implosives. So, even when this table is complete, its inventory will be well short of the standard IPA consonant chart.
Certainly valid to question whether the table is WP:OR. I don't think it is, if all the phones shown are given by sources. Our lovely International Phonetic Alphabet chart for English dialects is cobbled together from many sources. I think sourcing can be handled by describing phones in the text below the table, and adding references there. — Eru·tuon 06:18, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
I don't actually think I have ever seen a list of phones given for any language. Allophones yes, but the problem with lists of allophones is that which ones seem "major" are just the ones that a given listener is likely to find particularly different from its prototypical pronunciation and that depends on one's own phonetical experience. Most English speakers would never hear the difference between a voiced and voiceless nasal, and the difference would seem minor, but for someone whose native language has that contrast it would seem like a major allophone. So my advice is, stick with conditioned allophones only, present them by conditioning environment, and stick to one accent and one source.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 15:11, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
@Maunus: Actually, voiceless sonorants are very rare cross-linguistically, and as far as I know, they don't occur in any of the top 10 languages by number of speakers. However, a tenuis–aspirated contrast in stops is pretty common, and occurs in four of the top ten languages, including Hindi and Mandarin, and a voiced-voiceless contrast occurs in at least three: Spanish, Hindi, and Portuguese. So only a handful of readers will have voiceless sonorants in their native phonemic inventories, while many will have a voiced–voiceless or tenuis–aspirated contrast. Hence, if we want to confuse the fewest readers, it's perfectly fine to omit voiceless sonorants from the allophone table, but very problematic to omit aspirated stops. — Eru·tuon 05:13, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
I’m afraid I have to agree with the reservations of Maunus above, in spite of all the work that has gone into this. It is likely to get very complicated, and the theoretical basis of what’s proposed seems rather unsure. What is proposed is not really a catalogue of phones (phones are independent of any phoneme), but a summary of the allophones of the phonemes of English. Such a summary is only useful if each allophone has an explanation of the context it occurs in (if it’s a context-dependent allophone) or the accent it occurs in (if it’s an allophone not found in the reference accent). I don’t think such explanation is possible in a compact table, and the result will be an ever-expanding list of not-very-readable footnotes. The best exposition of phonemes and allophones can be seen in the book that is the Bible for British phoneticians, Gimson’s Pronunciation of English, edited by Alan Cruttenden. The core of the book is a phoneme-by-phoneme description setting out all the allophonic variation found in British English, and this is a lot of material. It’s important to remember that the number of possible allophones (or phones) is infinite, so you need to have criteria for inclusion and exclusion. The heading “Minor Allophones” is confusing: what makes them minor? RoachPeter (talk) 10:05, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the "minor phones" table is problematic. "Minor allophones" means those arising from simple assimilatory processes: labiodental stops and nasals near labiodental fricatives, dental stops and nasal near dental fricatives, voiceless sonorants after aspirated stops (and voiceless fricatives?). These are all cases where a sound changes a few phonological features to match a neighboring sound, and many speakers would not notice it.
Maunus, there is actually a major phones table in Icelandic phonology § Major allophones. That's where I got the idea for making such a table for English. To you and RoachPeter, I'm not proposing we add the "minor phones" table to the article, but rather the "major phones" table. The "minor phones" table is just an attempt to show the "upper limit" of phones we could list. I'm not sure which of your comments and criticisms are aimed at which table, so please comment only on the major phones table, in the section directly above this one. — Eru·tuon 20:16, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
The Icelandic situation is very different because there are different analyses of the inventory, and there is a broad literature about the potential analyses of preaspirated/voiceless sonorants. Note that it says "potentially contrastive phones (important phonetic distinctions which minimally contrast in some positions with known phonemes" - this means that there is doubt about what is the exact phoneme inventory of icelandic and this is what motivates the presentation of a table of phones that are potentially phonemic depending on analysis.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 02:31, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
That's rather like spider vs spied her in US English. [p t k] and the US tap are arguably major phones due to being conflations of phonemes. Someone might make a claim of phonemicity for [ç]. The others are harder to justify. And I've seen it argued that [ŋ] is not phonemic.
BTW, while snore might have a voiceless /n/ (I'd have run it through Praat to convince myself), I seriously doubt Cockney does, at least in US English. Perhaps they meant following a voiceless obstruent in syllable onset? — kwami (talk) 02:54, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
The question is not if the argument could be made, but if anyone has made it. As for Cockney I think that probably they didnt mean the rule to apply across syllable boundaries, I just didnt think of that when I chose the example. I've changed the example of the allophonically devoiced nasal to "snow". ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 03:02, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

You can use this link if you want to have an additional citation for devoicing of nasals. It states that Australian English /m, n/ are partially devoiced by a preceding voiceless consonant. Peter238 (talk) 12:54, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Instead of having a table of allophones presented within the IPA consonant chart, could we have something like the table at Fortis and lenis? It would give the context, which is sadly missing from the above proposals. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 03:42, 4 April 2015 (UTC)
Whether we have the IPA-style chart or not, I definitely think we need something like the fortis–lenis table, since a graphical representation is more helpful than simply discussing allophones in bullet points. — Eru·tuon 04:55, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

Ordinary English pronunciation[edit]

Including only the linguistic version of pronunciation is the single worst feature of English Wikipedia. I'll wager that no more than 30,000 of the 300,000,000 native speakers of English understand this specialized notation. Despite this, Wikipedia does not furnish the reader an intelligible alternative way to pronounce words. For example: consider Wikipedia's pronunciation of the word "English: "/ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ/". This tells me nothing. However, Wiktionary adds an easily-understood alternative: "enPR: ĭngʹglĭsh". How could it harm anything to include a comprehensible pronunciation? For experts, inclusion of the more technical and precise pronunciation would still be included, just as it is in Wiktionary.

The two following easily-pronounced words are merely two out of millions of possible examples, rendered in symbols comprehensible only to specialists: --football: /ˈfʊtbɔ(ː)l/ --Jersey /ˈdʒɜrzi/

Football: IPA(key): /ˈfʊtbɔ(ː)l/ ing' -glish or, often,-lish

Jersey /ˈdʒɜrzi/

Barrister noir (talk) 16:15, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

You fail to appreciate the unique logic behind the system. We use the specialized (IPA) symbols rather than comprehensible (respelling) transcriptions so that our transcriptions are accessible to everyone, not just to English native speakers. However, when it's pointed out that we use the IPA symbols in a bizarre self-invented way that will mislead anyone who actually knows the standard system, we're told that it's only in fact English native speakers who matter, and they won't be misled because they don't know the system anyway. Mad I know, but don't bother trying to argue about it - I know, I've tried - the ruling clique of Wikipedia linguists has made up its collective mind about this. (Actually it is possible to add comprehensible respelling transcriptions if you want, although there is also a slightly bizarre self-invented system for those, just to prevent anyone from making things too easy.) W. P. Uzer (talk) 17:28, 21 August 2015 (UTC)
Barrister, I think the place you're looking for is Help talk:IPA for English. While W.P. is right that doing away with IPA would be met with much resistance, I should note that there is a respelling system similar to what you've proposed at WP:RESPELL that is used alongside IPA transcriptions. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 19:04, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

Word-level rules?[edit]

I think the following point is slightly vague verging on wrong: Sequences of /s/ + C1 + V̆ + C1, where C1 is a consonant other than /t/ and V̆ is a short vowel, are virtually nonexistent. Spit? Stop? Spot? Slim? Skip? Scum? Sludge? (talk) 18:42, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

In the examples you cite, your second and third consonants are not the same. The "rule" described says that we don't have words where they are. So we don't have words like spip, scack, or slull. But I squint my eyes at this as a "rule." Seems more like a distributional overlap. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 18:57, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

What English nouns begin with /ð/?[edit]

What English nouns begin with /ð/? It seems to occur in many basic function words (the, that, those, they, with) but I can't seem to think of a single noun where it occurs initially. Equinox (talk) 15:10, 3 December 2015 (UTC)

How about thank?
You can check out this category list at wiktionary and see if any other th nouns listed there start with eth. — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 15:40, 3 December 2015 (UTC)
All of them, but only if you speak with a thick West Country accent. I don't know any in standard English, and I'm sceptical about "thank" (unless it's a part of your regional accent). Peter238 (talk) 16:00, 3 December 2015 (UTC)
You might be right about that. I'm going to do a lot of nice things for people today and see how they say "thank you." — Ƶ§œš¹ [lɛts b̥iː pʰəˈlaɪˀt] 16:16, 3 December 2015 (UTC)

English phonology#Sonorants[edit]

As an Australian I disagree with the statement that in Australia /l/ is always dark. I say a word such as "lull" as [laɫ] where the final "l" sounds somewhat like a "w". In fact, deliberately mispronouncing it as [law] sounds almost exactly like "lull". While saying the first "l" the tip of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth but the final "l" has the tongue somewhat retracted. Can someone find some recent research to confirm this for Australian English? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Danielklein (talkcontribs) 13:22, 18 January 2016 (UTC)