Tag Archives: phonetics

Australian Broad-A

Speaking of Shane Jenek/Courtney Act (the Australian drag queen that served as the topic of my last post), I noticed that he uses a “short-a” in words like dance, France, and demand. That is, Jenek pronounces “dance” with the same vowel as … Continue reading

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Posted in Australian English | Tagged , | 16 Comments

“Courtney Act” and Non-Rhotic Puns

This season of RuPaul’s Drag Race featured Courtney Act (aka Shane Jenek), a renowned drag performer from Brisbane, Australia. In an early episode, Act/Jenek laments that Americans don’t get the pun in his stage name, which sounds similar to “caught in … Continue reading

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Posted in Australian English | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Reformed Views on Spelling Reform

Back in college, I obsessed over English spelling reform. Why deal with silent gh’s, I figured, when things can be so much cleaner? So I started inventing phonetically-precise alphabets, ending up with results like this: Tu bii or not tu … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 29 Comments

New Mexican Spanish

Wikipedia has many excellent entries on regional dialects. I’m wary of taking all its information at face value, but the site provides good links to relevant sociolinguistics texts that would be tricky for laypeople to track down otherwise. That being … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Henry Higgins, Language Snob

The classic musical My Fair Lady is on TV right now, and I am puzzling over Henry Higgins (I have shared my thoughts about the character before). If he obsesses over dialects so much, why does he hate non-standard English? Lerner and Loewe … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Sick Speech

I had tonsillitis last week. Throat maladies tend to endow one with a strange temporary “accent,” and this one was no different; the illness rendered my voice unusually nasal in this case. Such an affliction contrasts with typical head cold … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 3 Comments

More on Dictionary Pronunciations

As per my last post on “dictionary standards,” here’s an actual editor’s thoughts on dictionary pronunciation guidelines: Good dictionaries leave room for change. Take, for example, a word like “comfortable.” In a pronunciation guide from the early 1960s, the word is … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 21 Comments

Vowel Shifts in English and Dutch

As I recently discussed, English shares its penchant for r-variability with other languages. This got me thinking about another dialect marker common to English and other tongues, namely what might be called the “close diphthongs.” These are vowels typically found … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

It’s Not Just English with the “R” Thing

I talk about “r” a lot here*. Seriously, if you take a look at this site’s analytics, you’ll find that the Google query that brings the most traffic is simply “r.” The consonant is one of the most important ways … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged | 17 Comments

Anglicized Spanish (British vs. American)

While watching an old episode of Absolutely Fabulous last night, I was struck by the way a British character pronounced the Spanish wine rioja. In Spanish orthography, the j represents a velar fricative (the guttural consonant in Scottish ‘Loch‘). The character on … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects, Uncategorized | Tagged | 42 Comments