Z. The end of the alphabet and the end of this ‘A–Z of pronunciation‘ blog. There’s a lot more to say, of course, and a lot that could be dealt with in greater depth, but the blog has handsomely fulfilled it’s initial purpose, which was to give my life some sort of structure and direction […]
Oh the power of this question in the mouths of young children as they flex their early language and logic muscles! ‘Why?’, they ask with apparent innocence, driving their exhausted parents deeper and deeper into their dwindling reserves of patience and logic. ‘Why?’, the child asks. Later we become adults and stop asking. Or ask […]
Back in July 2020, in the introduction to the post ‘M is halfway‘, I invited you to suggest possible topics for posts N–Z. Colleague Daniel Barber took me at my word and suggested that for ‘X’ I should write about xenophobia. Happy just to be getting feedback, I said that I would. In hindsight, that […]
W I made it! Finally got to ‘W’ and so can talk about something really important. Weak forms. A central feature of spoken English. Crucial to getting the rhythm right. Something we can all wax lyrical about! (If you’re sitting there panicking because you can’t quite remember what weak forms are, don’t worry. Memory is […]
Variation, the way that speakers of the same language use it in often quite different ways, is a wholly natural, entirely unavoidable phenomenon. In fact, without variation languages wouldn’t actually serve their speakers’ needs. Living here in Northern Spain, what I need from Spanish is not the same as the needs of speakers in the […]
No, sorry, not as in U2 and good music, but the second part to my blog on sounds and spelling as requested by the majority of you (= four, possibly five). And to get the ball rolling, a recommendation from colleague and pronunciation expert Donna Brinton, who kindly reminded me of Adam Brown’s Understanding and […]
When I got back from the UK at the end of 2020, I decided that the time had come to put some sort of order into my books, papers and paperwork, and to begin to throw out what I was never going to need again. In doing so I came across a stray copy of […]
I’ve just noted that my last A–Z of pronunciation post was back at the beginning of December 2020. Goodness, how time flies when you’re enjoying yourself. Sadly, I wasn’t rushing off to England in December to enjoy myself, but to say goodbye to someone very dear to everyone in my family. Not surprisingly, it’s taken […]
‘It’s not what you say. It’s the way that you say it’. How many times have you been chided or have you chided someone for using the wrong tone when speaking. And it’s so important to get the tone right. Or is it?
I used to do so much work on rhythm in my classes. I loved bringing songs into the classroom to that end. They’re fun to do. But are they helping? Is there any point in stress–timing your English? Are languages like English really stress timed?
Well, this is quite a mouthful of a name, so as this blog is always about pronunciation, let’s just refer to receptive competence, which is the listener’s ability to make sense of whatever it is that the other person is saying, or, to put it technically, to decode the incoming acoustic signal. Receptive competence, as […]
One of the key messages in my last post on priorities for English vowels, was that you don’t need the twelve pure vowels (monophthongs) of RP in order to be intelligible in English. Evidence for this assertion is pretty overwhelming, and in addition to common sense observation of English in daily use, this evidence lies […]
Sorry, I’m a late with this. I got distracted. They’re busy re–roofing the garage and I’ve been negotiating what I want them to do and for how much. “It’s a big job,’ the roofer said, ‘And I guess you want it done well, so it’s a question of both quantity and quality. That’s not going […]
I have a Word doc where I store ideas for future posts under the letters of the alphabet. Novel idea, eh! Not surprisingly, some letters look thinner than others (any ideas for Y other than yod?), and others could keep me going way past the end of even the worst pandemic. P, for example, could […]
When I started teaching English back in 1981, a friend put a book in my hand and told me to study the teacher’s notes before each lesson and to do exactly what they said. And don’t use Spanish, she insisted. Only English. Her advice kept me alive for the first few months, and since I […]