Receptive phonological competence

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 […]

Quality in vowels – consistent, intelligible, achievable

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 […]

Quality or quantity – priorities for English vowels

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 […]

The Nativeness Principle

Welcome back! I signed off in July saying I’d be back in September, and I swore to myself that I’d be back at the beginning of the month, but I didn’t make it! The other thing that I promised was to return to blogging with the letter ‘N’, and there I can manage to be […]

M is halfway

M is halfway through the alphabet so it’s a good time to take a break. End of term, let’s say, and time for the northern hemisphere’s summer recess. I’ll be back in September, however, with more mind-numbing reflections on pronunciation, beginning with N and the nativeness principle, and moving on to other irresistible delights such […]

Intelligibility

In concluding ‘A’ is for accent (2), my second post in this pronunciation blog, I argued that ‘[a]ccent has given way to intelligibility as the main focus of pronunciation teaching in the 21st century’. A couple of weeks later, I ended the post on comprehensibility by tying accent and comprehensibility to a third term, intelligibility, […]

Habit formation

H At the 2014 IATEFL International Conference in Harrogate, there was a veritable buzz of excitement among members of the Pronunciation Special Interest Group. Pronunciation was about to leap forward into the 21st century – ‘listen and repeat‘ was dead. In part, because it was boring (or so we were told), but dead principally because […]

Fricatives (and functional load)

In my posts for ‘B’ and ‘D’ I talked about bilabial and dental consonants. These terms are an indication of where the sounds in each category are made in the mouth. In other words, they are an indication of the place of articulation. In contrast, the term fricative is an indication of how a consonant sound is made. […]

Dental consonants

‘D’ could be for quite a lot of issues in pronunciation including dialect, diphthong or devoicing, but I thought I’d follow up from my post on bilabials with this one on dental consonants. There are two dental consonants in English, /θ/ and /ð/, as in thing and that, respectively. The two sounds are made in the same way, […]

Comprehensibility

The term ‘comprehensibility’ isn’t part of our everyday ELT vocabulary. We’re more used to talking about comprehension in terms of the questions accompanying a reading or listening text we are working on with our students. But ‘comprehensibility’ is a term used in pronunciation that is related to accent and also to intelligibility, and which, together […]

The bilabials /p/, /b/ and /m/

As anyone will know who has studied Latin or who speaks a Romance language, the term ‘bilabial’ comes from bi- (twice, double), and labialis (having to do with the lips). In the pronunciation of English, the three consonant sounds that are made by bringing our lips together are /p/, /b/ and /m/ as in pat, bat and mat, respectively. The action […]