Z – the end of the road

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 […]

Weak forms

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

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 […]

Tonic stress

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 […]

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 […]