4

The "officially" voiceless alveolar-palatine affricate does not exist in English. But I can clearly hear it in the sentence "Ouch that hurt" (when the computer reads this sentence and often when actors say it in the movies). I am Polish and for me the English "ouch" sounds the same as the Polish "auć" (and means exactly the same). I am curious about your opinion on this.

3
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure that for me ouch has the normal postalveolar affricate [tʃ]. I believe Polish people usually hear as nearer [tʂ] than [tɕ]. It's possible that in this case, the existence of a near-homophonous Polish word, with the same sense was enough to push your recognition of the same [tʃ] sound (which is intermediate between Polish's <ć> and <č>) in the other direction
    – Tristan
    Oct 13, 2020 at 14:47
  • Somewhat NSFW, but I've been pondering on whether people can tell the difference between the pronunciation of Polish word być [bɨt͡ɕ] and bitch in English (/bɪtʃ/). Nov 30, 2021 at 8:00
  • FWIW, I think that the dipthong in my American "ouch" is lower and less rounded than in RP, and under the influence of the [ʊ̞] (?) my "ouch" is closer to [aʊ̞̯ʈʂ], with a retroflex t, while "itch" is probably [ɨtɕ] (with the [ɕ] closer to Japanese [sɯ̟ɕɨ] than American [suːʃi]). Dec 6, 2021 at 20:58

2 Answers 2

4

As a speaker of American English, I don't find any difference in the final consonant of ouch, pouch, slouch, poach, reach and so on. I might imagine someone pronouncing "ouch" abnormally for paralinguistic purposes. Using Esling's demonstration table, it doesn't strike me that the ɕ token is like English, whereas ʃ is. I'm not voting on Polish: however, the categorization of segments in the IPA is not based on Polish, or English, it's based on an independent standard. <siV> in Polish may well be closest to IPA ɕ, but it is not necessarily exactly the same. What you would really want is a panel of experts to classify various sounds, so that you can uncover the range of variation that is consistent with the letter ɕ (which English ʃ would not be).

It is possible that your perception is influenced by a contextual feature in the samplke phrase: /tʃ+ð/ is likely to modify /tʃ/ to make is less retracted, making it sound more like ɕ.

4

Interjections like "ouch" are often an exception to the phonological system of a language, the words tsk and tut-tut-tut even contain clicks otherwise absent from the English phonology.

Examples from German include pfui (expression of disgust, a dictionary gives me the English translations "fie!" and "faugh!") and hui (expression of admiration, like "wow" or "great") with an otherwise unused diphthong, or mh-mh "no" with a clear tone contour.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.