Questions tagged [phonetics]

The study of the production and perception of sounds or "phones".

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15 answers
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What's the difference between phonetics and phonology?

Having practiced armchair linguistics for some years I should be able to sum up the difference off the top of my head, yet often I don't know which term to use. And looking them up on Wikipedia doesn'...
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24 votes
23 answers
26k views

Is there a language whose writing is 100% phonemic?

Is there a language that has a complete one-to-one correspondence between the graphemes (letters) and the phonemes of the language? In other words, is there a language that is 100% ideally phonemic?
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69 votes
10 answers
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When should one use slashes or square brackets when transcribing in IPA?

When should one use /fubar/ and when [fubar] when transcribing in IPA? What are the differences?
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11 votes
9 answers
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Textbook suggestions for syntax, semantics/pragmatics and phonetics/phonology

I am coming to linguistics from a completely non-linguistic background; I was a mathematician. Next year I will start taking some serious (Master's level) linguistics courses and I would like to have ...
7 votes
2 answers
815 views

Understanding Voiced Consonants

I've been having some trouble understanding how is it that what differentiates, for example, /p/ from /b/, is the vibration of the vocal chords, present in /b/, but not in /p/. From what I have read ...
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9 votes
3 answers
9k views

How to determine which phoneme a group of allophones realizes?

This question is related to this other one, about the difference between Phonetics and Phonology. I can understand the difference between the two subfields as well as what it means to produce ...
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17 votes
4 answers
7k views

How do tones work in music sung in tonal languages, such as Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese?

I have not yet studied tonal languages, so it might be understandable, but when I listen to Chinese music, for example, I'm unable to perceive tones. This makes me think they are partially or ...
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9 votes
4 answers
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Does English language stand special in terms of phonology?

I am a native Russian speaker. When I am listening to songs and music in other languages, which I do not know, such as Italian, Romanian, Greek, Bulgarian, and even Japanese, Finnish, Kyrgyz and ...
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6 votes
2 answers
963 views

What is the phonetic and phonemic destinction between a semivowel and a vowel?

I have read several articles that claim that phonemically, /j/ and /i/ are the same and distinguished from each other by being syllabic or not. What confuses me is that I can hear the difference ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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How do sentence intonation and (syllable-based) tone interact in tone languages?

Tone languages use intonation to distinguish words. For example, in Mandarin Chinese mā with a mid tone means mom mǎ with a rising tone means horse Intonation languages do not make such distinctions....
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7 votes
3 answers
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Should I use square brackets or slashes when transcribing an oral text in IPA?

I am transcribing an oral text into IPA in order to compare it with the "correct" pronunciation of words (e.g. according to the dictionary). I am using slashes for both versions, but it feels ...
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2 votes
1 answer
639 views

What is the first formant (F1) dependent on in reference to the vocal tract?

From the resolved exercise below, it is mentioned F2 is related to the pharynx cavity and F3 is related to the front cavity. F1 is calculated taking into account the whole shape of the vocal tract. I ...
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2 votes
1 answer
381 views

Why is [f] ambiguous between [f] and [s] after saying the word <three>?

I used an automated customer service system that requires reading off one's case id. The case id I had included the sequence "3F." The speech recognition software was only tripped up by that "F,"...
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18 votes
4 answers
41k views

Automated French/Italian/German to IPA transcription

I'm looking for a website or software that will take text written in a source language and produce a transcription in IPA. The languages I am interested in are French, Italian and German, but if you ...
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17 votes
3 answers
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Why vowels sound different from each other

This might be a basic question but I am confused about how mouth shapes for vowels, at a deeper level, are producing different sounds. Wanted to see if one could demonstrate with another instrument ...
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16 votes
6 answers
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Alternatives to IPA?

Are there any other graphic systems that attempt to be as complete as the International Phonetic Alphabet?
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11 votes
3 answers
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Is a diphthong one phoneme or two, or does it depend?

In Mitch's answer to "What is the difference between a diphthong and a glide?" and its comments it seems more than one of us is at least a bit confused as to how many phonemes a single diphthong ...
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6 votes
5 answers
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Differences between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions

As far as I know, there are three main differences between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions: Phonetic transcriptions deal with phones or sounds, which can occur across different languages and ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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What's the evidence for and against isochrony?

The question What evidence is currently known that favors or disfavors the hypothesis that a regular beat of some kind—that is, an “isochrony”—plays some important role in languages? I've run across ...
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9 votes
2 answers
397 views

Simultaneity in natural languages?

Is there any known natural language in which it is possible to express grammatically—i.e., not through emotional tone or other secondary traits—multiple parallel channels of meaning? Parallel ...
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9 votes
4 answers
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Correct syllabification in (American) English

I need to figure out what the proper syllabification of words in American English is and why. PLEASE NOTE: I am interested in syllabification from a phonetic point of view, not in terms of hyphenation/...
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2 votes
3 answers
828 views

Identifying phonemic boundaries in Praat

I am trying to segment some connected speech in Praat, and want to get the boundaries between phonemes as accurate as possible. I am finding that in many cases, one sound blends into another and it's ...
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15 votes
3 answers
3k views

Whispered Voiced Consonants

Is there a difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants when whispering, which as I understand it, does not use the vocal cords? I know it sounds silly to ask because we can all understand ...
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13 votes
1 answer
395 views

Whispering in languages heavily dependent on pitch or phonation distinctions

When whispering in English all (segmental) phonological distinctions can – as far as I am aware – still be made, which may be due to redundancy (or simply because voicing is optional). I even ...
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9 votes
1 answer
931 views

How can I differentiate between syllable-initial [ɣ] and [ə] using Praat or other software?

I am currently studying Amdo Tibetan. In this language the voiced velar fricative [ɣ] is reported to occur as the first sound in some syllable-initial consonant clusters. More specifically, this sound ...
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5 votes
3 answers
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What is the phonetic reason for the occurence Sun and Moon letters in Arabic?

In Arabic, letters (or more accurately phonemes) are categroised into two categories: Sun letter and Moon letter in regard to what happen if we add Al (the) to them. Moon letters don't cause any ...
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9 votes
4 answers
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Why are only yes/no questions asked with a rising tone?

There is a rule used almost subconsciously by almost all English speakers (and I'm sure it applies to many other languages too) which is that yes/no questions are asked ending with a rising tone, and ...
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0 votes
2 answers
187 views

Some questions on how I pronounce "l" [closed]

I hope you can help as I'm teaching English overseas and I want to teach the standard pronunciation to students. I have a South African accent but I am starting to get paranoid and wonder if I ...
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0 votes
4 answers
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Why is the "long i" sound in English written /aɪ/?

The "long i" sound in English, as in "fight" is usually written /aɪ/, so fight = /faɪt/. But /a/ is the sound in "hat", and /ɪ/ is the sound in "hit". When I say the two together it doesn't sound ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
81 views

What is the difference between tense vowel and vowel with diacritic ":"?

I'm learning the vowel part of phonology. It says the cardinal vowel "i" is tense. But what is the difference between this cardinal "i" and "i:"? They are both tense, right?
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21 votes
2 answers
34k views

Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?

Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?
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11 votes
2 answers
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How languages compare with the number of different syllables from all words?

Note: I am not a linguist, please provide any corrections for terminology. I would like to find some approximate data (if it exists) comparing several languages with the number of different syllables ...
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11 votes
2 answers
873 views

Do voiceless approximants exist? What is the consensus among phoneticians/phonologists?

Voiceless sounds that are produced with supralaryngeal configurations that would be considered approximants if voiced are attested in languages (i.e. [j̊], [l̥], etc.), but none are found to contrast ...
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12 votes
4 answers
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Why are /t/ and /d/ sometimes affricated before /ɹ/ in English?

I saw a post on ELU about a more general question, Softened pronunciation of consonants, such as “t” or “s” followed by “y”. The question was answered in regard to palatalization, especially for ...
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13 votes
7 answers
41k views

What is the difference between voiced and voiceless stop consonants?

As a native speaker of American English, when I was listening to the difference sounds in this IPA chart, I was really surprised when I realized that I could not differentiate between p/b, t/d, and k/...
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12 votes
1 answer
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IPA transcription of the American English "bunched" /r/

There are 2 common articulations of /r/ and /r̩/ in American English, one retroflex, and the other dorsal. This phone is called the molar or bunched r. It can be described roughly as a back-palatal or ...
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12 votes
3 answers
6k views

Common problems in second language pronunciation

Transfer of some phonetic/phonological features from the first language to a second language is common in second language acquisition. For example, aspiration is not phonemic in English. Voiceless ...
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9 votes
3 answers
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Does sample text exist that includes most English sounds represented by the International Phonetic Alphabet?

My understanding of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is that it aims to provide a set of letter-based values that represent and map to fundamental sounds present in human languages. My ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Apical postalveolar approximant [ɹ̺] and retroflex approximant [ɻ]: What is the difference?

English [ɹ] has two realizations: apical and bunched (aka molar). ExtIPA (extensions to the IPA) thus recommends the use of [ɹ̺] and [ɹ̈] to differentiate the two. But I also often see English /r/ ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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When should I use /ə/ or /ɪ/ and why does it seem like they're not used correctly?

So I'm trying to learn the vowel sounds of the IPA, and I'm looking at the words "temerity" and "moment" in AmE. What is especially confusing is that first word, where wiktionary lists the ...
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15 votes
1 answer
721 views

Can all languages be "whispered" equally well?

Watching a movie recently I found I couldn't make out the dialogue because it was all whispered. I turned the volume up, and had no problems hearing everything. It seems to me that all words are ...
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14 votes
2 answers
3k views

About the Swedish /ɧ/

Swedish has quite a peculiarity that I haven't found (yet) in other languages. There are some spellings that are pronounced all the same way. Currently the number of these spellings is disputed, but ...
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9 votes
4 answers
1k views

What are the current hurdles to automatic audio to IPA transcription?

I have heard several people tell me that automatic segmentation and transcription to (narrow) IPA of fieldwork-quality audio is impossible at the moment, and even from laboratory-quality audio ...
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8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Rules for glottal stop insertion across languages

Many languages lack phonemic glottal stops, but regularly insert them. For example: English invariably inserts glottal stops before utterance-initial vowels, and often before word-initial vowels when ...
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7 votes
3 answers
5k views

What's the difference between [ɚ], [ɹ̩], and [əɹ]?

I've seen the "-er" sound in English (like in butter) transcribed in all three of the above ways, but I've heard there are subtle differences between them. What are these differences, if there are ...
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7 votes
3 answers
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The "writer / rider" distinction

In some dialects of English (for example: General American), “writer” is said to be pronounced differently from “rider” due to the following two phonological rules (done in this order): Vowels are ...
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6 votes
1 answer
811 views

Which IPA sounds are similar?

Question: Is there a matrix or table showing how audibly similar the different sounds from the IPA are? I'm looking for a scalar value that somehow measures the oral distance between two phonemes. ...
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5 votes
2 answers
221 views

Do languages generally tend to avoid palindromic syllables?

E.g. /knank stjajts smoms/ even they do follow the Sonority Sequencing Principle
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  • 1,067
5 votes
1 answer
404 views

Click consonant development

Can click consonants arise from non-click consonants?Or are they an original feature of all languages that was lost in the majority of them and only retained in few?
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5 votes
3 answers
672 views

Are there counterparts to phones and phonetics for signed languages?

Given that there is a difference between phonetics and phonology, and that in the study of signed languages cherology is the counterpart to phonology, are there also counterparts to phones and ...
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