Questions tagged [phonetics]

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

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60
votes
10answers
84k views

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?
42
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15answers
465k views

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'...
41
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6answers
5k views

How do linguists place the vowels of a language precisely on the vowel trapezoid?

Since vowels in human speech are a continuous spectrum rather than a discrete set, many descriptions of languages I’ve seen — not only on Wikipedia — place the vowels of a language as dots in a two-...
37
votes
5answers
6k views

Why is there (almost) no variety to the Hebrew accent in Israel?

Hebrew is my native language, and I grew up and spent most of my life in Israel. Unlike English, in Hebrew we don't have a variety of accents. In fact, generally all of the people in Israel have the ...
37
votes
4answers
6k views

Why isn't “I've” a proper response?

Suppose someone asked me the question, "Have you completed the project?". A standard response would be "I have". Why does the equivalent "I've" sound so strange and never used as a replacement? I am ...
22
votes
23answers
21k 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?
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Is the schwa sound consistent?

The first syllable in "about" (ə'baʊt) is schwa, so is the second one in the "salad" ('sæləd), but iv'e never heard them pronounced the same way. in salad it sounds more like the i in "trick". ...
20
votes
2answers
31k views

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

Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?
18
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the function of the soft sign (Ь) in Russian?

After some searching, I'm still unsure about what function the soft sign (Ь) performs in Russian. I have read that it indicates declension, palatisation, and iotation in different contexts, but with ...
18
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3answers
4k views

Why does stop VOT duration vary depending on place of articulation?

From the (albeit citation needed) section of the Wikipedia article on aspiration: Spanish /p t k/, for example, have voice onset times (VOTs) of about 5, 10, and 30 milliseconds, whereas English /p ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
17
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4answers
39k 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 ...
16
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4answers
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 ...
16
votes
4answers
828 views

Why do rhotics pattern together?

Looking at the IPA, many different types of sounds are given symbols based of of the Latin R,r: approximants, trills, taps/flaps; both coronal and uvular segments. Sometimes, these sounds are ...
15
votes
1answer
654 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 ...
14
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3answers
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 ...
14
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5answers
4k views

Alternatives to IPA?

Are there any other graphic systems that attempt to be as complete as the International Phonetic Alphabet?
14
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2answers
3k views

When and where did the guttural 'r' originate?

I have often wondered why French is (almost) unique in the Romance languages in using the guttural 'r' – in particular, the uvular fricative. Apart from Piedmontese / Piedmontese Italian (and even ...
13
votes
3answers
12k views

Is the “p” in “spin” really a “b”?

Daniel Everett claims in Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes (Ch. 11) that the English "p" and "b" in "pin" and "bin" are separate phonemes, since they alone distinguish the words "pin" and "bin," whereas ...
13
votes
9answers
7k views

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 ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

Which languages other than Chinese have apical vowels?

Which languages other than some Chinese languages have apical vowels? The "apical vowels" are the i in zi, ci, si (in IPA: z̩ (also seen as ɿ)) and ʐ̩ (also seen as ʅ). They are basically buzzed ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do tone and simple syllable structure appear to be correlated?

I happen to have been struggling to learn a bit of Mandarin Chinese lately, and it's been my first attempt to really deal with tones to any significant extent. I find distinguishing tones quite ...
13
votes
2answers
851 views

Has there been any research into the phonetics of ventriloquism?

I have always been impressed by the skills of ventriloquists - and I've been wondering lately whether anyone has done any work looking at the acoustic or articulatory properties of the speech of ...
13
votes
1answer
302 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

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 ...
13
votes
3answers
264 views

term for gibberish intended to resemble specific language

Is any term identified, among linguists, for an effect by which some speech or text has no meaning, and yet superficially resembles, by following certain patterns, speech or text from a particular ...
13
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2answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
40k 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/...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Non-African Click Languages

Paralinguistic clicks are quite common across world's languages. But paralinguistic clicks usually appears as ideophones. But why is Africa the only continent that uses click consonants? Are there any ...
12
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9answers
5k views

Is there an easy way to type IPA?

I'm currently using the virtual IPA keyboard on TypeIt, but it takes forever. Is there an easy way to type IPA? I've found this list of Unicode keyboards on SIL.org but I'm not too sure how to ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a difference between /ɕ/ and /sʲ/?

Are /ɕ/ and /ʑ/ simply shorthand for /sʲ/ and /zʲ/ as with many of the possible diacritic combinations in IPA or are they different sounds? If they are the same, is there any good reason to use one ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

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 ...
12
votes
1answer
405 views

Is there any other language containing the sound of the “evanescent l” in Venetian?

Venetian (the Italo-Romance language spoken in the area of Italy roughly corresponding to the Veneto region) has a weird sound which is usually called l evanescente (evanescent l). It varies ...
12
votes
1answer
253 views

Are there guides to analysing phonetic data in R?

I need references like papers/articles/books by and for people who use R for analysing phonetic data. I have Harrington's (2008) Phonetic Analysis of Speech Corpora, and it's great, but a lot of other ...
12
votes
1answer
315 views

Are there any alternatives to Source-Filter theory?

The linear source-filter theory of speech production ( Fant, G. (1970) Acoustic Theory of Speech Production; Stevens and House (1961)) is very useful for understanding speech synthesis and a ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
12
votes
2answers
742 views

Do dialects without the meet-meat merger neutralize the distinction in some contexts?

For many dialects of English (including my own) multiple historical lexical sets are merged into one "FLEECE" set (this diaphoneme can be represented with IPA /iː/). I've read about the basics of the ...
11
votes
7answers
21k views

Why are consonants distinguished differently than vowels?

Consonants are distinguished normally by features like place of articulation, manner of articulation, voiced/voiceless, etc. while vowels are usually distingusihed by stuff like tongue's position and ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Why IPA does not indicate “soft” consonants in English?

I am a native Russian speaker. Sometimes I encounter English speakers who are trying to learn Russian and wonder how to pronounce "soft" consonants. At the same time while learning English I noticed ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

What's the difference between /ɪ/ and /i(ː)/?

In English there's the vowel sound /ɪ/ as in "bin" and /i(ː)/ as in "been". My girlfriend, who is Greek, cannot perceive the difference, but to me they sound very different. Is the difference ...
11
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it feasible to create an IPA adaptation for cats?

I was trying to transcribe my cat's noises into IPA. For example, her wanting to be petted is like [njæː] or [njaː]. But purring doesn't seem to fit any existing notation, except maybe [ʜ]. Has anyone ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there an IPA character for the sympathetic sucking in sound?

Is there an IPA symbol for the sound you might make when you burn yourself or someone tells you a story about an injury they have—when you suck your breath quickly through your teeth with your ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

Can a stop be both voiced and aspirated?

One day while discussing things with my friends, we came across the topic of trying to pronounce the sound [gh]. No such symbol actually exists in the IPA to my knowledge, but hypothetically it would ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/?

Why has Paris French mostly lost the distinction between /e/ and /ɛ/? As in, the difference between 'Je le ferai' and 'Je le ferais', 'poignée' and 'poignet', or more simply between the é sound and ...
11
votes
1answer
705 views

Diachronic devoicing of initial lenis plosives in English

I get the impression that in the "classical Received Pronunciation" of English during phonetician Jones's era, the lenis plosives /b/, /d/, /g/ (and probably the affricate /dʒ/ as well) in initial ...
11
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3answers
5k 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do languages have different syllable complexity from each other?

Assuming human vocal tracts are similar and equally capable of articulating different syllable structures, why is it that languages develop different syllable complexity? Why is it that it is not ...
10
votes
3answers
12k views

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 ...
10
votes
3answers
7k views

How can the IPA vowels be memorized?

Memorizing IPA consonants is trivially easy; each symbol represents one sound, and that sound can be described with a variety of parameters about manner of articulation, etc. The IPA vowels, however, ...
10
votes
2answers
555 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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