Author Topic: English Vowels  (Read 2822 times)

Offline Meta

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English Vowels
« on: April 28, 2016, 07:14:40 AM »
Hi all,

Who would you turn to for a definitive answer/ reference on the number of vowel phonemes in Southern British English? (for a research project)


Online Daniel

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Re: English Vowels
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2016, 11:44:19 AM »
There is no "answer" to that. You first would need to define "Southern British English" (there are dozens of potential dialects to consider, as well as social differences like RP vs. the rest).

A reference book of some sort about English dialects would probably be a good place to start. There are so many possible sources, though, I wouldn't know where to suggest more than anything else. The best source would probably be one that compares a few dialects so that you know exactly what variety they are describing and how it differs from the rest.

For a simple answer, Wikipedia has a pretty good summary and chart, I believe on the page that explains the IPA transcription conventions for English.
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Offline panini

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Re: English Vowels
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2016, 08:38:03 AM »
Apart from the problem of defining the specific dialect you are interested in, you also need to be more specific about what theory of "phoneme" you are assuming. The main theoretical split is between those who just look at narrowly transcribed surface pronunciations and reduce variation to phonetically-defined rules, versus those who construe "phoneme" as being "sound that cannot be derived by rule". The contested area is when a vowel quality is not phonetically predictable, because a conditioning factor changes (e.g. r is later deleted, schwa is later inserted). There will always be some unresolvable controversy about length / tenseness / diphthongs (i.e. does English have the contrast /[i:], [ɪ]/ or [ɪ]/[ɪj] – there are other analyses, so expect some chaos).

Offline Meta

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Re: English Vowels
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2016, 01:57:58 AM »
so expect some chaos

Oh dear.... what have I got myself into??

Thanks very much for your replies. No doubt there will be more to follow....