Wednesday, 29 February 2012

keeping schtum

Usually, when English borrows a word from some other modern language, we keep the spelling used in the source language and hesitate about the pronunciation. Thus we all agree on the spelling restaurant (from French), but disagree on how to pronounce the last syllable. We may take a cavalier line with diacritics, as when Swedish smörgåsbord becomes just smorgasbord. And with languages not written in the Roman alphabet we use a romanization, thus perestroika or tsunami. But generally speaking the spelling is not controversial, though the pronunciation may be.

There’s a word ʃtʊm that has become quite well established in the UK (or perhaps particularly in London and environs; I don’t think Americans ever use it). There is no question about its pronunciation. But we can’t agree on how to spell it. This is the other way round from what is usual.

The word means ‘silent’, and is used almost exclusively in the phrase keep ʃtʊm or its variant stay ʃtʊm ‘keep quiet (about something)’. (The OED also offers us a verb, to ʃtʊm up, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard that.)

We agree on how to say it: but how do we spell it? There are quite a few candidates.

Rather than attempt to interpret the mysteries of Google’s hit statistics, I searched the Guardian newspaper website for various possible spellings of the word.

I found
   184 hits for schtum,
   78 for shtoom,
   41 for shtum,
   21 for stumm (but some of these are for a proper name),
   15 for stum (ditto),
   5 for shtumm,
   4 for schtumm
   and 3 for schtoom.

The OED’s first citation is dated 1958. The origin of the word is Yiddish, the equivalent of German stumm ʃtʊm ‘dumb, speechless, mute, silent’. (That’s ‘dumb’ in the older sense, ‘unable to speak’, not the modern AmE sense ‘stupid’.) But we see that the spelling used in German, stumm, comes only in fourth place in the Guardian statistics. In Yiddish it’s spelt שטום, which transliterates as shtum (please correct me if I’m wrong), and this transliteration-spelling is in third place.

In German the word-initial spelling st- corresponds to ʃt. The English spellings with scht-, which look German to us, aren’t German at all.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

boundary marking

In intonation, tonality (chunking) appears to work in much the same way in all languages. The boundaries between successive intonation phrases (IPs) generally correspond to the location of syntactic (= grammatical) boundaries. Here’s what I wrote six years ago.
We regularly place an intonation break between successive sentences, usually between successive clauses, sometimes between successive phrases, and occasionally between successive words. We can even break within a word — though this is unusual and only used for special emphasis.

…The presence or absence of intonation breaks, and their location, signals to the hearer the syntactic structure of the sentence. Sometimes this structure is potentially ambiguous, and the tonality can disambiguate it. An intonation break signals a syntactic boundary…
[English Intonation, p. 187]

What I did not say was that sometimes we find an equivalent effect without an actual intonation break. A syntactic ambiguity within a single IP can sometimes (optionally) be resolved merely by a slowing down at the relevant point.

   (i) There was a lot of bloodshed.
   (ii) There was a lot of blood shed.

We can try to make it clear that we mean (ii), ‘a lot of blood was shed’, by slowing down as we say blood shed, as opposed to not slowing down for the compound noun bloodshed in (i).

I saw a nice example of this in the Sunday Times magazine two days ago, illustrating an article about ‘cheeky seaside postcards’ of half a century or more ago.
If we want to be pedantic, the compound-noun reading ought to be spelt screwdriver, solid; the noun plus vocative ought to be spelt with a comma, screw, driver. In speech, the more we slow down the more we push the hearer towards the second interpretation.

Monday, 27 February 2012


Some people call it a cougar, some call it a catamount, panther, or mountain lion. A Canadian lady I was talking to the other day, who was telling me about the hazards of hiking in the Pacific Northwest, called it a puma, and this is also its usual name in Britain.

What struck me was that my Canadian friend pronounced it ˈpuːmə, whereas I say ˈpjuːmə.

According to the OED the immediate source of this word is Spanish (and ultimately Quechua). In the case of Spanish and Italian words containing stressed u, anglicization always involves something of a contest between a foreign-style with no preceding palatal semivowel and a more native-style juː with one.

In the case of the island of Cuba the ordinary English pronunciation is ˈkjuːbə. It would be most unusual to pronounce it Spanish-style with no j.

Canned/tinned tuna likewise seems to be pronounced English-style. We Brits, who have tj- or its successor tʃ- in tube, tutor, tune, say ˈtjuːnə, ˈtʃuːnə (making it for most of us a homophone of tuner). Those Americans who have plain t in tuːb, ˈtuːt̬ɚ, tuːn say ˈtuːnə. (This is not exactly a Spanish word, since in Spanish the fish is atún, from Arabic تون tun and Latin thunnus, Greek θύννος thynnos. It is not clear why we stopped calling it ‘tunny(fish)’ and started calling it ‘tuna’. The OED says it’s American Spanish.)

In the phrase numero uno (actually of Italian rather than Spanish origin) the nu- part has or doesn’t have j according to the way we pronounce new and nude; but the uno always, I think, has plain with no preceding j.

Utah always has juː-, but several other words seem to be variable, with Brits tending to include j and Americans usually omitting it: barracuda, iguana, jaguar, iguana, mulatto, Nicaragua, vicuña.

Back to puma: I hastened to check whether I had included the yodless form in LPD. I was relieved to find that — unlike the OED and the ODP — I had. The fact that it is in thin (not thick) black type after the || shows that it is what the database calls an AME VARPRON, i.e. not the main AmE pron. I continue to regard ˈpjuːmə as the MAINPRON for both BrE and AmE, whatever my Canadian friend says. Perhaps I ouɡht to do a preference survey.

Friday, 24 February 2012

and in French

And so to Adams’s treatment of French. (As before, all transcriptions are his.)

Phoneticians jib at calling a language “phonetic”. What you really mean, we tell our beginner students, is that the writing system is phonemic, faithfully representing the pronunciation of the language. (To us all languages are phonetic in the trivial sense that all languages are spoken and therefore have a phonetics that can be described.)

Adams is unaffected by our preciseness of language.Quite apart from the uncertainties and indeterminacies of its orthography, French is also particularly difficult for speakers of English to pronounce. It sometimes seems as if almost everything that could be different is different: there is no contrastive lexical stress, the voiceless plosives are unaspirated, the vowels — all monophthongs — include front rounded vowels and nasalized vowels, the schwa is (i) rounded and (ii) appears and disappears in complicated ways depending on the surrounding sounds.

For schwa, I think Adams’s wording could have been clearer.
In spoken French, when the letter e with no accent is the only vowel-letter in a syllable and it ends the syllable or word, it is usually silent:
   mouvement [muvmɑ̃]   médecin [medsɛ̃]   ville [vil]
This silent vowel-letter is called mute e. In singing, it is generally pronounced, transcribed as /ə/ (schwa), and sounded as /œ/…
…When a mute e ends a word and the next word begins with a vowel or h, the e is never sounded in speech or singing.
   elle est [ɛlɛ]   comme a [kɔma]
   fatigue amoureuse [fatiɡ amurøːz(ə)]

That might suffice for someone who already knows about the evanescent schwa, but not I think for a beginner who doesn’t know much French. And surely comme a ought to be comme à.

For “nasal” (= nasalized) vowels, Adams rightly warns English speakers not to include an unwanted nasal consonant in words such as onde [õːd(ə)], lamente [lamɑ̃ːt(ə)], impossible [ɛ̃pɔsibl(ə)], embarquer [ɑ̃barke], encore [ɑ̃kɔːr(ə)] (“not [ɑ̃ŋkɔːr(ə)]”).

I am not convinced by Adams’s advice on how to pronounce ɥ. But surely the crucial thing is not the timing of the lip movement, it’s the position of the body of the tongue (front, not back).

Any discussion of French consonants must make a distinction between consonant sounds and consonant-letters, since the letters are often silent.

Hear, hear. Adams devotes over twenty pages to the French consonants, with a comprehensive discussion of the difficult issue of liaison. (I have to confess I wasn’t aware that final c is silent in estomac [ɛstɔma] and tabac [taba]. I did know it isn’t in sec [sɛk] and Poulenc [pulɛ̃ːk].)

For r in French art songs and opera, Adams recommends a tap, ɾ (or rather what he calls “a flip of the tongue”). However, “judicious use of the uvular sound has recently become accepted in some circles for classical singing”.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

singing in German

When he turns to the “diction” of German, Adams argues that the reputation of German as a “difficult” language (for singers whose mother tongue is English) is unjustified.
The difficulties for speakers of English are mainly the fricatives ç x, the “mixed vowels” (front rounded vowels) yː ʏ øː œ, and the monophthongs eː oː. Americans (though not so much Brits) may also find a difficult. (“The typical problem with Americans pronouncing /a/ is that it is not bright enough.”)

Adams’s advice on producing the front rounded vowels is just right. Start with the tongue position for , then keeping that position “colour” it by rounding the lips to give . In the same way turn ɪ into ʏ, into øː and ɛ into œ.

As we saw yesterday, Adams calls ʔ a glottal “stroke”. It is “required” in German not only word-initially but also in compounds and after prefixes.
in einem Augenblick ʔɪn ʔˈaenəm ʔˈaoɡənblɪk
ɡeändert ɡəʔˈɛndɐt
In singing, however, “glottal strokes should be light and quick so as not to detract from the legato line”, and are often omitted in Lieder performance.

German spelling-to-sound rules are very straightforward, with only a few traps for the unwary.
in hoch, but ɔ in doch, Koch, Loch, noch etc
in nach, sprach, brach but a in ach, Bach, Dach
in sagen and all its forms including sagst, sagt; also in haben, but a in hast, hat
in erst, Erde, Pferd, Schwert, werden but ɛ in erben, ernst, fern, hertig, gern, Herz, Schmerz, Werk
(Remember, we’re talking about classical singing here. Not all native speakers make all these vowel length differences in everyday speech.)

Adams is wrong in stating that the letter ß was abolished in the 1996 spelling reform. In fact it has been retained in such a way that certain formerly ambiguous spellings are now no longer ambiguous: ß remains in Buß, Fuß, Gruß which have , but has been replaced by ss in Fluss, Kuss, muss, Nuss, Schluss, which have ʊ. Previously (and therefore in many texts that singers will be expected to use), spellings such as Nuß left the vowel length unclear.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Italian for singers

The title of David Adams’s book A Handbook of Diction for Singers, discussed in yesterday’s blog, is followed by a subtitle “…Italian, German, French.

Despite the critical comments I made about it yesterday, I repeat that it is in many ways an excellent piece of work. (Thanks to Jill House for first bringing it to my attention.)

By “diction” Adams does not mean what literary types mean, namely choice of words, choice of means of expression — he means pronunciation and clear articulation, and in particular how to infer the pronunciation of Italian, German and French words and phrases from their spelling. I know of no other work in English that offers such a comprehensive, and as far as I can tell accurate, account of these spelling-to-sound relationships.

Here are some of the points he makes about Italian, seen from the point of view of the AmE-speaking singer. (In what follows, the phonetic transcriptions and the bracketing are those used by Adams. Let’s not get hung up criticizing this or that detail of the transcription system.)

• In pietà [pjeˈta] and fiore [ˈfjoːɾe] we have the glide /j/. To pronounce it as the vowel /i/ “is a common error that must be corrected”.

• Furthermore, when the vowel-letter i follows c or g it is important to recognize whether it “has a vowel function” or whether it is silent, serving only to soften the c or g.
caccia [ˈkattʃa]
gioco [ˈdʒɔːko], but magia [maˈdʒiːa]

• Italian u is never “silent as in French”.
French qui [ki] vs. Italian qui [kwi]
French guerre [ɡɛːr(ə)] vs. Italian guerra [ˈɡwɛrra]

• Adjacent vowels separate into different syllables under various (specified) circumstances.
a-iu-to[ aˈjuːto]
pa-u-ra [paˈuːɾa], compare au-ra [ˈaːuɾa]
Conversely, when they come together across word boundaries they form “phrasal diphthongs” or “triphthongs”.
La donna è mobile
…finchè l’aria è ancor bruna
“A characteristic of English is that words beginning with vowels are usually articulated with a glottal stroke. Students must learn not to do this in Italian, but to connect the words smoothly.”

• The letter h is always silent. After c and g it indicates “the hard sounds of those consonant-letters”.
chiaccherare [kjakkeˈɾaːɾe]
ghiaccio [ˈɡjattʃo]

• The combination gn “results in” the sound /ɲ/, and -gli- in /ʎ/ (doubled unless initial).
sogno [ˈsoɲɲo]
signore [siˈɲɲoːɾe]
meglio [ˈmɛʎʎo]
gli uomini [ˈʎwɔːmini] (“It is absolutely incorrect to pronounce the i when gli is followed by a vowel…”)

And there’s everything you would expect about doubled consonants, including those resulting from raddoppiamento sintattico.

It’s all tied in with extracts from musical settings by classical composers. Note the syllabification here in my all-time favourite aria: sia il makes a single syllable. There are fifteen pages devoted to the musical treatment of vowel sequences, diphthongs and triphthongs, in words and in phrases. Another fifteen are devoted to Guidelines for Determining Open and Closed [sic] e and o in the Stressed Syllable.

Just what the classical singer wants.

Still to come: Adams’s treatment of German and French.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

what the ell...?

Our Deputy Musical Director is struggling to find the right words to express what he wants to say to the choir. When we sing the phrase we will sing, he wants us to pronounce the l-sound in will differently from the way we would speak it.
In speech we make our l big and fat, we swallow it a little bit…
And he demonstrates the way he wants us to pronounce will when we sing.

It’s a good thing he does demonstrate it, because he doesn’t have the technical vocabulary to explain what he means. And if he had, the choir members probably wouldn’t have understood it.

If the DMD and the choir members all knew some phonetics, he could have said
When speaking this phrase we use a dark l, or even a vocalized sound. But in singing it I want you to use a clear l.

I have to hand an excellent book entitled A Handbook of Diction for Singers, by David Adams (OUP, 2008). Excellent, that is, up to a point. The author is not a phonetician (and does not claim to be). Here is what he tells us about “the Italian /l/ sound”. Although he is American, and is targeting speakers of AmE, he is attempting to make the same point as our DMD. Let’s analyse this account.

• “…with the tongue rather tense…” I know of no evidence that the two languages differ in the degree of lingual tension for l.

• “…making contact with the palate well behind the teeth…”. That is, English l is alveolar, while Italian l is dental.

• “…with a collapsed pharynx…” I’m not sure what would be involved in the collapse of the pharynx, but I’m sure it doesn’t happen every time we utter English l. Narrowed or constricted pharynx, could be; but not collapsed.

• “…the tongue must be forward…” Now we’re getting to it. Not only is the Italian sound dental, but the body of the tongue has a different configuration.

• “…the vowel shape of the preceding vowel must be behind the tongue…” Sort of true. But how do you put a “vowel shape” “behind the tongue”, rather than somewhere else? Certainly the l of Italian crudele kɾuˈdeːle should have front, e-type resonance, rather than the backer vowel resonance of the l in AmE daily. But it would be wrong to suggest that the l in Italian nulla must have u-resonance. It’s ˈnulla, not ˈnuɫɫa. Likewise, the l in colpo is not o-coloured.

• “…the sound must have resonance as well as forwardness.” But l always has resonance of some kind. The question is, of what kind?

As Kenneth Pike documented in his ground-breaking Phonetics (1943), there is a sense in which the use of vague impressionistic terms, even if they are not well-founded in anatomical and physiological fact, does not matter, as long as the teacher also offers an ostensive definition by directly demonstrating the sound involved. He called these pseudo-facts “imitation labels”.

How would I teach English-speaking students of phonetics to produce a clear l when required?

I’d start by getting them to produce some kind of l involving contact of the tongue tip with the teeth or the alveolar ridge. Keeping the tongue tip in its place there, I’d point out that it is possible to arrange the remainder of the tongue in all sorts of different configurations, which correspond to all the various vowel sounds the students know how to make. I’d get them to produce an ɑ-coloured l, then an ə-coloured, an ɔ-coloured, an ɛ-coloured, an i-coloured, even perhaps an y-coloured or œ-coloured lateral. Try all the possibilities! Make it a game! We call the laterals with back-vowel resonance “dark”, those with front-vowel resonance “clear”.

Then I’d get them to analyse what colour of l they use in various English words. Try let, look, allow, bullet, tell, field, full, all…. Are they all the same? If not, what determines the choice between them? Are the l-sounds different when we compare tell us and tell them?

Then I’d demonstrate some Italian words and get them to imitate them and analyse them in the same way. Does the l in crudele have the same vowel coloration as the l in English daily? (For some British students, it might.) If not, what is the difference? How does Italian alto differ from English alto? How does the Italian pronunciation of coloratura differ from the English pronunciation of the same word? (Not just in the l-sound!) What about fatale faˈtaːle compared with English fatal ˈfeɪtɫ̩? Say molto ˈmolto, bella ˈbɛlla, scialbo ˈʃalbo, all with a clear l.

Maybe it wouldn’t work any better or worse than Adams’s approach. But at least I’d have the warm glow of believing I had taught my students something true rather than obfuscate the matter with nonsense.

Monday, 20 February 2012

where the cow slips

It is tiresome that the English letter s (single, non-initial) does not always make it clear whether the voiceless sound s is involved or the voiced z. Just think of gas and has, use as a noun and use as a verb, or answer and pansy.

Fortunately there are some rules that hold fairly well. In final clusters, after a voiced consonant we always get z: fibs, adds, begs, slams, hens, tells. The -s is almost always inflectional, but the rule still works when it isn’t: lens lenz.

This is why newsreaders and others tend to mispronounce the name of the city of Homs, now in the news. As the Oxford BBC Guide to Pronunciation reminds us, it is properly hɒms, rather than the hɒmz we often hear. The only way this could be clearly signalled in English spelling would be if we were to write Homss.

In Arabic it’s actually حيمص Ḥimṣ ħimsˁ, with a final voiceless ‘emphatic’ (pharyngealized) alveolar fricative. The city was previously known as Emesa (Greek Ἔμεσα), again with a voiceless fricative.

I notice that in the Japanese Wikipedia it’s ホムス homusu, not ホムズ homuzu. Quite right.

I have known the word cowslip, the name of a wildflower, from an early age, and have always pronounced it ˈkaʊslɪp. As far as I know, so does everyone else. The s here does not trigger pre-fortis clipping, so it is natural to analyse the word as cow plus slip.

Recently I had a sudden thought: is it really from cow’s plus lip? Does the flower or its leaf look like part of a bovine mouth? (There’s another, similar, flower called an oxlip.) That would make the fricative an inflectional z. Are there, or were there, people who say ˈkaʊzlɪp?

But no. The OED tells us that its etymology is
Old English cú-slyppe, apparently < cow + slyppe viscous or slimy substance, i.e. ‘cow-slobber’ or ‘cow-dung’ (compare German kuh-scheisse as a plant-name in Grimm)

It’s got nothing to do with a cow’s lip. Where the cow slips, there slip I.

Friday, 17 February 2012


Students of phonetics in Britain have to learn to recognize the Cardinal Vowels established by Daniel Jones: at least the primaries (i e ɛ a ɑ ɔ o u) and four of the secondaries, namely y ø œ ɯ. Masters’ students have to learn not only to recognize them but to produce them, too.

Some readers may be surprised to learn that the cardinal vowel that generally proves most difficult for English and Scottish students to produce is primary number 8, u. These students have to learn to make a vowel sound that is considerably backer and rounder than their English GOOSE vowel.

This is also the cardinal vowel that Japanese students find most difficult.

If simple imitation failed, I generally found that the most helpful technique was to start from the English word wall. The BrE vowel in this word is reliably back. More importantly, so is the close and rounded w at the beginning. If you prolong this w instead of immediately gliding away from it, the result may be an acceptable cardinal-style u — properly close, back, and rounded. It may need to be made a little “tighter” (i.e. with a greater degree of tongue raising). Once the learner has produced that satisfactorily, you just need a few fluency and catenation exercises. Then you can compare and contrast English boot with cardinal but and moon with cardinal mun. (NB cardinal vowels have no inherent length. They can be prolonged or not at will.)

Here’s Daniel Jones’s demonstration of cardinal 8, from the recording he made in 1956.

The same difficulty faces the English-speaking learner of German. German long is just about cardinal. You can hear some authentic examples here, on Paul Joyce’s German Course site (the URL mentioned for this site in my blog for 10 July 2009 is no longer valid).

(Warning: to my ear the sound clip for this vowel on the Univ. of Iowa site sounds extremely odd and un-German. To hear it, go to Vokale, Monophthonge, hinten, and select /u/.)

Here’s Wikipedia’s sound clip for the word Fuß fuːs.

If I were teaching German I would apply the same technique. I’d emphasize the difference in sound between German du duː and English do, German Hut huːt and English hoot. And of course learners of German also have to master the front-back distinction in Brüder — Bruder ˈbryːdɐ — ˈbruːdɐ. (Both tend to get mapped onto English brooder.)

One of Joyce’s examples, Stuhl ʃtuːl, is particularly interesting. For many English people the vowel in this word, because of the following dark lateral, is not all that different from that of their English stool: the initial ʃ is no problem, but the final clear is strikingly different from the usual English ɫ used in this position.

My picture shows an eagle owl, German der Uhu ˈuːhu. Its name is onomatopoeic. It hoots in a cardinal way.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

university challenged

Thanks to Stephen Bullon for drawing my attention to the BBC TV programme University Challenge, which this week had a question requiring the identification of Shakespearean plays from IPA transcriptions of quotations from them. (If you are in the UK you can still, for the next day or two, access this episode on the iPlayer. From about 8:00 in.) It started off well enough, except perhaps that Jeremy Paxman, the questionmaster, characterized this starter question test as “rendered into phonetic English”. (As opposed, we might ask, to what other kind of English? Better, “transcribed into phonetic symbols”.) A member of the Balliol team correctly recognized “Beware the Ides of March” as coming from Julius Caesar.

But the follow-up “picture questions” were rather shocking. What do you make of this? OK, it’s “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows…”. But what kind of accent is this? Is it some kind of American or Irish English, with ɑ rather than ɒ for the LOT vowel in oxlips and nodding? Well, no, because it’s non-rhotic. Why is it so oddly transcribed? Why is the TRAP vowel rendered as æ in bank and and but as a in over-canopied? You can make a case for writing the PRICE diphthong as aj, but not for writing it indifferently as aj, ai and ɑj in just four lines. It gets worse. OK, here line 1 is still non-rhotic, but then we go rhotic. No problem. But what on earth is waːnd itsɛlf? Turns out it’s meant to be wound itself. Strangely, the last transcript offered was fine (though we might quibble about inconsistent stress marking, not to mention prevocalic alongside preconsonantal tu).

How could it happen that the BBC, in this prestigious programme aimed at a highly literate demographic, could make such a mess of simple phonetic transcription? The second and third screens were worse than average beginners, doing their very first transcription exercise, would come up with.

Yet the BBC, in its Pronunciation Unit, employs three highly qualified phoneticians, any one of whom could in ten minutes have supplied accurate transcriptions for the programme.

I think that using ignorant amateurs to set questions for a university-level quiz on national television is nothing short of scandalous.

[Since writing this, I have just noticed that John Maidment has said much the same thing in his blog, too.]

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Do you ever use desiccated coconut, when making a cake for example? If so, how do you pronounce the verb to desiccate?

Perhaps the more usual question about this word is how to spell it. The only pronunciation I have ever heard, as far as I remember, is ˈdesɪkeɪt. This stressing and vowel pattern leads people to think it should be spelt dessicate. It’s only those few of us with a knowledge of Latin who immediately see it as containing the adjective siccus ‘dry’, which explains its unexpected spelling.

But let’s return to the question of its pronunciation. Surprisingly, the OED tells us that until 1864 deˈsiccate was the only stressing given in dictionaries. The OED itself (in the second edition, 1989) still gives priority to the pronunciation dɪˈsɪkeɪt. I wonder if anybody alive actually says that, or indeed if there was anyone who still said it twenty years ago.

For the historical change in stress the OED refers us to contemplate. Shakespeare apparently stressed that word as we do today (ˈkɒntəmpleɪt).
When this is known, then to divide the times:
So many hours must I tend my flock;
So many hours must I take my rest;
So many hours must I contemplate;
So many hours must I sport myself;
So many days my ewes have been with young;
So many weeks ere the poor fools will wean:
So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:
So minutes, hours, days, months, and years,
Pass'd over to the end they were created,
Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!
Henry VI, Part III: II, 5
Nevertheless, the OED tells us,
the orthoepists generally have conˈtemplate down to third quarter of 19th cent.; since that time ˈcontemplate has more and more prevailed, and conˈtemplate begins to have a flavour of age.
The OED continues (in the second edition, 1989, still)
This is the common tendency with all verbs in -ate. Of these, the antepenult stress is historical in all words in which the penult represents a short Latin syllable, as acˈcelerate, ˈanimate, ˈfascinate, ˈmachinate, ˈmilitate, or one prosodically short or long, as in ˈcelebrate, ˈconsecrate, ˈemigrate; regularly also when the penult has a vowel long in Latin, as ˈalienate, ˈaspirate, conˈcatenate, ˈdenudate, eˈlaborate, ˈindurate, ˈpersonate, ˈruinate (Latin aliēno, aspīro, etc.). But where the penult has two or three consonants giving positional length, the stress has historically been on the penult, and its shift to the antepenult is recent or still in progress, as in acervate, adumbrate, alternate, compensate, concentrate, condensate, confiscate, conquassate, constellate, demonstrate, decussate, desiccate, enervate, exacerbate, exculpate, illustrate, inculcate, objurgate, etc., all familiar with penult stress to middle-aged men. The influence of the noun of action in -ation is a factor in the change; thus the analogy of ˌconseˈcration, ˈconsecrate, etc., suggests ˌdemonˈstration, ˈdemonstrate. But there being no remonstration in use, reˈmonstrate, supported by reˈmonstrance, keeps the earlier stress.

Except that nowadays remonstration is in use, and the stress pattern ˈremonstrate has accordingly become usual (in BrE at least). The OED acknowledges this, commenting in its third edition (2009) as follows.
N.E.D. (1906) gives the pronunciation as (rĭmǫ•nstreit) /rɪˈmɒnstreɪt/, but in O.E.D. (ed. 2, 1989) this is marked as being ‘older’ and a pronunciation with first-syllable stress is given as the dominant one. Editions of D. Jones Eng. Pronouncing Dict. up to and including 1963 record the pronunciation with stress on the second syllable as the dominant one, and this is still indicated as an alternative pronunciation even in British English in subsequent editions.
True. But nowadays we’re fed up with football managers who ˈremənstreɪt with the referee. Aren’t we?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


EFL teachers in Argentina receive excellent detailed training in English phonetics, and quite rightly want to apply this knowledge in the classroom.

From time to time I receive queries from classroom teachers there which reflect the fact that like all teachers they want a clear defined set of facts to teach, whereas we academics who train them and who write about the language tend to be conscious of the chaotic nature of the real world, in describing which any generalization has to be qualified by uncertainties and indeterminacies.

María Inés Orge asks about the usage of the schwa symbol in words like trouble and people.
The first option given in the phonetic dictionary of each word is with schwa while the the second is not. They are considered “optionals”. “Optional”,according to the dictionary, means “something you do not have to do or use, but you can choose to if you want to”.

She wants to know, then,
During a dictation of phonetics, can the option ə be considered as a mistake? Is it possible to take the sound between b and l or p and l completely out? Can I really choose the option or not?

I told her
Both pronunciations are possible. But on any given occasion the schwa is either there or not there.

It is perhaps clearest in cases like garden. If there is no schwa between the d and the n (the usual pronunciation) then the tongue remains in contact with the alveolar ridge as we move from d to n, and the only change is the movement of the soft palate, which comes down to allow the air to explode through the nose. If, on the other hand, the tongue tip leaves the alveolar ridge at the end of d and then returns to the alveolar ridge for the n, then there is a schwa between the two consonants.

In marking dictation, it is for you to decide your policy. I would not penalize presence/absence of schwa between a fricative or an affricate and n or l (as in listen, heaven, kitchen; oval, puzzle, satchel), but might penalize it after a plosive (as in happen, garden, organ; apple, middle, eagle), where the difference is perceptually more salient.

On the other hand you could decide not to penalize this at all, since the two possibilities (i) schwa plus sonorant and (ii) syllabic sonorant are phonologically equivalent. Barring marginal cases, there are no pairs of words distinguished only by this difference.

The “marginal cases” I was thinking of would be, for example, BrE ˈpætən, ˈbɪtən (pattern, bittern) vs. ˈpætn̩, ˈbɪtn̩ (Patton, bitten), which a few non-rhotic speakers may have as minimal pairs, although they are normally homophonous for me as ˈpætn̩, ˈbɪtn̩. Compare also modern as a rhyme (or not) for trodden.

I could have continued by mentioning the likelihood, these days, of l-vocalization in trouble, people and other words shown in the dictionary as having “əl”. If we represent the output of vocalization conventionally as o, that gives ˈtrʌbo, ˈpiːpo. In a transcription exercise (orthography to phonetics) I would be delighted to see these forms (particularly if phrase-final, or if the next word begins with a consonant sound). In a dictation exercise, however, I would not consider them correct if I had actually uttered (i.e. ˈtrʌbɫ etc). In the general scheme of things, though, this would count as a very minor error. People who fail phonetic dictation do so because of multiple gross errors, not because of subtleties such as worry María.

Remember, though, that optional symbols in the dictionary should not be shown as optional in these practical exercises. They should either be there or not be there. Their inclusion in the dictionary is an abbreviatory convention. In real-life performance nothing is optional. You either do it or you don’t.

Monday, 13 February 2012

an indefinite oddity

In my Phonology of English course I used to give my students a homework task as follows. I am sure the readers of this blog would have no difficulty in answering this question. We all know that the choice between preconsonantal a and prevocalic an is generally determined by pronunciation, not by spelling.

• We say and write an uncle, an urgent message ən ˈʌŋkl̩, ən ˈɜːdʒənt ˈmesɪdʒ but a unit, a Eurocrat ə ˈjuːnɪt, ə ˈjʊərəkræt, because unit and Eurocrat, despite being spelt with an initial vowel letter, begin with the sound j, and in English the two semivowels count as consonant sounds.
• We say and write a house, a heavy weight ə ˈhaʊs, ə ˈhevi ˈweɪt but an hour, an honourable man ən ˈaʊə, ən ˈɒnərəbl̩ ˈmæn, because hour and honourable, despite being spelt with an initial consonant letter, are pronounced with an initial vowel sound (the h being ‘silent’).

There’s a little problem that crops up in words beginning with the letter h in an unstressed syllable: words such as historic and hotel. Nowadays we normally say ə hɪˈstɒrɪk ɪˈvent, ə həʊˈtel. Do we write, correspondingly, a historic event, a hotel? Yes, most of us do. But some people prefer an historic event, an hotel (which to me could suggest a certain literary prissiness or conscious archaizing). Anyhow, both are accepted in writing. The Concise Oxford Dictionary puts it thus:
The h used to be dropped in these words precisely because it was in an unstressed syllable, and in polite Victorian-era English the sound h was apparently restricted to the position before a stressed vowel. A few people, not vulgar h-droppers, perhaps still today pronounce historic(al), historian with no h, at least when preceded by the indefinite article.

So far so good. But over the weekend I was reading the legal judgment in the case before the Court of Appeal concerning the Christian owners of a bed-and-breakfast who had refused a room to a gay couple. The learned justices had frequent occasion in this judgment to use the words homosexual and heterosexual preceded by the indefinite article. And in their written report they chose the form an.

This does seem strange. The initial syllables in these words do not bear the main word stress, but they do bear a lexical secondary stress, which (i) protects the vowel from reduction and (ii) is often realized as a rhythmic beat. I have never previously seen a published (non-dialectal) text that uses an in this position.

I wonder if the judge(s) in question pronounced the phrases with the n when delivering the judgment. I think it unlikely that they would have dropped the initial h.

Interestingly, the legal regulations that the judges quote refer to “a hotel”.

Friday, 10 February 2012

sync or swim

Concerning the anomalies of Velar Softening (blog, yesterday), the other side of the coin concerns the problem of spelling words in which the base form or stem has c or g, but we want to follow this with an e, i, y without implying the change from k, g to s, dʒ. (Compare the regular ‘lexical spelling’ principle which gives us this alternation in pairs such as electricelectricity, rigo(u)rrigid, where the spelling stays constant but the pronunciation changes.)

The word microphone ˈmaɪkrəfəʊn is commonly shortened to maɪk. How do we spell this shortened form? If we just truncate the spelling of the full form we get mic, which looks as if it should mean mɪk. If we add e to signal a long vowel (compare rid rɪdride raɪd) it collides with mice maɪs. If we change c to k it looks like the man’s name Mike and we lose the link with mic-. Insoluble problem.

In long-established words a spelling adjustment may be entrenched. Alongside hundreds of examples like electricelectricity we have opaque (-k) — opacity (-s-), where the switch from c to qu in the adjective enables us to use the final silent e in the usual way. (This would argue for spelling maɪk as mique.) And anyhow, given revoke — revocation (from Latin -vŏc-), you might expect opake for opaque. If the spelling opaque owes something to French, on the other hand, compare the French révoquer, which has not led us to spell the English word as revoque.

Singers who mime to a video track have to synchronize their lip movements with those they see on the screen. Originally, I suppose, this was known as lip-synchronizing, but nowadays we normally shorten this in speech to ˈlɪp ˌsɪŋkɪŋ. The same applies to many other uses of synchronize, synchronization. The soundtrack is not quite in sync with the picture, things are out of sync. (But for synchronizing your watches and synchronized swimming we keep the long form.)

When we come to write the ing-form down we have something of a problem. Wikipedia currently has one article entitled Lip sync and another entitled Lip-synching in music. The spelling sync is fine for the base form, but when we add -ing we may feel the need for the h. (Though Google records three million-odd hits for the awkward syncing, which is the spelling Apple uses. A Google search on synching evokes “Did you mean syncing?).

Perhaps we should launch a campaign to spell it synquing.

Thursday, 9 February 2012


A footnote to yesterday’s discussion of garage:

The leader of UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party, whose main policy is that the UK should secede from the European Union) is Nigel Farage. The Independent on Sunday newspaper this week had an interview with him, in the course of which the interviewer asked how we should pronounce his surname.So Mr Farage himself says ˈfærɑːdʒ (or possiblyˈfærɑːʒ), but he doesn’t mind much what anyone else says.

* * *
It seems to be five years since I last wrote (blog, 23 Jan 2007) about the vagaries of Velar Softening — the principle by which velar k and g change to coronal s and respectively in Latinate words when the following vowel is spelt i, e, ae, oe, or y. From the point of view of spelling-to-sound rules, Velar Softening is responsible for the fact that before the vowel letters mentioned the letter c is almost always pronounced s in modern English, while the letter g is quite often (but NB the many Germanic words such as give, get).

Historically, before the Great Vowel Shift of six hundred years ago, this made sense. You had palatalization (softening) before palatal vowels. Since the GVS its naturalness has disappeared, which is why we now have various anomalies. For example, we may be uncertain about the consonants in loci (plural of locus) and fungi (plural of fungus).

One disturbing factor is the power of morphological analogy (this term is self-referential!). Given that the word analogy is əˈnælədʒi, there is pressure for the related analogous to be əˈnælədʒəs rather than the standard əˈnæləɡəs. Given that meningitis has , there is pressure for meningococcal to have it too. Yet you don’t generally expect g to be before o.

I was thinking about the word centrifugal. With the hesitation about its stress pattern, in BrE at least, it might be a good word to include in my next pronunciation preference poll: do we prefer ˌsentrɪˈfjuːɡl̩ or senˈtrɪfjʊɡl̩? Latin fŭga ‘flight, fleeing’ has a short vowel, so we “ought” to give this word antepenultimate stress (as apparently Americans always do). But the contrast with its antonym centripetal exerts a countervailing pressure for penultimate stress. As Newton discovered, the orbits of the planets depend on the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces.

I should imagine that the noun centrifuge is about as well known (or not) as the adjective centrifugal. But there doesn’t seem to be any analogical contamination from one to the other. I have never heard anyone use in centrifugal, or for that matter g in centrifuge.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012


I think this roadside sign would leave most British people nonplussed. Americans, on the other hand, would presumably find its meaning transparent.

There are two reasons why Brits wouldn’t know what to make of it:
(i) That’s not how we pronounce garage;
(ii) We’re not familiar with the expression ‘garage sale’.

To take the second point first: LDOCE defines a garage sale as ‘AmE a sale of used furniture, clothes etc from people’s houses, usually held in or near someone’s garage’. (For other American terms for this, see here.) In Britain you’d sell such items either at a ‘car boot sale’ (LDOCE: an outdoor sale where people sell things from the back of their cars) or at a ‘jumble sale’ (AmE: rummage sale). Or you could give them to a charity shop (AmE: thrift shop).

Users of LPD will know that garage was one of the words I investigated in my 1998 BrE pronunciation preference survey. This showed that younger British people increasingly prefer the thoroughly anglicized ˈɡærɪdʒ over the semi-French ˈɡærɑː(d)ʒ preferred by their elders. American-style final-stressed ɡəˈrɑː(d)ʒ averaged only 6% support.
In the BrE survey I did not separate out those who prefer a final fricative () from those who prefer a final affricate (-dʒ). That, however, was the focus of Yuko Shitara’s 1993 investigation of this word. She found that just over half of her American respondents preferred the fricative, just under half the affricate.

So now we see who the people are for whom the spelling “groj” makes sense. They’re the people who use final stress and a final affricate in this word, and for whom father rhymes with bother. This makes garage ɡəˈrɑːdʒ rhyme with lodge lɑːdʒ. All that is needed then is an inferred sleb-type compression (blog, 6 Dec 2011).

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

the quality of SQUARE

I tend to assume that my readers and correspondents have the kind of basic knowledge of linguistics that would involve an understanding of how the term “phoneme” is used (despite the fact that more sophisticated phonologists may well consider that the concept of the phoneme is unsustainable and based on ultimately untenable theoretical assumptions).

But some of the queries I receive show that this is not necessarily the case. Or at least people are not comfortable with the convention that slashes / / are used to enclose symbols for phonemes, but that symbols for speech sounds ~ realizations ~ allophones ~ variants properly go inside square brackets [ ]. (Or you can do as I do in this blog and merely embolden phonetic symbols without reference to their phonological status unless relevant.)

I would like to know your point of view about // and /ɛ:/.

Cruttenden lists [the change from the first to the second] among the "changes almost complete". Also Collins and Mees, in their Practical Phonetics and Phonology, have already opted for the /ɛ:/ symbol since 2003. The open /ɛ:/ is the only one found in Upton's ODP too. […]

I was wondering why both in your LPD and the EPD this alternative pronunciation is not transcribed. I might be wrong, but in my opinion, the /ɛ:/ phoneme could now be considered as part of the phonetic inventory of current BrE.

This question is of course not about phonemes but about the realization and notation of one particular phoneme (the SQUARE vowel).

Here’s what I replied.

I am of course well aware of the monophthongal variant of the SQUARE vowel. Please read what I wrote at .

In LPD I took the decision to be conservative in phonetic notation for RP, sticking for example with Gimson's EPD symbols for the TRAP and GOAT vowels. Upton has made a different decision (including a very regrettable notation for the PRICE vowel).

I personally have a centring diphthong as my usual pronunciation of SQUARE in most phonetic positions. Perhaps that shows my age.

I shall not be changing the transcription in any future edition of LPD, but I agree I ought to insert a note to the effect that many people use a monophthongal quality. This, however, is not a new "phoneme", as you seem to believe. It is an alternative realization of an existing phoneme. There is no possibility of words being distinguished by the choice between the monophthongal and diphthongal variants of SQUARE.

Was I being too pedantic? If so, it’s what comes of a lifetime reading and commenting on students’ essays.

Anyhow, the take-home message is that monophthongal SQUARE is fine. But not obligatory.

Monday, 6 February 2012

where is everybody?

Despite a light fall of snow, I turned up at my running club yesterday morning as usual for the social run/jog. In view of the slippery ground, though, we decided on this occasion just to make it a brisk walk.

On a normal Sunday morning we expect 60 to 70 people for the social. (The more serious runners will have already set off half an hour or an hour earlier.) But yesterday at starting time there were a mere twenty or so.

As someone said,
• ˈWhere \is everybody?

Your task for today is to account for the tonicity of this sentence. Why does the intonation nucleus go on is?

When, years ago, I discussed this type of sentence with Japanese EFL students, they pointed out, quite rightly, that the most important word seemed to be where. Why does it not bear the nucleus?

The fact is that it doesn’t. Not only in English, but apparently in all the Germanic languages, the nucleus in this type of sentence goes on the verb ‘to be’ — even though, on the face of it, this word has very little semantic importance. It’s not as if we were asking where everyone is as opposed to where they are not. Nor are we asking where they are as opposed to where they were. That is, in this case the verb is not marked for polarity or tense (which is what is usually the case when the nucleus is on the verb ‘to be’).

Perhaps there is no better explanation than to say that it is arbitrary, idiomatic.

In my book English Intonation I included a section (3.18) entitled “Wh + to be”.
The fact is that it would be utterly unidiomatic in English to say
• ˈHow are you?
or (absent any contrastive context)
• ˈTell me ˈwhat it is.

Just as in English you might ask
• ˈWhere ˈis she?
so in German you would ask
• ˈWo ˈist sie?

So much for cases where the subject is a personal pronoun. If, on the other hand, the subject is a demonstrative or a proper name or a lexical NP, then it will by default bear the nucleus, while the verb ‘to be’ is not only unaccented but usually (in a direct question) contracted.
• ˈWho’s ˈthat?
• ˈHow’s ˈMary?
• ˈHow’s your ˈwife?
• ˈTell me ˈwhat that ˈsquiggle is.

All the examples of pronoun subjects that I put in this section of my book involved personal pronouns. But not all pronouns are personal pronouns. In fact everybody is a good example of a non-personal pronoun, and I ought to have included an example of that too. The deaccenting rule, with accenting of ‘to be’, applies to everybody (or everyone) just as it does to other pronouns (except demonstrative ones).

You may care to consider also the similar behaviour of pronominal all and both:
• ˈWhere ˈare they all?
• ˈHow ˈare they both?

Friday, 3 February 2012

newly minimal

Christian UffmannChristian Uffmann reports an interesting development that he has observed in 18-year-old applicants for university places at Sussex. He asked them whether ruler (king) and ruler (for measuring or drawing straight lines) are homonyms or not. The unanimous opinion was that they are not homonyms, because they are pronounced differently. (So technically they would be homographs.)

This is because in southeastern England // has developed two very distinct allophones: a truly back [] before tautosyllabic (or stem-final) /l/, but a fronted quality approaching [] in other positions. The kingly ruler, ˈruːlə, is taken as transparently bimorphemic, rule#(e)r, so retains the back of rule; but the measuring ruler, ˈryːlə, has lost touch with its origins and is taken as an unanalysable unit, with a corresponding clear l and fronted vowel .

This parallels the “GOAT split” that I described for London English in Accents of English (p. 312–313) and which gives us non-rhyming goal#ie vs. slow#ly.

As Uffmann comments, in his Facebook status update from which I have taken this,
GOOSE fronts to (y) but not before tautosyllabic L. This is complicated by morphology, so in king ruler you preserve (u), a neat cyclicity effect which is now leading to a phonemic split, for GOOSE and much more advanced in GOAT, which has acquired exceptions. For example, polar and molar have different vowels.

The l sounds are presumably different, too.
king r[u:]ler precisely because it is transparently related to r[u:]le, but desk r[y:]ler. I do think the l's are different, so this is something to look into.
In the citation form of rule you would expect the l to be vocalized, making it a close back vocoid. But before a following vowel a linking lateral contoid is retained.

Christian also says
I was struck by the unanimity, because the informal surveys on the GOOSE/GHOUL and GOAT/GOAL split that I have done so far all pointed at a lot of variation. So while many people have [y:] in 'roulette', you do find speakers that have [u:], etc. The only other stable minimal pair with [u:/y:] that I had found previously was 'cooler' ([u:] )vs our esteemed colleague Nancy Kula ([y:]).

I think Brits just realised that without a three-way back/round opposition, you're not a proper Germanic language, so they're reintroducing the contrast.

I suggested that we may have a similar development in, for example, feeling vs. Ealing, failing vs. railing(s), where again the first of each pair is morphologically transparent, leading to an epenthetic schwa (“Breaking”) and a dark l as in feel and fail, whereas the second is seen as morphologically indivisible, so has a clearer l and no schwa.

The up-and-coming young scholar, possibly as yet unknown, who attempts a comprehensive new description of son-of-RP English phonetics will have to cope with a newly complex vowel system. Just as the vocalization of historical r and its effect on the preceding vowel gave us the centring diphthongs, so further new diphthongs are arising as a consequence of the the vocalization of l.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


One of the numbers our choir is preparing for the summer show is the Pilgrims’ Chorus from Wagner’s Tannhäuser. We are singing it in German.

Dismayed by the attempt at German pronunciation on our practice tracks, I have prepared some phonetic notes (now revised in the light of comments) to help people with pronouncing the German text. They include not only general advice but also an IPA transcription of the lyrics we have to sing.

Der Gnade Heil ist dem Büßer beschieden,
er geht einst ein in der Seligen Frieden;
vor Höll’ und Tod ist ihm nicht bang’,
drum preis’ ich Gott mein Leben lang!

deːr ɡnaːdə haɪl ɪst deːm byːsɐ bəʃiːdən
eːr ɡeːt aɪnst aɪn ɪn deːr zeːlɪɡən friːdən
fɔr foːr hœl ʊnt toːt ɪst iːm nɪçt baŋ
drʊm praɪs ɪç ɡɔt maɪn leːbən laŋ

One thing I am not certain about is the possible differences between everyday pronunciation and what is appropriate in classical singing.

According to what I have read, in singing it is sort of customary to pronounce a tongue-tip r rather than a uvular ʁ, and to use ər rather than the ɐ of ordinary speech. Here’s the rather confused message offered on the subject by the Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch (p. 118).

r-Laute: meist Bildung von Zungenspitzen-R ([r]), oft auch in Positionen, in denen beim Sprechen vokalisierte Formen oder reduziertes Reibe-R ([ʶ]) gebildet werden; daneben aber besteht die Tendenz zu Vokalisierung wie beim Sprechen; Reibe-R ([ʁ]) und Zäpfchen-R ([ʀ]) sind selten. r sounds: more often than not the use of tongue-tip R ([r]), including in positions in which vocalized forms or reduced fricative r ([ʶ]) are used in speech; but alongside this there exists, as in speaking, the tendency to vocalization; fricative r ([ʁ]) and uvular r ([ʀ]) are rare.

So ought I to prescribe deːr for der, or deːɐ̯? (Either would be better than dɜː.) Should Büßer be ˈbyːsər or ˈbyːsɐ?

Fortunately we have a native speaker of German in the choir, who has recorded the words for us. He pronounces them as in everyday speech.

Any comments from those who know more about German phonetics than I do will be very welcome.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

January in the Leewards

Our stay in Montserrat last month happened to coincide with the annual conference of the Leeward Islands District of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas, held in Montserrat for the first time since the volcanic disaster of 1995-1997. Translated into Anglican terminology, this was the equivalent of a diocesan synod.

I attended the Conference Welcome Service. As well as over a hundred conference delegates, there were scores of dignitaries present, including the Governor of Montserrat and the Premier of Montserrat, and also hundreds of people from the general public, by no means all of them Methodists. (Montserrat is very ecumenical. The service was actually held in a Roman Catholic church, since none of the Methodist churches on the island were large enough.)

We tend to forget how multilingual the Caribbean is. The Leeward Islands Circuit District covers not only the formerly British islands of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Kitts-Nevis, and the still British Montserrat and the British and American Virgin Islands, but also the Netherlands or ex-Netherlands Antilles (nearby St Martin, Saba and St Eustatius, and distant Aruba and Curacao) and missions in the French island of Guadeloupe. So we had greetings not only in English but also in Dutch, French, Papiamento, “patois” (i.e. Kwèyól, the French Creole spoken in Dominica) and Spanish — though not in any English-lexicon Caribbean Creole. We had Bible readings in French and Dutch as well as English.

Most of the service, though, was in English. This provided a useful opportunity to observe varieties of clerical English from throughout the Leewards. I was struck by how homogeneous they all were. In the formal style of a church service I really cannot distinguish an Antiguan from a Kittitian from a Virgin Islander (though perhaps locals could).

From an EFL perspective, all fall very clearly under BrE, not AmE. In most BATH words they have the long vowel, the same as in father. Except to some extent in NURSE words, they are non-rhotic (and in this the Leeward islanders differ from Jamaicans and very strikingly from Bajans). Local characteristics include usually monophthongal FACE and GOAT vowels and merged NEAR-SQUARE, together with variability in θ~t, ð~d and variable cluster reduction.

This applies even to the delegates from St Thomas, St John and St Croix, which have been American for nearly a century but whose inhabitants retain the British-style English their forebears had under Danish rule.

Pronunciation reminder: ænˈtiːɡə, bɑːˈbjuːdə, ˌdɒmɪˈniːkə, ˈniːvɪs, ˈseɪbə, krɔɪ.