Sequential voicing (rendaku) in Japanese

In Japanese, the second component of a compound word undergoes a process called known as rendaku (sequential voicing). Tsujimura (1996) summarises the main principles of rendaku: If an independent word starts with an unvoiced consonant, that initial consonant becomes voiced if the word is the 2nd component of a compound word.nevertheless, if the 2nd component…… Continue reading Sequential voicing (rendaku) in Japanese

Cat Noir: how children learn non-native sounds

My granddaughter has just turned 4 and has recently become very keen on a cartoon character called cat noir. She pronounces noir as a two-syllable word, with a vowel [ə] inserted after the [n]: [nə.waː]. In contrast, many speakers of British English—including her 6-year-old sister—pronounce this word as a single syllable: either [nwa] or with…… Continue reading Cat Noir: how children learn non-native sounds

Mandarin sibilants

Mandarin has many more sibilant sounds than English does.  I have always found it hard to keep them apart, both in listening and in speaking. The following table shows for each sibilant sound first the official romanised (pinyin) spelling and then, in [square brackets], a transcription in the alphabet of the International Phonetic Association.  FricativeAffricateAspiratedaffricateDentals…… Continue reading Mandarin sibilants

I want a brink

Small children take time learning how to produce the consonants in their native language. Often, they replace one consonant with another. It seems this is often about their system for producing sounds, not about their system for perceiving and distinguishing sounds. Here is a good recent illustration from my grandson (aged 4 years, 1 month).…… Continue reading I want a brink

Learning some English Consonants (2)

I’ve posted before about my grandson’s journey in learning English consonants. My earlier post is at https://languagemiscellany.com/2021/07/learning-some-english-consonants/ It comments on how he was pronouncing some consonants at the age of 3 years, 6 months. He is now 3 years, 11 months and is still doing what I recorded in that post. He regularly, especially at…… Continue reading Learning some English Consonants (2)

How many sounds are there in English?

How many sounds are there in English? It all depends on what you mean by English and what you mean by sounds. In this post, I will talk about the sounds of standard southern British English, generally known as Received Pronunciation. Phonemes The only feasible way to analyse the set of sounds used in a…… Continue reading How many sounds are there in English?

How do you say Llantwit Major?

A son of one of my ancestors was born in Axbridge (Somerset) but later settled in the village of Llantwit Major in Glamorgan (Wales). According to Wells (2014), Llantwit Major is an English-speaking area and its name is actually English, though that name begins with the characteristic Welsh syllable llan-, meaning church. Wells states that the…… Continue reading How do you say Llantwit Major?

Fleeting vowels in Abrdn

The asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen has struggled to establish its brand ever since it was formed by a merger in 2017 between the insurer Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management. Have they now found an answer? The company announced in April 2021 that it would rebrand itself as Abrdn and that the name would…… Continue reading Fleeting vowels in Abrdn