Recent stays with our grandchildren showed us how the youngest 2 are getting on with acquiring language. 13 months The youngest is 13 months old. He started to produce recognisable words a couple of months ago. From the 4 days we spent with him, I would guess that he can produce around 10 to 20…… Continue reading Early words
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
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
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
Major changes occurred in the English vowel system between about 1400 and about 1750. English spelling began to stabilise before most of those changes took place. As a result, English spelling does not match well with current pronunciation, as many native and non-native learners have discovered to their cost. This post summarises one group of…… Continue reading Great English Vowel Shift
In an earlier post, I looked at how many consonant sounds there are in standard southern British English, generally known as Received Pronunciation RP). In this post, I will look at the vowels. As before, I will be looking at how many phonemes there are. The earlier post describes what a phoneme is. How many…… Continue reading How many sounds are there in English? (2): vowels
Reading Bulgarian through Russian, by Charles E Gribble (1987) is a concise textbook that aims to teach people with a good knowledge of Russian to read normal contemporary literary Bulgarian. (I haven’t seen the 2nd edition, published in 2013.) An early section of Gribble’s book lists some systematic correspondences of sounds and spellings between the…… Continue reading Bulgarian through Russian
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? 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?
Some of us learnt in school English lessons about a Japanese verse form called the haiku. We learnt then that a haiku contains a fixed number of syllables (17), divided into 3 lines: 5, then 7, then 5. Our English teachers encouraged us to experiment using that form in writing short, pithy verses in English.…… Continue reading How many syllables are there in a Haiku?