How German speakers pronounce English  

Someone’s first language tends to cause consistent errors when they speak a second language. I’ve always found it interesting see what types of error people make in speaking (or writing) English they have learnt as a foreign language. Those errors can be useful pointers to the features of the speaker’s first language. Spotting those errors…… Continue reading How German speakers pronounce English  

Hangul Day

Today (9 October) is Hangul Day. Hangul is the name used in South Korea and most of the world for the writing system used in writing Korean.   Origin of Hangul Before the 15th century, most written documents in Korea were in Chinese. When Korean was written, people used Chinese characters, known in Korean as…… Continue reading Hangul Day

Great English Vowel Shift

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

Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

I have just read a paper describing 16 differences between Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian. The description was in a paper that looked for the border between language varieties separated by each difference. The paper also looked at whether those borders match national borders and how close the varieties are to each other. The authors…… Continue reading Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

How many sounds are there in English? (2): vowels

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

Is Russian difficult for English speakers?

I’ve sometimes heard people describe Russian as a difficult language for native English speakers. It is, indeed, a little more difficult for such learners than languages related more closely to English, such as other Germanic languages or the Romance languages. On the other hand, it is probably less difficult for them than completely unrelated languages.…… Continue reading Is Russian difficult for English speakers?

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