A British accent <They're a>

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James Kim

Member
Korean
I heard this sentence in a British accent from IELTS.

They're a
little more expensive than the paper napkins.

In a British accent, they're is [ðeə], but I ONLY can hear [ðer] like American accent.

I think that 'a'[ə] may affect 'they're'[ðeə].

I can write [ðeə ə ˈlɪtl] but I'm only able to hear [ðer ə ˈlɪtl]

In a British accent, ə + ə = r sound?

I don't think so though.

Anyway, could you please write down this sentence as pronounced?

Thank you in advance.
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    They're a little more expensive than the paper napkins.
    The bold part will sound like ['ðeərə] with the added 'a' before 'little'. In fast speech the schwa will not be very clear and may be partly lost simply because there is no time for it.
    In a British accent, they're is [ðeə], but I ONLY can hear [ðer] like American accent.
    There is no such distinction between BE and AE that I know of. I hear the exact same sounds in this phrase (the bold one), except that the American /r/ sound is different.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    There is a major difference in R sounds. There are "rhotic" accents that pronounce most Rs, and "non-rhotic" accents where most Rs are silent. I think all BE accents are non-rhotic, while AE has both kinds of accent. My accent is rhotic, like most Americans.

    A rhotic they're sounds almost identical to a rhotic there: [ðer]. It is 1 syllable. So the phrase "They're a little..." sounds to me the same way it sounds to you:

    [ðer ə ˈlɪtl]
    A non-rhotic accent doesn't pronounce the R in "there" except if "there" is followed by a vowel. In that case the R is pronounced. So in BE:
    - "they're funny" is [ðeə fʌni/
    - "they're a little" is [ðer ə ˈlɪtl].
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think all BE accents are non-rhotic
    Not so. There are rhotic British accents, for instance West Country accents even if you discount Scottish and Northern Irish accents.

    Back to the phrase: they're a little ...

    In slow speech: ðeɪ ər ə lɪtl (Note the /r/ there, as mentioned by doji. The rule in non-rhotic accents like mine is that if the next sound is a vowel even if it in another word, the /r/ is sounded. No /r/ in 'they are good', /r/ sounded in 'they are awful'.) In faster speech, this can be simplified to ðerə lɪtl
     
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