pronunciation: feel, real, deal

  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I don't say it that way but I can distinguish the way some people say marry differently because there was an old TV series where one of the characters did. At the time, I just thought it was a quirk. I didn't know it was significant.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, all the same. That's basically what the red on the chart I posted above means. I have lived in (different) red* areas all my life. For other people, some are different. And not necessarily in the same consistent ways, I think. It can vary by word as well.

    A good example is bury.

    Bury rhymes with berry for me. But for some people, bury is very different, even if the others are the same. It's like the word burr + y, not bear + y.

    * majority red, other colors are mixed in underneath
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    True, but they say "My name is Merry/Mary".
    Depends on who "they" is. I have known one person in my lifetime named Merry. She was born in 1917. She went by her middle name which was Frances. I didn't find out her name was Merry till I read her obituary.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, Merry is not a common name here at all. Nor is Pippin (autocorrected to Poop in ;)). (Nor is Pippa.)
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    If foreign learners of English aren't taught these distinctions, they're heading for trouble, whatever folks in Delaware or Dagenham get away with between themselves.
    Absolutely. In my opinion, a foreign learner of English should stick with one dialect (as much as possible), then pick up other dialects later, like native speakers do. At age 14, I couldn't understand BE. I could barely understand Texan.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I agree with Keith Bradford's advice to learners, but I still do not know how "Mary" is meant to sound different from "merry". Is it with the "a" sound of "maybe"? (I have a cousin from the deep South who uses that vowel in "Sarah".)
    Imagine you replace the r with any other consonant: Macy, Kaly, Amy and Messy, Kelly, Emmy.... Now you hear two distinct vowels... extend that to Mary, Cary and Merry, Kerry.
    You can try also maybe daily dairy, deli derry... haley hairy, jelly jerry keeping the vowels the same.

    Using the map Kentix put up I'm from an area where there is absolute no merger. Thank goodness! ;)
     
    Last edited:

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Well, I didn't create it. All props to Joshua Katz, who I believe was still a graduate student at the time he did that work.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    And every last one of those is a perfect rhyme for me.

    Really! We send you on a simple errand to colonise the Americas and buy a fairy costume for your cousin Mary. And what do you come back with? A ferry costume for cousin Merry. You've lost two whole vowels there! I'm not going to trust you to go shopping again!

    I think the vowel that AE has really lost is /æ/ (as in black cat) which has become assimilated to /e/ (as in red bed) and pronounced /eə/. In a non-rhotic accent, as many in Britain are, this is so similar to /eəʳ/ (as in rare fare) that two whole vowels go by the wayside.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think you are wrong on that. I have read that BE has one more vowel sound than AE, but it's not /æ/. We're all in on /æ/. After all, we still believe in taking a bath, not a bahhhhth. ;)

    Cat hat sat pat - all /æ/.

    You might be thinking of Canadians, where bag (for some) turns into something like beg (or beig?).

    Added:

    I think the one we don't have is this one, but I don't even know what it sounds like. /ɒ/
     
    Last edited:

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    Some years back I posted a link to a recording of a man saying "Mary dear, make me merry; say you'll marry me." If anybody is bored enough to go searching for it.... :D

    It sounded to me like he was using the 'cat' (AE "short A") vowel for marry, the 'bed' (AE "short E") vowel for merry, and the vowel from mare (AE "long A") for Mary.
     

    JillN

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Hey I wanted to ask about the American pronouciation of the long i: sound when it stands right before the letter L. In words such as feel, deal, real, meal etc. I pronounce them as if they were fill rill dill and mill and i have heard it many times that they were pronounced like that by the natives. And the question is: is it a mistake to do so ? I mean pronouncing it the way I do is much more comfortable.
    By the way, if you look up these words on WordReference and use the "listen" button next to them, you can hear it in a wide range of accents including US Southern.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    With the caution that that's one Southern accent by one guy. And it's a pretty strong one. There are a whole range of others as well.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Does a simple change in pronunciation constitute a dialect? Are no grammatical changes involved?
    We are not just talking about different realizations of one phoneme but about the merging of phonemes, which leads to confusion for speakers unfamiliar with the merger. Even for speakers with a particular merger, vocabulary often has to be adjusted.

    Where I live, pin and pen are merged even though pit and pet are not. We tend to say things like "straight pin", "ink pen", etc., instead of simply pin or pen because otherwise even we can misunderstand one another.

    And I have certainly been confused by speakers with different mergers than mine saying, for example, "wail" when they meant "whale", "deli bread" instead of "daily bread", or "selling" for "sailing".

    If a foreign learner of English assumes all the mergers from all over the English speaking world represent equivalent phonemes, they will probably not be understandable anywhere.
     

    reformed lurker

    New Member
    English
    Yes, many people in England do pronounce these identically much of the time. There is often not an "L" there either, but a "W. fill = fih-ooh
    feel = feeh-ooh
    In rapid speech these are hard to distinguish anyway.
    In "I feel awful", the L of feel is before a vowel, and so less likely to become a W.
    It's the real deal: ri-oo di-oo.
    Very underrated observation. A lot of people (self included) speak a mix of RP and Estuary English and I got "pulled up" by an ESL student the other day for pronouncing the verb "feel" in the way indicated above. (This phenomenom can be described as L-vocalization: “bell” > “bew”). My response was that I felt glad that I was doing a good job in spontaneously providing him with diverse, real (as against "rew") language models and left it at that.

    Mind you, I also tend to say pants more than trousers these days. What is the world coming to? ;)

    Great forum, chaps!
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Where I live, pin and pen are merged even though pit and pet are not. We tend to say things like "straight pin", "ink pen", etc., instead of simply pin or pen because otherwise even we can misunderstand one another.
    Very interesting observation. I probably do similar things in my dialect -- I just don't notice.

    In this forum, students of English sometimes ask "can I omit this word?" You usually can, in writing. Sometimes that extra word (in speaking) helps prevent misunderstandings.
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    True, but it rarely causes any misunderstanding. English speakers (language speakers in general) use context, not just the sounds that they hear.
    :tick:

    Very true. Misunderstandings are rare. In the real world, there is nearly always context and - failing that - common sense.

    For example, I recently hear an American guest on a British chat show utter the sounds Hairy Padder during a discussion about popular film franchises. I'd never heard those four syllables combined in that way before, but I understood immediately. Context, common sense, and in this case, shared knowledge, all help us interpret what we hear. Our brains are remarkably flexible when it comes to making sense of what our ears tell us.
     

    JLP222

    New Member
    English - East Midlands, UK.
    Hey I wanted to ask about the American pronouciation of the long i: sound when it stands right before the letter L. In words such as feel, deal, real, meal etc. I pronounce them as if they were fill rill dill and mill and i have heard it many times that they were pronounced like that by the natives. And the question is: is it a mistake to do so ? I mean pronouncing it the way I do is much more comfortable.
    As a native English speaker (UK not USA) It seems the American sound you mention is the same as we use here. I have never heard anyone say dill, mill, fill when meaning deal, meal, feel. If you speak this way we would find it difficult to understand you as those words mean something different.
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    As a native English speaker (UK not USA) It seems the American sound you mention is the same as we use here. I have never heard anyone say dill, mill, fill when meaning deal, meal, feel.
    That's very surprising, JLP222. Where exactly do you live in UK? Here in the southeast of England, almost everyone you meet in the streets says those words as 'dill', 'mill' and 'fill'. Many even say 'diw', 'miw' and 'fiw' - classic sounds of Estuary English
    If you speak this way we would find it difficult to understand you as those words mean something different.
    Really? The tens of millions of people living in London and the southeast don't have much trouble making themselves understood.
     
    Last edited:

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    For both dill and deal, mill and meal, fill and feel?
    Yes. In Estuary English, the words in each pair are virtually indistinguishable.

    If you heard a London window-cleaner say "Fiw the bucket", you wouldn't know whether he was saying 'Fill the bucket' or 'Feel the bucket'.
     

    romanette

    Member
    English US
    People who use this pronunciation would not regard it as a mistake if you were to adopt it in their company - but I assume that you're not in the South of the USA. The question therefore becomes: "A mistake in whose opinion?" Who are you trying to satisfy? If the answer is "examiners", then I'm afraid you'll just have to learn how to produce the i: sound. If you were in the company of native speakers who were not from the South of the USA, the question would be whether you could cause confusion by pronouncing "feel" as "fill", "meal" as "mill", and so on - and the answer would be that you could.
    @Poland -- There are many highly localized accents in the US, particularly in the South (so that if you used this one feature, you would be expected to use all the local features), many are racialized (so as a Pole, people would consider it an affectation for you to be talking like Nicky Minaj). This long-e/short-i distinction is very noticeable to English speakers, failure to pronounce it correctly is considered foreign, particularly Central European. Just listen to all the villains in James Bond films.
     

    Elle Paris

    Senior Member
    American English
    Hey I wanted to ask about the American pronouciation of the long i: sound when it stands right before the letter L. In words such as feel, deal, real, meal etc. I pronounce them as if they were fill rill dill and mill and i have heard it many times that they were pronounced like that by the natives. And the question is: is it a mistake to do so ? I mean pronouncing it the way I do is much more comfortable.
    No, it's closed/tight, like ee-ee : need, kneel; meat = meet and meal. Maybe it's the "L" causing the difficulty. In fact it's "me" and then a little tiny "uh" just before the "L". Try : "Mee-uhl" "Fee uhl" Pronounce a VERY TINY "uh" just before the "L". I don't know how YOU are pronouncing fill rill dill and mill, but you could you be pronouncing them too "tight"/ not "open" enough?
     

    Elle Paris

    Senior Member
    American English
    Yes. In Estuary English, the words in each pair are virtually indistinguishable.

    If you heard a London window-cleaner say "Fiw the bucket", you wouldn't know whether he was saying 'Fill the bucket' or 'Feel the bucket'.
    They say "W" for "LL" and/or "F" for "TH" in South-East Boston too...and Elmer Fudd in "Bugs Bunny" cartoons and Barry Kripke in the TV series "The Big Bang Theory" but the window cleaner would not use the same vowel sound: He would say; "I fee-ouw good." for "I feel good." and "I'm gonna fi-ouw my bucket wiff water." for "I'm gonna fill my bucket with water."
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Try : "Mee-uhl" "Fee uhl" Pronounce a VERY TINY "uh" just before the "L".
    A slow, careful pronunciation of "feel" is "feeyuhl". But a slow, careful pronunciation of "fill" is "fill". There is no added "uh".

    Yesterday I watched a video made by UK pronunciation teacher Dr. Geoff Lindsey. He says that the normal IPA symbols for English vowels are misleading. In his preferred notation, becomes ɪj. So "feel" is /fɪjl/ (a diphthong), while "fill" is /fɪl/.
    Note that /j/ is IPA notation for the Y sound.

    No links here. The video is on Youtube, with the title "Why these English phonetic symbols are all WRONG".

    He does this for some other vowels too. The picture shows his notation on the left, standard IPA on the right.
    His notation (diphthong ending in -y/-w sound) explains:
    - which vowels add an /ə/ sound before L ("pre-L breaking")
    - which vowels use linking R
    - glide insertion (foreigners adding /j/ and /w/ sounds)
    - hiatus (which vowels can be followed by another vowel)
    - pre-fortis vowel clipping (duration shortening): 25% (normal vowels) vs. 45% (these 7 diphthongs)

    notation.png
     

    Elle Paris

    Senior Member
    American English
    A slow, careful pronunciation of "feel" is "feeyuhl". But a slow, careful pronunciation of "fill" is "fill". There is no added "uh".

    Yesterday I watched a video made by UK pronunciation teacher Dr. Geoff Lindsey. He says that the normal IPA symbols for English vowels are misleading. In his preferred notation, becomes ɪj. So "feel" is /fɪjl/ (a diphthong), while "fill" is /fɪl/.
    Note that /j/ is IPA notation for the Y sound.

    No links here. The video is on Youtube, with the title "Why these English phonetic symbols are all WRONG".

    He does this for some other vowels too. The picture shows his notation on the left, standard IPA on the right.
    His notation (diphthong ending in -y/-w sound) explains:
    - which vowels add an /ə/ sound before L ("pre-L breaking")
    - which vowels use linking R
    - glide insertion (foreigners adding /j/ and /w/ sounds)
    - hiatus (which vowels can be followed by another vowel)
    - pre-fortis vowel clipping (duration shortening): 25% (normal vowels) vs. 45% (these 7 diphthongs)

    View attachment 77123
    EXACTLY :) :cool:
     

    Elle Paris

    Senior Member
    American English
    A slow, careful pronunciation of "feel" is "feeyuhl". But a slow, careful pronunciation of "fill" is "fill". There is no added "uh".

    Yesterday I watched a video made by UK pronunciation teacher Dr. Geoff Lindsey. He says that the normal IPA symbols for English vowels are misleading. In his preferred notation, becomes ɪj. So "feel" is /fɪjl/ (a diphthong), while "fill" is /fɪl/.
    Note that /j/ is IPA notation for the Y sound.

    No links here. The video is on Youtube, with the title "Why these English phonetic symbols are all WRONG".

    He does this for some other vowels too. The picture shows his notation on the left, standard IPA on the right.
    His notation (diphthong ending in -y/-w sound) explains:
    - which vowels add an /ə/ sound before L ("pre-L breaking")
    - which vowels use linking R
    - glide insertion (foreigners adding /j/ and /w/ sounds)
    - hiatus (which vowels can be followed by another vowel)
    - pre-fortis vowel clipping (duration shortening): 25% (normal vowels) vs. 45% (these 7 diphthongs)

    View attachment 77123
    I try not to add the "Y" when I say feel. It almost happens but it's not good when exaggerated. James Brown did a good job not saying "I fee-yull good" diphthong-almost two syllables- but "I FEE(uh)L GOOD " -one syllable: VERY VERY slight diphthong. However in order to pronounce an "L", I have to disagree; there is always an almost imperceptible "uh" before an "L" as the tongue reaches the gums just above and behind the upper front teeth. If you try to say just the "L" by itself; it will always come out "uhLL".
     
    Last edited:

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    n his preferred notation, becomes ɪj. So "feel" is /fɪjl/ (a diphthong),
    That's a cogent observation. I was happily going along with /fi:l/, but /fijl/ is closer. However, I notice the stronger sound of the /j/ in the AE version and in Southern AE there is almost /fi:jəl/.
     

    Elle Paris

    Senior Member
    American English
    That's a cogent observation. I was happily going along with /fi:l/, but /fijl/ is closer. However, I notice the stronger sound of the /j/ in the AE version and in Southern AE there is almost /fi:jəl/.
    LOL I speak "CNN" English. But if you want to "talk Southern" you have to cut diphthongs and add them other places...Something lahk thiyus: Pliyuz close thayut dowah, iyutz wahd opeyun. :)
     
    Top