pronunciation: p pronounced as b in "speech" and "stupid"

SuperXW

Senior Member
Hi!
I wonder is that NATURAL OR NOT to sometimes make a "p" inside a word sounding like a "b".
I already know it should sound like a "b" behind an "s", such as "speech". BUT...
How about the word "stupid"? Do you think I can pronounce it like "sdubit"?
Is it common in AE/BE, or just some foreign accent, or just wrong?
Thanks!
 
  • Crockett

    Senior Member
    US English
    SuperXW, that does not seem natural to me. I think if spoken very quickly, 'speech' could probably be spoken with a 'b' instead of a 'p' and nobody would know the difference. However, the whole idea of replacing a 'p' with a 'b' is very abhorrent to me. I would recommend you do NOT do that.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If I were to put a "b" in "speech", it would affect the preceding "s", which would change to a "z": "Zbeech". I don't pronounce it like that.

    I don't say "sdubit" either. I don't even say "stupit" because I don't de-voice word-final "d". I've noticed that my dentist, who is from Hong Kong, does de-voice word-final "d".
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Super, when you say 'b', do you really mean /b/ as in the voiced consonant, or are you thinking of 'b' as in pinyin (Mandarin romanisation)? In the case of the latter 'b' is really an unaspirated /p/ ('p' without the puff of air after it). In English, 'p' can be aspirated or unaspirated, but I don't think English speakers would generally pronounce 'p' as /b/.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You do sometimes see spelling mistakes by AmE speakers where they use <b> or <g> in the middle of a word for /p/ or /k/, which suggests to me that a few people may have generalized the voicing of /t/ to those other two stops, but it's not common even if it does occur, and I've never heard it.
     

    SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Super, when you say 'b', do you really mean /b/ as in the voiced consonant, or are you thinking of 'b' as in pinyin (Mandarin romanisation)? In the case of the latter 'b' is really an unaspirated /p/ ('p' without the puff of air after it). In English, 'p' can be aspirated or unaspirated, but I don't think English speakers would generally pronounce 'p' as /b/.
    Thanks for all your replies! Although I didn't know every linguistical terms nor could demonstrate with my voice, it seems natkretep understand thoroughly my doubt. :)
    Just like you said, to me, an unaspirated /p/ = /b/, when both followed by a vowel. I also considered /b/ in the voiced consonant = /b/ in Pinyin (if you know Pinyin).
    Did you mean they were actually different?

    Just for other friends to know, we were told to make a "b" sound in "speech" because to a Mandarin speaker, /p/ will ALWAYS be "aspirated", and we often aspirate too hard, sounds like "pppppeeee"... The same thing happens to other consonants /t/ /s/ /k/...
    Are there "unaspirated p,t,s,k..."? Chinese usually believe the unaspirated ones are equal to "b, d, z, g", especially when followed by a vowel...
    (@sound shift: I'm a Mandarin speaker. We don't de-voice consonants like Hong Kong people do. To the contrast, we often make it too stressful, pronouncing "...d" like "...da", "...t" like "...ta".)
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The English sounds after /s/, as in speech, star, school, are almost exactly the Mandarin sounds written <b d g> in pinyin. The sound of /p/ after the stress, as in stupid, is less strongly aspirated than when before it (pin), but is still closer to the pinyin <p>.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The English sounds after /s/, as in speech, star, school, are almost exactly the Mandarin sounds written <b d g> in pinyin. The sound of /p/ after the stress, as in stupid, is less strongly aspirated than when before it (pin), but is still closer to the pinyin <p>.
    Yeah, less strongly aspirated but almost to the point of being eliminated, and it actually is in many speakers.
    Having 's' preceding a stressed voiceless plosive gives you around ~5/10ms of VOT while in "pin" it can range from about ~30/50ms.
    This is well enough to mentally register a voiced sound with neutralisation of the VOT in English (which makes its distinction in lenis sounds by plosives only being partially voiced) and if you take a recording of "spit" and use an acoustic program to remove the 'S' sound, you'll find a near unanimous vote when presenting it to a new set of people that the word is actually [bit] and not [pit]. With that in mind (now referring back to generally over the whole thread) with the example of 'stupid', it does happen yes (but I just re-read the first post and saw you already knew that).

    Now, although intervocalic voicing does occur, in agreement with the others, in 'stubid', I can imagine it in soft manner, almost even as if someone has got a cold and a blocked nose that leads them to make a similar pronunciation. But overall it's not natural for me.
     
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    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Yes, I suppose that's right, the VOT wouldn't be the important thing medially. Roping and robing would be distinguished basically by the preceding vowel length. And a strongly aspirated Chinese <p> in that position might sound worse than <b>.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Is it common in AE/BE, or just some foreign accent, or just wrong?
    Thanks!
    I have heard "sdubit" in some foreign accents and in some dialects/accents of English in native speakers. I strongly suggest that you do not try and imitate it.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I think others have covered the main points. But overall, I would still say that pinyin 'b' is just unaspirated 'p', as in speech or spit. English 'b' is different from pinyin 'b', and if pinyin 'b' was used in beach or bit, it would come across as a Chinese-accented pronunciation.
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Yeah, there is a range of plosive voicing types distinguished cross-linguistically about where VOT occurs, the best example I could find was this.
    As you can see with English and Chinese there is a distinction on where the pairs lie. Chinese is labelled at the top with strong aspiration. English's voiced plosives are only really voiced on release, just as the lips open to make the plosive. It's nothing compared to the type of fully voiced plosives you get in Indian languages. The same with the aspiration.

    As natkretep has said, Pinyin 'b' would just be unaspirated 'p', but it's also true to extend that to a slightly aspirated 'p', which, though still having aspiration can still be on the 'voiced' side of the comparison. It's like Korean, and that's labelled on the diagram I linked to. You can see it says 'slightly aspirated' but still indicates it as /b/ in Korean, when we've got /p/ in English. Once you see a range of five types of ways to voice plosives and you realise that English uses two mainly (and a third one comes across in neutralised VOT with 's' preceding it, as we've been talking about) and an Asian language can pick a different selection of ways it wants to distinguish the plosives, only then can we get a full understanding of what's natural for people to do depending on their mother tongue.

    Thai picks three, and all have a phonemic value, so aspirated, unaspirated and voiced are all three types of VOT to separate words such as 'crazy', 'aunt' and 'cloth'.
    Anyway, bringing this back to English, using something like a where a [p] is expected naturally leads you to think of it as a bit odd, though the surrounding words are enough to anchor in what the intended word meaning was. If you found an environment in which it didn't matter as much, you could exchange them freely and it'd all be fine.
     
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    Phoenixlighter

    Member
    German, Serbian, Romanian
    "Stubid" would be more like American English. The American tend to speak quickly and eat - or let's say reform - some letters. Just like the t and the d. The British tend to say Natalie or Butterfly, whilce the American tend to use a quick d instead of the t. Nadalie; Budderfly. I think it's a similar thing with "stupid". I never say "sbeech" though .. it's speech to me. ^^
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I do, definitely: as a child I always wondered why it was spelt with a "p" rather than a "b"....;).
    Exactly, and there's a perfectly normal reason for that.
    The people who have such close associations to spelling often can't look at it as if it was a sound, but once you know and realise this, saying "sbeech" and "speech" is normally exactly the same pronunciation. I think people often like to produce an unnatural /b/ in that position to make sense of their idea that it "must be different". Either that or they really unnaturally aspirate the plosive once they're thinking about it.

    I mean, say to yourself (naturally) "It's been a really great experience" and imagine you've forgotten the rules of English, and imagine someone telling you there is a "b" after the "s" in "experience". It's clearly there. It's like people saying "I say see and not sea", they might believe there is a difference because of the spelling (especially if they're non-natives) but in fact they're talking about the same thing. It could be that their language has different sorts of methods of producing plosives and THAT leads to a clear distinction, but it's not one made by natives, or if it is, those natives have managed to avoid linguistic and phonetic researchers for many a generation.
     

    nguyen dung

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Is it correct that to make voice for b we must make the glottis narrow immediately after ''release phase'' of pronouncing b?
     

    Wai Ho

    New Member
    Cantonese
    Hello everybody. Many Chinese people pronounce the word "buy" as the French word "paille" (unaspirated p). I understand why many Chinese people said that "speech" is pronounced "sbeech", because the "p" is not strong. To the word "stupid", in American English, the "t" and the "p" aren't strong, so it sounds a bit like "sdubid", but the last "d" is never pronounced as "t". When I explain to pronounce correctly the word "bee" to a Mandarin or Cantonese speaker, I tell him that it sounds like "mmbee", because when English-speaker pronounced the "b" sound, it sounds like they begin with a weak "mm".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Ventriloquists exchange other letter sounds for the plosive letters that require the lips, and substitute sounds that use the tongue.

    The letter "be" is one of those letters that is exchanged. The ventriloquist does this on purpose; in others this might be considered a slight speech impediment. They can sound very similar. It is best to try to pronounce the words properly however.

    Learn How To Be a Ventriloquist

    Ventriloquism (say ven-TRIL-o-kwism) is the art of talking with the tongue and not moving the mouth or face.

    B = D

    Instead of saying “The Bad Boy Buys a Basket” the ventriloquist says, “The Dad Doy Duys a Dasket.” Try this in the mirror. At first, this substitution won’t sound right; but with practice, D can be made to sound like B.


    P = T

    “Peter is a Practice Pilot” becomes “Teter is a Tractice Tilot.” Try holding the T a little longer, then release with a little puff of air behind it.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Just like you said, to me, an unaspirated /p/ = /b/, when both followed by a vowel.
    I also considered /b/ in the voiced consonant = /b/ in Pinyin (if you know Pinyin).
    Did you mean they were actually different?
    Yes. I'm studying Mandarin and learned about this. What pinyin calls B and what English calls B are different.

    In English, the difference in the 3 pairs B/P, D/T and K/G is voicing, not aspiration.
    Voiced consonants are never aspirated.
    Unvoiced P/T/K can be either aspirated or un-aspirated, depending on where they are in the word.
    It may be that the un-aspirated situations don't happen in Mandarin, where P/T/K are all initials.

    English is different: a P/T/K has 3 positions (and 3 different sounds): start, middle and ending.
    Only the "start" position is aspirated.
     

    hihao

    New Member
    Chinese
    Good to learn!!!
    For Chinese speakers, because they learned Pin-yin first. In Pin-yin, [g][d] are voiceless -- for example, Gege, "Brother" in Chinese.
    School -- fo Chinese speakers, the [k] sounds like a voiceless [g]. It is the reason. However, for English-speakers, they won't think it sounds like [g] because without a vibration.
     
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