say yes

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wolfbm1

Senior Member
Polish
Hello.
I wonder whether the words "say" and "yes" have two different phonemes represented by the letter 'y'. In phonetic transcription of those words there are two different symbols: BrE /seɪ/ and /jes/. Source: oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com

Do they represent two different phonemes? For me they sound the same.

Thank you.
 
  • tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    The short /ɪ/ in the diphthong /eɪ/ is produced at the front of the mouth, whereas the /j/ in 'yes is produced closer to the centre of the mouth and the tongue is closer to the roof of the mouth than it is with /ɪ/. if we were to read out the transcription /ɪes/, it would be recognisably different from /jes/, though there would be a slight /j/ glide between the /ɪ/ and the /e/. They are different phonemes.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I'm not clear as to whether they constitute different phonemes or merely two allophones, but they are definitely different sounds.
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    I'm not clear as to whether they constitute different phonemes or merely two allophones, but they are definitely different sounds.
    They are distinct sounds to phoneticians, /ɪ/ is a close front vowel and /j/ a palatal approximant. /j/ is sometimes referred to as s semi-vowl.
     
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