Stressed and unstressed pronunciation of the same phonetic symbol

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Slawi

New Member
polski
Hello everybody!

Is there slight difference in pronunciation of the same phonetic symbol(s) when it's stressed and unstressed? Here comes the example:

English /ˈɪŋɡlɪʃ/

As you can see both "E" and "i" are the same sound but the "E" is stressed. When I listen to the pronunciation on various websites (for example here), they don't sound the same to me. The "E" sounds slightly softer, I would say (something between i and y), while the "i" sounds harder. I know a stressed syllable is pronunced longer but in that case it's not about the length. Are there any rules is Standard British and American Pronuncation? If so, could you provide me with a link etc.? For me those two sounds aren't equal, I hope I'm not deaf :cool:.

Thanks in advance
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    In this case it's not the stress that does it, but the neighbouring sounds. A phoneme such as /ɪ/ might be slightly affected, but noticeably to a careful ear. Sip, sit, sick might be slightly different; sin and sill and sing might be even more so. In particular, /l/ lowers a sound a bit, and /ŋ/ raises /ɪ/ a bit, so sill and sing are the most likely to sound different from the others.

    One feature of the South African accent is that a preceding /k/ affects it a lot: kit is definitely different from sit. But in most varieties of English, it's the following sound that has the main effect.
     

    Delvo

    Senior Member
    American English
    That transcription of the word "English" isn't right. Those are two different phonemes, regardless of whether either of them ends up in an emphasized syllable or not.

    The small capital "I" for the second one is OK. It's a very common, standard sound for the letter {I,i}, found in "sit", "fill", "dim", "did", "rip", and "lick".

    But that sound would never be represented by a letter {E,e} in English (or any other language I know of). The first vowel in the word "English" using IPA should be a lowercase "i", which represents a different sound that's primarily associated with the letter {I,i} in most other European languages but with {E,e} in English, and is used in "seat", "feel", "deem", "deed", "reap", and "leak" & "leek".
     

    Slawi

    New Member
    polski
    That transcription of the word "English" isn't right. Those are two different phonemes, regardless of whether either of them ends up in an emphasized syllable or not.

    The small capital "I" for the second one is OK. It's a very common, standard sound for the letter {I,i}, found in "sit", "fill", "dim", "did", "rip", and "lick".

    But that sound would never be represented by a letter {E,e} in English (or any other language I know of). The first vowel in the word "English" using IPA should be a lowercase "i", which represents a different sound that's primarily associated with the letter {I,i} in most other European languages but with {E,e} in English, and is used in "seat", "feel", "deem", "deed", "reap", and "leak" & "leek".
    I checked several dictionaries and websites and both phonemes are represented by the same symbol. Still, is there any rule or something in Standard British English or Standard American English? I've never come across anything like that but I'm curious. Somebody who graduated English Studies (Philology) should spill the beans. Maybe there's no rule?
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I don't know what you mean by a rule. A rule for what?

    The transcription is correct for all standard accents of English, but as you see, Delvo feels the first sound should be /i/, not /ɪ/. This reflects the slight difference in sound I mentioned: the /ɪ/ in /ɪŋ/ is slightly higher (in the mouth, and further forward) than other instances of /ɪ/, making it closer to /i/.

    But on other grounds, we wouldn't want to say it's /iŋ/. The group /iŋ/ (in standard phonetic notation) never occurs in English, nor do any other long vowels or diphthongs occur before /ŋ/. There are no words */si:ŋ/, */sɑ:ŋ/, */saɪŋ/, */saʊŋ/, etc. It only occurs before short vowels, so /ɪŋ/ fits better even if phonetically it's close to [iŋ].
     

    cando

    Senior Member
    English - British
    There are no rules in English! Especially with regard to spelling and pronunciation, there are only patterns, usages, conventions and instincts formed through a complex and ever changing history. Spoken English is characterized by stress patterns that give shape to words, phrases and sentences, which can have subtle effects on vowel values in particular. We lack a system of accents and use many more vowel sounds than the writing system can represent. Most native speakers are probably unconscious of these more subtle shifts and variations in phoneme values that arise from their place in a syllable or word sequence. We just think of it as the same vowel but naturally adapt it to a sonic context on instinct along the lines entanglebank has outlined.
     
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