What dialect of English does your country prefer?

JamesM

Senior Member
British singers invariably pronounce "dance" as something near to "dence", American style, while no British regional pronunciation remotely approaches this.
"Dence" certainly isn't any American accent I know. :) I've always noticed this, too, but it doesn't sound American at all to me. It's uniquely a British singer thing.
 
  • merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    :thumbsup:

    Probably I like these accents because I like those bands.
    But, from a phonetic point of view, they seem more similar to Italian vowels.
    No difference between flat and broad "a" (with only an open central "a"), a schwa-like "but" vowel, generally one quality (with length difference) for "bot" and "bought" vowels, a mid "o" quality for the short "u" (very open, more easily differentiated with the long "u") and so on (a system which is very similar to that of the Canadian accent, which is rhotic). I'm speaking of the accents (not of the dialects).
    You mean pronouncing /bət/ for "but"? That seems odd.
    And only a length difference between "bot" and "bought"? Without the diphthong?
    An "o" instead of short "u"? What do you mean, "op" instead of "up"? :confused:

    Putting Canadian along Scottish, on the whole they sound pretty different for me? Not just because of vowel sounds but consonants too, like the rolled R , the glottal stop, the palatalized "s" in Scottish speech etc.

    JamesM said:
    "Dence" certainly isn't any American accent I know. I've always noticed this, too, but it doesn't sound American at all to me. It's uniquely a British singer thing.
    The Italians, Spanish etc. cannot hear the difference between "sat" and "set" and are always saying throughout the forum that they have merged in American English, and on the contrary the British pronounce them with Italian-like vowels. My ears have never picked up on either of them.
     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    You mean pronouncing /bət/ for "but"? That seems odd.
    An "o" instead of short "u"? What do you mean, "op" instead of "up"? :confused:
    The answer is: yes.
    See here
    In Birmingham the difference between "hudd" and "heard" is just length, and F1 is about 480 Hz in the North (compared to the 623 Hz of the Southwestrn British and 550Hz of the US). It is a shorter (and a little backed version) of the /ɜ/.
    In Lancashire and Liverpool the vowel of "hood" has F1 = 490 Hz (Italian /o/ is 420 Hz and the /ɔ/ is about 520 Hz). In other words the Scousie /ʊ/ is more similar to the Italian /ɔ/ than to the Italian /o/.
    I'm speaking in Italian terms and IPA terms. The vowel in "chord" has F1 = 600 Hz in Boston (is it your accent?) and it is even opener in those accents with the cot/caught merger.
    It's obvious that the Scousie /ʊ/ is higher than your /ɔ:/ (but it is similar to my /ɔ/, a little more central).
    The word is not "up" (which is pronounced more or less [ɜp] in Northern accents, I'm not speaking of Northern dialects, which lack the foot-strut split, but of the Standard English spoken with a Northern accent) but, for example "look" and "took".

    And only a length difference between "bot" and "bought"? Without the diphthong?
    Are you saying that the vowel of "bought" is a diphthong? where?

    The Italians, Spanish etc. cannot hear the difference between "sat" and "set" and are always saying throughout the forum that they have merged in American English, and on the contrary the British pronounce them with Italian-like vowels. My ears have never picked up on either of them.
    Excuse me, but what I hear is confirmed by phonologists. The flat "a" in Liverpool has F2 = 1393 Hz, in the US it has F2 > 1825 Hz. There is a huge difference between the pronunciation of The Wombats or Artic Monkeys and that of an American band (let's say , Queens of the Stone Age).
    We hear the difference between "sat" and "set".
    What we don't hear is the difference between "man" and "men" in American English (i.e flat "a" before nasals).
    This is due to the fact that F1 of short "a" before nasals in AmE is about 400 Hz (while before other consonants is more or less 600/700 Hz, depending on the accent).
    In other words, Northern English (like Wombats, Arctic Monkeys) say "understand" and "dance" while Americans say "understehnd" and "dehnce".
    It is a matter of facts and it was an Englishman who said it (Einstein), not an Italian or a Spanish speaker.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    The Italians, Spanish etc. cannot hear the difference between "sat" and "set" and are always saying throughout the forum that they have merged in American English, and on the contrary the British pronounce them with Italian-like vowels. My ears have never picked up on either of them.
    That's interesting. "Sat" and "set" are very distinct to me, but then I'm listening for what I'm expecting. "Sat" is much more open and broader.

    The song that came to mind when I read "Dence" for "dance" was David Bowie singing "Put on your red shoes and 'dehnce' with me" ("Let's Dance"). It's closer to an American "dance" than the British RP "dahnse" but the "a" is closed down a bit. The background singers sing "dance" with a very American accent and a flat, open "an" sound. George Michael in "Careless Whisper" also leans towards that same "dehnse" sound about half the time, although "chance" comes out consistently with an American flat "a".

    Another one is Rick Astley in "She Wants To Dance With Me". A lot of his vowels have the twang and broadness of soul music, but the word "dance" comes out "dense" on the hook, pretty much every time except when he drags it out as "she wants to da-ee-a-ee-a-ee-ance".
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    That's interesting. "Sat" and "set" are very distinct to me, but then I'm listening for what I'm expecting. "Sat" is much more open and broader.

    The song that came to mind when I read "Dence" for "dance" was David Bowie singing "Put on your red shoes and 'dehnce' with me" ("Let's Dance"). It's closer to an American "dance" than the British RP "dahnse" but the "a" is closed down a bit. The background singers sing "dance" with a very American accent and a flat, open "an" sound. George Michael in "Careless Whisper" also leans towards that same "dehnse" sound about half the time, although "chance" comes out consistently with an American flat "a".
    I agree. The sounds are distinct.
    I'll listen to those songs and see if I hear "dence" for "dance" but I don't think Americans of any accent would pronounce "an" as "en", although some people in Kentucky do say "en" as "in". Like "give me a ballpoint pin".
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I don't think Americans of any accent would pronounce "an" as "en",
    No, they wouldn't. That's why I thought it was odd that Einstein associated it with an American accent.

    The only place I've heard Americans say "dense" for "dance" is in movies from the 1930s when actors had a sort of pseudo-British way of speaking.

    Try the Rick Astley song. I think you'll hear it there, particularly because he pronounces it two different ways.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Try the Rick Astley song. I think you'll hear it there, particularly because he pronounces it two different ways.
    Yes, he says something close to "dense" then later on he also says "danes". He's got a kind of twangy sounding accent. In another song he say "if you do waunt..." And in yet another one he say... "Never gaunna make you crah, never gaunna say good bah"
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] if we speak about rock music (from Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones to Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and others), and Northern English accents are well positioned (all the above metioned bands except Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones are from the "North", i.e from Birmingham to Scotland).
    All the Midlanders I know (and I know a great many) would not class the Midlands (and therefore not Birmingham) as the North!:eek: Nor would geographers: that's why the region is called the Midlands. You may be tempted to dive into a spectrum analysis to show some similarities between Midlands accents and various Northern accents, but then you'd also find similarities between Midlands accents and some Southern accents.

    But even if you're talking of an area "from Birmingham to Scotland", that hardly includes Led Zeppelin. Plant (lead vocalist) was from Kidderminster, and Bonham was from Redditch: both in Worcestershire and both further south than Brum. Page was from Middlesex and JPJ from Kent (neither of which can in any way be described as "North"!). Led Zep was formed in London.

    As Stoggler mentioned (#94), the Wurzels and Chas & Dave have strong regional singing accents, but then they're deliberately playing up those accents (North Somerset and Cockney respectively), often for comic effect. If you want a good example of a British singer whose natural singing accent is unmistakably from the North, I can recommend Kate Rusby, whose singing voice is unmistakably and delightfully South Yorkshire (or West Riding as I used to know it).
    I've noticed for a long time that British pop or rock singers usually sing in American accents and wondered why. It's true there is a huge financial incentive to market to American audiences. Adele and Amy Winehouse come to mind just off the top of my head.
    I think it goes back to the fifties, when rock'n'roll became big in the US, and quickly made its way to the UK. The first rock'n'roll singers were all American (Carl Perkins, Bill Haley, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, etc, etc). In Britain, skiffle was already big, and skiffle groups were playing high-tempo versions of American folk, country and blues songs — with, of course, 'authentic' American accents. When British groups started playing rock'n'roll, they simply emulated the accents of the big American stars. Later, groups such as the Stones, the Animals, etc, played a big part in the blues and blues rock revival in the UK, using songs of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Leadbelly, and so on — so naturally with American accents. Howlin' Wolf with a Kentish or Geordie accent just wouldn't have worked!

    I doubt that any of those 50s and 60s UK groups had the US commercial market in mind: they'd developed their singing style long before they could even dream of international success. If the accent was adopted deliberately, I'd say it was in the interests of authenticity. But I suspect that it was essentially an automatic imitation; it's just the way that kind of music was sung. I'm sure a lot of singers didn't/don't consciously think of it as an American accent: it's just a 'rock vocals' accent.

    Although British pop/rock styles have diversified a lot since then, that accent still lingers on. The idea of Robert Plant singing with a Kidder accent, or Clapton with a Surrey accent, is almost laughable. Amy Winehouse's style was very jazz-influenced: another American genre. As for Adele, well, there I had to do a little reading; and I found that her early influences were Aaliyah, Destiny's Child and Mary J Blige, as well as the music of Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald: notice anything in common?;)

    Ws:)
     

    Einstein

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I'm afraid I don't have time to come back with a detailed explanation, but I just want to clarify that I don't think Americans actually pronounce "dance" as "dense", but to an unpractised Italian or German ear it can sound similar. The British pronunciation of "dance" varies from a simple "a" (as in many European languages) in the north and midlands to "aah" in the south-east (which had a big influence on RP), but never "æ". This sound occurs in other words, like "apple", but not in "dance".

    In Italy the idea exists that if you pronounce every "a", whether in "hat" or "hate", also schwa, as an "e", you know English! Adrian becomes Edrien, while Matt Damon becomes Mett Demon (rhyming with lemon). Alive becomes elive.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I doubt that any of those 50s and 60s UK groups had the US commercial market in mind: they'd developed their singing style long before they could even dream of international success. If the accent was adopted deliberately, I'd say it was in the interests of authenticity. But I suspect that it was essentially an automatic imitation; it's just the way that kind of music was sung. I'm sure a lot of singers didn't/don't consciously think of it as an American accent: it's just a 'rock vocals' accent.
    I can buy that. That reminds me of a trend in the US for country music singers to sing in a strong southern accent even if they do not originally come from that area. It might be that desire for authenticity. Country in strong Chicagoese would sound ridiculous.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In Italy the idea exists that if you pronounce every "a", whether in "hat" or "hate", also schwa, as an "e", you know English! Adrian becomes Edrien, while Matt Damon becomes Mett Demon (rhyming with lemon). Alive becomes elive.
    And many journalists say "jobs ect".
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I can buy that. That reminds me of a trend in the US for country music singers to sing in a strong southern accent even if they do not originally come from that area. It might be that desire for authenticity. Country in strong Chicagoese would sound ridiculous.
    Mark Knopfler is an interesting case. His accent seems to vary according to the context of the lyrics. In songs about Northumberland, where he was brought up, he has a Geordie-ish accent. In others, it varies from more-or-less neutral British to mid-Atlantic. When the context is American, it's more American (Money for Nothing, for example) ... and on his album with Emmylou Harris I hear tones I'd put somewhere around North Carolina.

    Ws:)
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Mark Knopfler is an interesting case. His accent seems to vary according to the context of the lyrics. In songs about Northumberland, where he was brought up, he has a Geordie-ish accent. In others, it varies from more-or-less neutral British to mid-Atlantic. When the context is American, it's more American (Money for Nothing, for example) ... and on his album with Emmylou Harris I hear tones I'd put somewhere around North Carolina.

    Ws:)
    You're right! He's definitely going for Alabama. "Tayme's running aout for me." At some point he had dropped off my radar. I had failed to realize he had metamorphosed into a country music star. However was I surprised. :)
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Mark Knopfler is an interesting case. His accent seems to vary according to the context of the lyrics. In songs about Northumberland, where he was brought up, he has a Geordie-ish accent. In others, it varies from more-or-less neutral British to mid-Atlantic. When the context is American, it's more American (Money for Nothing, for example) ... and on his album with Emmylou Harris I hear tones I'd put somewhere around North Carolina.

    Ws:)
    I was surprised when I learned that he was from the north-east of England. I had heard him in an interview years after hearing his songs and had assumed he was American. Hearing a north-east accent coming from someone you had previously thought was from the US was a bit surreal at first!
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    The difference between singing accents and speaking accents is interesting. Having mentioned that Mark Knopfler's singing accent varies, I've now listened to him speaking in a few interviews; and it seems that his speaking accent also varies.

    In several interviews with non-British interviewers (or co-interviewees), his accent is fairly neutral 'middle class' Brit; he even pronounces "last" with something close to an RP [ɑː], rather than the northern fronted [a]. However, in an interview with Parkinson (who's from Yorkshire), Knopfler's speech has more of a northern lilt, with a few distinctly Geordie bits.

    Ws:)
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    The Italians, Spanish etc. cannot hear the difference between "sat" and "set" and are always saying throughout the forum that they have merged in American English, and on the contrary the British pronounce them with Italian-like vowels. My ears have never picked up on either of them.
    For the precision, also Luciano Canepari says that Northern English /æ/ = canIPA [a], IPA [ä], i.e open central and Eastern Midlands /æ/ = canIPA [A], IPA [a], i.e open front-central (English Pronunciations, page 202, accent of York, page 190, accent of Birmingham), and it is well present (the central one) in the songs and bands I was speaking about.
    For example, in "Certain Romance" (Arctic Monkeys) there is an entire verse full of "Italian style" a's followed by "n":
    "Don't get me wrong though there's boys in bands And kids who like to scrap with pool cues in their hands And just 'cause he's had a couple of cans"
    compare just the Southern British and American pronunciation can (the AmE is [keən], like [heənd] and [beənd]).
    In the same song we find also "punch" [pʊnʧ] and "funny" [fɞni] (with a more or less mid-open back-central rounded vowel).
     
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    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Einstein;15144367...In Italy the idea exists that if you pronounce every "a" said:
    A whole lot of Germans seem to aggree - for reasons I have never been able to figure out.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In almost all foreign accents /æ/ is pronounced with an open "e" (and there are also native accents like Cockney, Australian, and so on).
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    A whole lot of Germans seem to aggree - for reasons I have never been able to figure out.
    I've had it explained to me, more than once, by German teachers of English, who perceive /æ/ as being pronounced much like [ɛ], and who insist that that's the 'normal' (or at least 'correct') BrE pronunciation of English words such as bad, hat and cat. They're surprised when I tell them that was true of some traditional RP speakers up until about the mid-twentieth century (a minority group even then, but much flaunted by the BBC and in academic circles), but that for more than half a century hardly any UK English speakers have used that pronunciation. Some modern UK dictionaries and language reference sources have even dropped /æ/, and now show standard pronunciations as /bad/, /hat/, /kat/, etc. But some non-native teachers of English (in Germany, and apparently in Italy, and probably elsewhere) are still teaching what they were taught by others, who taught what they were taught, ...

    Ws:)

     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Some modern UK dictionaries and language reference sources have even dropped /æ/, and now show standard pronunciations as /bad/, /hat/, /kat/, etc.
    It depends on the speaker.
    Both Labov and Canepari (which are very different phoneticians, they often disagree on methodology) agree on the fact that in "mediatic" (the so called General American) and broad American accents, /æ/ before nasals is [ɛə] (even [eə] in broad accents)

    If we're speaking about UK, it's true that in Northern accents there is [ä] (central) and in the Midlands, West Country and the Western Home Counties (Oxford, Northampton, Peterborough, Southampton) there is [a] (front-central), but still today, in Central Home counties (Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Ipswich, Luton, Guildford, Brigton, Dover) and London, /æ/ is [ɛ] because in these accents /ʌ/ is very low, i.e [ä] (or even [a] in Cockney).
    Some works, like those of Cheshire about "Multicultural London English" say that some younger speakers in London have more back positions for both /æ/ and /ʌ/ (respectively [a] and [ɑ]) but in "mediatic" pronunciation, i.e the so called "Estuary English", which is an accent which has some features of London (Cockney) and Central Home Counties accents, /æ/ is still [ɛ] because /ʌ/ is very low, i.e [ä] (open but not as fronted as in Cockney, i.e [a]).

    http://venus.unive.it/canipa/dokuwiki/lib/exe/fetch.php?id=en:pdf&cache=cache&media=en:eps_4_mediatic.pdf

    So, foreign teachers are not completely wrong, because "Estuary English" is one of the most spoken accents on BBC and other channels.
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] but still today, in Central Home counties (Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Ipswich, Luton, Guildford, Brigton, Dover) and London, /æ/ is [ɛ] because in these accents /ʌ/ is very low, i.e [ä] (or even [a] in Cockney).
    Some works, like those of Cheshire about "Multicultural London English" say that some younger speakers in London have more back positions for both /æ/ and /ʌ/ (respectively [a] and [ɑ]) but in "mediatic" pronunciation, i.e the so called "Estuary English", which is an accent which has some features of London (Cockney) and Central Home Counties accents, /æ/ is still [ɛ] [...]
    I don't know what basis such theorists use to draw such conclusions: perhaps spectrogram analysis of selected samples? My comments were based on the thousands of native speakers I've listened to over time, and still hear on a daily basis (directly, with my ears, not in recordings which can be somewhat artificial) — and yes, I spend time with people from Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Luton and Guildford, among others.

    Of course, without technical analysis each individual's perception of what constitutes [æ], [ɛ] and [a] is pretty subjective, So let me re-express my point in relative terms, without any absolute reference to particular phones (as defined technically) ...

    In the early/mid 20th century, 'traditional RP' speakers pronounced bad almost exactly as they pronounced bed; (listen to recordings of BBC presenters and reporters in the '50s). Those speakers were a minority even then, but their accent was adopted and propagated around the world as 'standard' British English. Nowadays it's hard to find anyone with that accent (apart from the Queen and a few elderly members of the 'upper classes'). 'Estuary English' speakers pronounce bad quite differently from bed, as do virtually all UK English speakers. Regardless of what the vowel in bad actually is (and it varies greatly), it's not the vowel of bed.

    Now, if you want to say that the vowel of bed is pronunced [ɛ], and if you want to say that the vowel of bad is /æ/, then it's not true that /æ/ is pronounced [ɛ] by any significant group of UK speakers.

    So if 'foreign' teachers are teaching that bad is pronounced the same way as bed in any variant of modern UK English, then I maintain that they are wrong.

    Ws:)
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    In the early/mid 20th century, 'traditional RP' speakers pronounced bad almost exactly as they pronounced bed; (listen to recordings of BBC presenters and reporters in the '50s). Those speakers were a minority even then, but their accent was adopted and propagated around the world as 'standard' British English. Nowadays it's hard to find anyone with that accent (apart from the Queen and a few elderly members of the 'upper classes').
    Really? Even in the upper classes?
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    I don't know what basis such theorists use to draw such conclusions: perhaps spectrogram analysis of selected samples?
    Analysis of many speakers and "normalized" values (as they say).

    Now, if you want to say that the vowel of bed is pronunced [ɛ], and if you want to say that the vowel of bad is /æ/, then it's not true that /æ/ is pronounced [ɛ] by any significant group of UK speakers.
    I didn't say that. :)

    In Traditional Cockney (people 40 years old and more and youger people who speak with this accent): bad [ɛ] bed [e̞ ̴ e] bud [a]
    Central Home Counties: bad [ɛ] bed [e̞] bud [ä]
    Australian and New Zealand: bad [ɛ] bed [e] bud [ä]
    Midlands, West Country, West Home Counties: bad [a] bed [e̞]/[ɛ] bud [ʌ]
    Northern English: bad [ä] bed [ɛ] bud [ʌ] ([ʊ], dialectal)
    North America: bad [æ] bed [e̞] bud [ʌ] but man, i.e /æn/ [ɛə]
    Northern Cities Shift: bad [ɛə] bed [e̞] bud [ʌ̙] (both /æ/ and /æn/ [ɛə])

    There are these values (according to most phoneticians), written in official IPA.

    There are no accents with the bad/bed merger. Nobody says that.
    On the other hand, the values of /æ/ and /e/ are different, depending on the accent.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] I didn't say that. :) [...]
    I know. That's why I said "if".:p
    [...] There are no accents with the bad/bed merger. Nobody says that. [...]
    Thanks, Nino, you've made my point. I was addressing Einstein's comment, reiterated by Sepia:
    [...] In Italy the idea exists that if you pronounce every "a", whether in "hat" or "hate", also schwa, as an "e", you know English! Adrian becomes Edrien, while Matt Damon becomes Mett Demon (rhyming with lemon). Alive becomes elive.
    It's not about absolute values of vowels, but about relative values. 'Traditional RP' did have a bad/bed merger; present-day English forms don't. If some non-native (Italian, German, ...) speakers practice a bad/bed merger, then the explanation that they're emulating an out-of-date 'traditional' RP (taught by their teachers who were taught by their teachers) seems quite likely.

    There is an argument that says they can't achieve any of the BrE realisations of /æ/, because their native languages don't have them, and so they naturally approximate to [ɛ]. I'm not convinced by that. On more than one occasion, Germans have told me that they say, for example, "He's not a bed chep" because they were taught that it was correct. After a few seconds of getting them to repeat "bad chap" (with an [a]), they're quite capable of doing it. I then tell them to go and listen to other BrE speakers, and they come back saying things like "You're right, it's a proper 'a'; I'd never noticed that before".
    I've also noticed that the phenomenon doesn't seem to occur with Germans I've met who've learned English by imitation, in a 'natural immersion' situation, rather than academically.
    Really? Even in the upper classes?
    Really, Pedro ... well, in my experience anyway. I know a number of families (some in Debrett's, even) where the grandparents have very plummy accents (and hev jem for tea), the parents much less so, and the younger generation sound entirely 'normal' (and eat jam ... refined jam, perhaps, but still jam).:D

    Ws:)
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Really, Pedro ... well, in my experience anyway. I know a number of families (some in Debrett's, even) where the grandparents have very plummy accents (and hev jem for tea), the parents much less so, and the younger generation sound entirely 'normal' (and eat jam ... refined jam, perhaps, but still jam).:D

    Ws:)
    This is how British Army officers used to speak. I suppose the officer here is either dead or one of those grandparents you were talking about!
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    It's not about absolute values of vowels, but about relative values. 'Traditional RP' did have a bad/bed merger; present-day English forms don't. If some non-native (Italian, German, ...) speakers practice a bad/bed merger, then the explanation that they're emulating an out-of-date 'traditional' RP (taught by their teachers who were taught by their teachers) seems quite likely.
    Yes, at school it is taught like that (there are other mergers, like bit/beat and hood/who'd).
    If teachers wanted to teach British English they should say that if you pronounce "bat" with an [ɛ] you should pronounce "bet" with an [e] (we have both sounds) or one could pronounce "bat" with an [a] (or an [æ], if it's possible) and "bet" with an [ɛ].

    What I don't understand is why some Americans keep saying they don't pronounce "dance", "hands" and "man" with an "e". It is really an "e". It is, often, even higher than an Italian/French/Portuguese/Catalan/Galician (and so on) open "e".

    The difference between Northern English [
    män] and North American [meən] is bigger than the difference between "ballo" (dance) and "bello" (beautiful) in Italian.

    http://it.forvo.com/word/bat/#en doesn't the word "bat" of the Australian speaker greengobbie92 sound like "bet"? and that of angryjohn, near Chicago?
    http://it.forvo.com/word/bet/#en in fact, greengobbie92 pronounces "bet" with a closed "e", [e]

    London (Cockney) and other accents of Home Counties have a similar vowel system (raised /æ/ and /e/).

    So I think teachers are not wrong when they say to pronounce "bat" [bɛt]. They are wrong when they don't teach that if one pronounces /æ/ higher, then he has to raise his /e/ as well.

    In Italy the idea exists that if you pronounce every "a", whether in "hat" or "hate", also schwa, as an "e", you know English!
    It is true for the "long o", /oʊ/, which is pronounced with a monophthong, like in "boat", "open" but it is not true for the "long a", /eɪ/, which it is pronounced [ɛj] (except for "break", "great" that, because of the spelling, are pronounced "grijt" and "brek"), like in "make up", "Dave".
     
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    sumelic

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Yes, at school it is taught like that (there are other mergers, like bit/beat and hood/who'd).
    If teachers wanted to teach British English they should say that if you pronounce "bat" with an [ɛ] you should pronounce "bet" with an [e] (we have both sounds) or one could pronounce "bat" with an [a] (or an [æ], if it's possible) and "bet" with an [ɛ].

    What I don't understand is why some Americans keep saying they don't pronounce "dance", "hands" and "man" with an "e". It is really an "e". It is, often, even higher than an Italian/French/Portuguese/Catalan/Galician (and so on) open "e".
    Well, I speak Californian English natively, and I have learned some French. The French sound [e] to me sounds similar to the starting point of my English /eɪ/.
    To me, the sound in "dance", "hands", "man", is the same as that of "mail" or "fair". But, I don't think this sound is simply [eə], because it doesn't seem primarily diphthongal to me, and the start point seems different in some way from that of /eɪ/. (In fact, I can produce a diphthong that starts with the "man" vowel and ends with [ɪ̯], and it sounds (barely) distinct from /eɪ/.)

    I also don't think my vowel in "bat" is /ɛ/ or even anywhere close to it. The pronunciation of /a/ in the French word "batte" sounds closer the vowel in English "bat" for me than the pronunciation of the word "bête".
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In fact these sounds are different (just as I wrote):
    /æ/ [æ]
    /æn/ [ɛə] (but in some American accents also [e̞ə] or even [eə])*
    /e/ [e̞], /eɪ/ [e̞ɪ]
    In Canada and California (due to the cot-caught merger with [ɑ] in a more back position) /æ/ is less fronted, [a], similar to the non-Cockney British /a/ (which is [a], a bit more fronted than Italian, Spanish, Portuguese /a/, [ä]).
    But in other accents (Cockney, some accents in the Home Counties, Australian, New Zealand), /æ/ [ɛ].

    * You are right, this transcription is a bit broad, because it is more like [ɛɛ̙], i.e this diphthong is very narrow.

    Some sample:
    http://it.forvo.com/word/ant/#en here, k8te has /æn/ [eə] or even [ɪə]
    but, in words without nasals:
    http://it.forvo.com/word/back/#en Californian /æ/ is quite similar to British /æ/, [a] (delibes, tristanJames) but Australian /æ/ is [ɛ] (greengobbie92)
     
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    mexerica feliz

    Senior Member
    português nordestino
    The American pronunciation of

    language

    /ˈlæŋgwɪʤ/ http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/language

    the sound sample can be heard here: http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/american_english/language?q=language

    it's definitely an [æ] and not an [e].

    ---
    As for modern Southern British English:


    flash /flaʃ/ (not /flɛʃ/ or /fleʃ/) http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/flash
    flesh /flɛʃ/ (not /fleʃ/
    flush /flʌʃ/ pronounced as [flɐʃ] and not as [flaʃ]

    Do not pronounce flush as flash, and flash as flesh! :)

    It is funny, in Italian they pronounce cover (of a song) with an [o],
    and club with an [e].
    :)
     
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    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hi, mexerica.

    Labov calls it pattern IV.
    Some accents, like 1800-1950 London (Traditional Cockney) and Home Counties accents, Australian and New Zealand English, had this shift and Southern accents in the US have a very similar pattern.

    In Southeast England, Australia and New Zealand, the diphthong /aɪ/ > [ɒɪ], then there is an empty space, so /eɪ/ > [ɐɪ] or [aɪ], /ɪi/ > [ɘi], i.e the first vowel of these diphthongs goes down and it is more central, so there are empty spaces in the front zone, and there is the raising of /æ/ > [ɛ], /e/> [e]. Then /ʌ/ > [ä] (Australian, Home Counties) or [a] (Cockney).
    This system is still found today in Australia and New Zealand, while in London and in the Home Counties there was a partial reversal, from Cockney lowered diphthongs and raised short front vowels to a more traditional (Northern, West Country, Midlands) English pattern, /æ/ > [ɛ] > [a], /e/> [e] > [e̞] or even [ɛ].
    http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/1081/1/TorgersenKerswill8pdf.pdf

    There is a similar pattern today, in Southern accents in the US. /aɪ/ > [aː], /eɪ/ > [aɪ], /ɪi/ > [ɘi] and /æ/ > [ɛ], /e/> [e̞] > [e] (these short vowels in these accents become a bit longer, i.e they develop inglides).

    So, today, in Northern English, Midlands, West Country and younger speaker in London we have /æ/ = [a] (England, in general) or [ä] (Northern English only).
    In Australia, New Zealand, some older speakers in London, in most Southern accents in the US, /æ/ = [ɛ].

    In southern England and Australia, the short vowels shift to relatively higher and fronter positions without developing inglides. In New Zealand, /i/ moves back to high central position, forming a chain shift with /e/ as it rises to high front peripheral position
    (Labov, Atlas of North American English, page 125)

    The triggering event is a change in the front upgliding diphthong /ay/. In most of the languages and dialects affected by this process, the nucleus of /ay/ moves back and upward along the peripheral path as route 1 in Figure 18.3. This is the path followed in most southern British dialects, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa (Labov, Yaeger, and Steiner 1972, Trudgill 2004).
    (Labov, page 244)

    On this point both Labov, Trudgill and Canepari agree and Southern /æ/ sounds to me like an [ɛ] (and it is confirmed by some American member of this forum who took my /ɛ/ for an /æ/).

    http://it.forvo.com/word/cat/#en
    greengobbie92 (Australia) [ɛ], NipponJapan (Southern US) [ɛ] , jackabrams (Southern US) [ɛɐ], almost all other speakers in the US [æ] (or [a] like anakat and mattpsy California), in the UK there is [ä] or [a].

    About "language", the /æ/ tensing regards /m, n/ while in almost all accents in the US, /æ/ before /ng/ is not raised (except in Eastern New England).

    Do not pronounce flush as flash, and flash as flesh! :)
    I pronounce "flush" [ʌ] (mid-back mid-open), "flash" [a] (mid-front, open) and "flesh" [ɛ] or [e̞], pronounce every "r" and have the cot-caught merger. :p (my reference is a Canadian-Californian accent, i.e one of those with few vowels).

    It is funny, in Italian they pronounce cover (of a song) with an [o],and club with an [e].:)
    But "club" with [ɛ] is a loanword (like your [klubi]). :)

    Anyway, if Italian professors were to make some little adjustment (introducing the difference between bat [ɛ] and bet [e], bot [ɔ] and bought [o], and teaching the Australian-type diphthongs) they would teach the Australian accent (we just say but [ä] and bit ). They could do so or start teaching English or American pronunciation or keep teaching "Italian English" :)
     
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    sumelic

    Senior Member
    English - California
    The information about these two types of vowel systems in English is very interesting! I did realize how many different vowels were involved in it.
    About "language", the /æ/ tensing regards /m, n/ while in almost all accents in the US, /æ/ before /ng/ is not raised (except in Eastern New England).
    Hmm... I had forgotten about this pattern, and actually I don't think I've ever been in an area with one of these accents. Is it only for /ŋg/, or all /ŋ/ ? I guess there aren't so many words with /æŋg/... but they are still fairly common, like anger, language, tangle, jangle. Personally, I'm from California but I have tense /æ/ in all places before a nasal, and lax /æ/ in all other places. I had heard that some speakers have a different type of tense /æ/ before /ŋ/ than the one they have before /m, n/: the pre-/ŋ/ variant is supposed to be a closing diphthong, like [æɪ] or even [eɪ] (I think it can technically "merge" with the /eɪ/ phoneme because there is no preexisting /eɪ/ before /ŋ/, just like some speakers have phonological /i/ before /ŋ/ in place of /ɪ/.)

    When I first came to Minnesota, the main difference I noticed with a-tensing was that besides occurring before /ŋ/, it occurs before /g/ as well as for some speakers, like in the words "rag" and "bag".

    So I think a-tensing before /ŋ/ is fairly common. I looked at this Wikipedia article, and it has a chart where it only shows tensing before /m/,/n/, but a footnote where it simply states that before /ŋ/ it is "between [æŋ] and [eɪŋ]" for "nearly all American English speakers". (That's actually not very informative :confused:, but I think it's trying to say that it is somewhat tensed, but not all the way to /eɪ/ for most speakers.)
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    When I first came to Minnesota, the main difference I noticed with a-tensing was that besides occurring before /ŋ/, it occurs before /g/ as well as for some speakers, like in the words "rag" and "bag".
    Yes, /æ/ is raised, progressively, before /b, g, d/ but in Canada the order is /b, d, g/ (/æg/ is higher than /æd/).
    In Minnesota it is a diphthong.

    So I think a-tensing before /ŋ/ is fairly common. I looked at this Wikipedia article, and it has a chart where it only shows tensing before /m/,/n/, but a footnote where it simply states that before /ŋ/ it is "between [æŋ] and [eɪŋ]" for "nearly all American English speakers". (That's actually not very informative :confused:, but I think it's trying to say that it is somewhat tensed, but not all the way to /eɪ/ for most speakers.)
    http://forum.wordreference.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=15042&d=1422029580

    As you can see from that chart (from Labov, 2006) in almost all North American accents , /æ/ before /ng/ is lower than before /n, m/.
    The only two accents where they are similar are Eastern New England and California (but they are different in quality, because in Eastern New England /æ/ before /n, m, ng/ is [eə], higher than Californian [ɛə]).
    In all these accents /æ/ is a little rised before /b, g, d/ but it is lower than before /n, m/, i.e it is still an [æ] (only in Canada /æg/ can be even higher than /æn/, because in Canada /æ/ tensing before nasals is smaller).
     
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    sumelic

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Thanks for the link! I didn't realize the pattern of raising was so gradient... It's a good reminder of how much IPA representations of a vowel are a simplification of the phonetic picture.
    To me, it looks like we can divide NA dialects into 3 categories according to this chart with regard to raising before /ŋ/:

    1. /æ/ before /ŋ/ less tense than in /æn/, /æm/ and before at least one voiced oral consonant
    -South
    -Inland North
    -Mid-Atlantic
    -NYC

    2./æ/ before /ŋ/ is less tense than in /æn/, /æm/, but more tense than /æ/ before any oral consonant

    -W. Pa
    -Midland

    -Canada (if we ignore the outlier /æg/)

    3./æ/ before /ŋ/ more tense than in /æn/, /æm/
    -Eastern New England
    -West

    Is it known what the phonetic trigger for this raising is? With regard to MOA effects, it looks like the raising often occurs in positions where allophonic vowel lengthening is also favored. For the POA effects, I guess coronals tend to be associated with higher vowels.
     

    Nino83

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Is it known what the phonetic trigger for this raising is? With regard to MOA effects, it looks like the raising often occurs in positions where allophonic vowel lengthening is also favored. For the POA effects, I guess coronals tend to be associated with higher vowels.
    Yes. Voiced consonants and, among them, coronals.
    Labov divides North American dialects in:
    - nasal system: Eastern New England, where /æn/ are much more high than /æ/ before voiced consonants
    - progressive systems: /æ/ is raised progressively, Canada and California have lower /æ/ and lower raising, Midland accents (except Cincinnati) have the same system
    - split system: New York city and Mid-Atlantic, /æ/ is raised before nasals, voiced stops and other consonants only in closed syllables
    - static systems, like Northern Cities and Southern accents, where the /æ/ is just raised, even before /p, t, k/ ([e̞ə] in Northern Cities, [ɛɛ] in Southern accents)
     
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    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    Yes. Voiced consonants and, among them, coronals.
    Labov divides North American dialects in:
    - nasal system: Eastern New England, where /æn/ are much more high than /æ/ before voiced consonants
    - progressive systems: /æ/ is raised progressively, Canada and California have lower /æ/ and lower raising, Midland accents (except Cincinnati) have the same system
    - split system: New York city and Mid-Atlantic, /æ/ is raised before nasals, voiced stops and other consonants only in closed syllables
    - static systems, like Northern Cities and Southern accents, where the /æ/ is just raised, even before /p, t, k/ ([e̞ə] in Northern Cities, [ɛɛ] in Southern accents)
    Where would you put New Jersey in that system?
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Where would you put New Jersey in that system?
    Jersey is a Mid-Atlantic accent. This is not at all the same as New York contrary to popular belief.


    Nino 83 said:
    Are you saying that the vowel of "bought" is a diphthong? where?
    Merquiades said:
    And only a length difference between "bot" and "bought"? Without the diphthong?
    At least in Mid-Atlantic it is.
     
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    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    I've noticed for a long time that British pop or rock singers usually sing in American accents and wondered why. It's true there is a huge financial incentive to market to American audiences. Adele and Amy Winehouse come to mind just off the top of my head.

    By the way, whatever accent Mika is trying to do, he sounds just awful. I can't stand hearing him.

    Lily Allen's Cockney brogue sounds pretty shocking also. :)
    Really? For a long time I didn't even know they were British.
    I have yet found another British singer of a different type of music that imitâtes an American accent in her singing. I'm still trying to figure out why.

    Who would think PJ Harvey was from Dorset?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Her speaking voice is certainly not American, but I don't find her singing to be remotely Briish sounding
    No, as Pedro said, it is Mid-Atlantic, i.e. aiming for a pronunciation that neither British not American speakers you strike as "foreign" sounding.
     

    Messquito

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    In Taiwan, we are taught American English and an English teacher from the UK may face some problem while teaching ("Teacher, Z is pronounced zee, not zed, you are wrong!"). :p
    My Malaysian friend told me they are taught British English at school (probably because they were once colonized by the GB).
     

    Doraemon-

    Senior Member
    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    In Spain it is usual and traditional to learn British English, but (US) American English is gaining ground thanks to films and tv shows.
    Other dialects such as Australian or Caribbean English are completely unknown.
     

    Tinska

    Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    Here in Argentina all schools teach British English.
    Since I was 4 years old, it stayed in my mind to use British spelling. .
    When I saw Dora the Explorer, (here in dubbing, she teaches English) I found it shocking that many Americanisms are used and I was confused with what I was learning in class.
    Last time my teacher was shocked to write "cookie" on my primary school test, instead of the beloved "biscuit".
    Then with American or Canadian cartoons dubbed into Spanish I saw the American spelling "Color" instead of our "Colour", which I doubted in tests on its writing. I was never taught American English. Everything in my kindergarden and school were British English.
     

    Ansku89

    Member
    Finnish
    I don't know about the current situation so this is 10-20 years old information. At that time Finnish school system preferred British English. In school books it started with British English, there were British flags and adventures in London. At least 3rd and 4th grade books (foreign language began in 3rd grade then, at age 8-9) were 100% British English and after that some American English was also introduced, but more as a curiosity. At later stages the situation got more even and in high school we listened to many different accents. My high school teacher had lived in the US and she said it's OK to write either British or American English in exams as long as you're consistent with it.

    Outside schools there is one thing that shows some kind of preference for British English. It's relatively common to use flags as symbols for languages, and the flag used as symbol for English language is usually the Great Britain flag, not US flag.
     
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