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English Pronunciation

From:Joseph Fatula <fatula3@...>
Date:Thursday, June 10, 2004, 14:19
Responding to Joe, and a heads up to Philippe:

From: "Joe" <joe@...>
Subject: Re: My conlang Nemalo

(someone else said)
> >I just assumed the 'official' sound, not the sound of some dialect. > > The problem with English is that, well, there is no 'official' > pronunciation, unlike French, or something. North American, English, > Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Australian, and New Zealandic dialects are all > quite different, and they all define the 'standard' language differently > (GA, RP, SSE, and various others)
A few weeks/months ago, one of our Frankspraaker brought up a question of which English dialect was considered authoritative. I'm fairly certain that was Philippe. Anyway, a very good explanation was given in response, that the people in Houston, Boston, and London don't speak like each other, and have no desire to speak like each other. Let me make something clear: Most English-speakers don't want to speak like any other group of English-speakers. We don't have just some three top dialects, but rather a whole horde of them, where most people want to speak the way they already speak, and consider their own dialect authoritative. (This may be one of the reasons why YAEPTs keep popping up.) Things like GA (General American) are simply constructs, where it's sort of an average of American dialects, not one that anyone actually speaks. And I'd never heard of it before I got into linguistics. But if there are scores of top dialects, what prevents English from breaking up into scores of little independent languages? Simply this - that if I say something and my listener doesn't understand, I won't say it that way anymore. It's for this reason that I hardly use the word "turnpike" anymore. For whatever reason, Californians don't understand it. (And it might help to know that I moved to California some years ago.) But when I pronounce "root" with a vowel like o-umlaut in German (sorry, can't remember the SAMPA), no one has a problem understanding it. Therefore, the conditioning factor for my removing it from my speech is absent. Anyone else get this impression about English? My views are mostly formed from American dialects in this case, so I might be wildly off about English in other countries. My understanding of British ones is similar, except that RP is a well-known thing with more influence. Joe Fatula


Stephen Mulraney <ataltanie@...>
Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>