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USAGE: Voiced/voiceless stops in English, was: Re: Pronouncing Tokana...

From:Vasiliy Chernov <bc_@...>
Date:Tuesday, February 1, 2000, 15:01
Really interesting!

How does all this interact with syllabification?

E. g., what happens in examples like:

a tall man
at all
a dawn
had altered

- in Americal English? Does British English differ?


On Fri, 28 Jan 2000 11:42:59 -0600, Matt Pearson
<jmpearson@...> wrote:

>>At 09:35 28/01/00 -0600, you wrote: >>> >>>English may distinguish voiced from voiceless stops, but I think that >>>(in word-initial position, anyway) the primary phonetic cue for the >>>contrast is aspiration: If the initial stop is aspirated, it gets 'read' >>>as voiceless, and if it's unaspirated, it gets 'read' as voiced,
>>>of what the actual voicing of the sound may be. In trying to teach >>>phonetics to college students, I've noticed that they often have >>>tremendous difficulty hearing whether a stop is voiced or voiceless: >>>If I ask them, "Is /z/ voiced or voiceless?", they can answer right >>>away. But if I ask them "Is /b/ voiced or voiceless?", they have no >>>idea, and have to look it up on the chart. On the other hand, they >>>generally have no difficulty distinguishing aspirated from >>>unaspirated stops, once they understand what to listen for. >>> >> >> I find it strange, because English has also voiced stops >>contrasting with >>voiceless stops, at least inside words, doesn't it? > >Oh, yes, of course. The point that I was making is that, when it comes >to distinguishing, say, /b/ from /p/, English speakers don't seem to be >all that sensitive to the voicing feature per se - or at least, it's very >hard to make them *consciously* sensitive to it. I have my students >do the test where they hold their fingers against their larynx and feel >for vibrations, and they typically report no difference between /b/ and >/p/. > >Matt.