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Pronunciation for a Chinese Speaker
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

EH wrote:


Lorikeet, I was wondering about your coarticulation examples. Do you really pronounce "They wash the dishes" and "They washed the dishes" exactly the same? I'm just wondering if, like me, you change the /th/ in 'the' into more of a /d/ sound when saying the second sentence. Just curious; I know everyone says things a little differently. Another example of how coarticulation makes things sounds the same might be, "I walk to the store" versus "I walked to the store."

-EH


I agree that your "I walk to the store." and "I walked to the store." examples will be pronounced the same. That is probably the coarticulation you are talking about. Oddly enough, when I say "They washed the dishes," I tend to drop out the ending sound of the verb, and keep the beginning sound of the "the". In my mind there is a difference. I maintain, however, that you can't always hear the difference. (Just confirmed by asking my son btw.) Who knows, maybe it's my idiolect Wink
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Norm Ryder



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Posts: 118
Location: Canberra, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 11:27 pm    Post subject: Rolling your 'r's and other activities. Reply with quote

Hi folks
If you ever come across a little book by Jean Aitchison Language Change: progress or decay, Cambridge University Press (my edition 1991), you'll find all sorts of fascinating discussion on just these problems. Back in the 1960s and 70s a guy named Labov did a whole study on the way New Yorkers were changing the use of the "r" at the time. He did a lot of other work as well, with the sort of problems you've all been discussing.
Then there's the husband and wife team of Milroys, and they've studied (among other things) the way the men of Edinburgh were changing their pronunciation of "r" in a different way from the women - and for different reasons! (Lesley Milroy, Observing and Analysing Natural Language, Basil Blackwell, mine 1987, pp114-7).

And Iain, you thought Lorikeet was mad!

Washing the cups is sending me a bit crazy, too. I'm almost agreeing with Lorikeet; but no: when I say "I washed the cups", the tip of my tongue moves forward to behind my (rather prominent!) front teeth, rather than remaining at the hard palate as in "I wash the cups". And there's also a slight change in rhythm. Exclamation Exclamation But I'd say you be even crazier trying to teach it!

Cheers (In Oz: Chizz)

Norm
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mslaoshi



Joined: 19 Mar 2004
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2004 11:05 pm    Post subject: Chinese speakers and added "a" sound Reply with quote

I teach a conversation class for Chinese speakers and have noticed the same thing. What I do is mirror what they are doing, both with sound, and then sight. I have a tape I made with a booklet of pictures showing the inside and outside of the mouth. This helps them tremendously because they are able to see (through booklet and out practice) and hear the difference. My next quarter is starting in a week. I am going to add a Chinese speaker comparing hard to pronounce sounds in English to Chinese. The dreaded "r" in far is comparable to the "nar?" in Chinese which means where.

Good luck! Pronunciation may seem nerdy to some people, but it is one of my favorite subjects to teach. In a job-placement non-profit for immigrant women who have been exploited long enough ($2--$3 an hour, 12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week) it is crucial to improve pronunciation so they can interview and make calls about interviews. These women have to support themselves and lost their Chinese citizenship when choosing America. They have to support themselves, not to mention their families.
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LarryLatham



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1195
Location: Aguanga, California (near San Diego)

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2004 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello MS,

Just curious to know what city you are teaching in. Sounds like it might be San Francisco. If so, do you know Lorikeet?

Larry Latham
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mslaoshi



Joined: 19 Mar 2004
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2004 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I am in San Francisco. Whi is Lorikeet? Reminds me of Parakeet.
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LarryLatham



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1195
Location: Aguanga, California (near San Diego)

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2004 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look UP about four or five posts. Wink

Larry Latham
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Hay



Joined: 20 May 2004
Posts: 6
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:32 am    Post subject: Chinese p, t, k Reply with quote

Sounds to me like yr students are over-compensating, since in Cantonese Chinese I know P T and K at the end of words are never fully sounded (eg 'sik' is pronounced without the final release of the tongue (or click) that we would say in English for 'sick'.

It's good that they're pronouncing these letters, but maybe they just have to learn to tone it down a bit!
Laughing
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Nacozari



Joined: 25 Jan 2005
Posts: 2
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 10:03 am    Post subject: back to T and R Reply with quote

getting back to your pronunciation discussion:

i've noticed that americans often don't really pronounce these final Ts...as in "bat" or "rat" or "cat"... the actual closure of the teeth and tongue never truly occur for the T sound at the end, which is just sort of "implied" most of the time... american english seems to have a tremendous aversion towards the letter T anywhere except at the very beginning of words...

as for the R between words that end and start in vowels, that is ONLY a New England thang and is considered incredibly old-fashioned by other Americans, who have no difficult whatsoever in pronouncing vowel sounds together... this is so to such an extent that i hear people saying A instead of AN more and more often (in uncareful speech i commonly here "a appointment" or "a awful time" etc.)
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:09 pm    Post subject: Re: back to T and R Reply with quote

Nacozari wrote:
getting back to your pronunciation discussion:

i've noticed that americans often don't really pronounce these final Ts...as in "bat" or "rat" or "cat"... the actual closure of the teeth and tongue never truly occur for the T sound at the end, which is just sort of "implied" most of the time... american english seems to have a tremendous aversion towards the letter T anywhere except at the very beginning of words...



Ah, on this, Nacozari, I disagree. To me, the initial "t" sound consists of the articulation and a puff of air. (Leading to the infamous teacher examples of flying paper--holding a piece of paper at the very top, and close to the mouth prior to the pronunciation of a word like "top", causing the paper to move with the puff of air.) The same thing, of course, happens with the initial "p" sound.

If you take a final "p" sound, however, as in the word "map" you will find that many (not all) Americans make the articulation, but stop before there is any puff of air at all. This is how my speech is. When I say the word "map" and you look at my mouth, you can see the articulation of the "p". My mouth is closed when the word is finished.

The same thing happens with the final "t" sound. When I say a word like "mat" I make the articulation of the "t", but I don't have the puff of air. You would find it difficult to see the articulation, but it is there. It is even more difficult to see the articulation of "k" at the end, but it's there too. I couldn't speak for everyone, and of course, there will be many variations, but I have been teaching and listening long enough to know that mine is quite common.
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LarryLatham



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1195
Location: Aguanga, California (near San Diego)

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Me too, Lorikeet. I am entirely with you on this. Smile I guess we don't know any of the Americans that Nacozari knows.

Larry Latham
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 7:20 am    Post subject: Or maybe Reply with quote

Hey all.

Have to agree with Lorikeet's comments on that final "t" as well. For example, if that "t" is made plosive, Spanish listeners tend to hear an "s" and think it's plural.

Maybe Nacozari is only listening to Americans living in Spain. Maybe those Americans have found thier own accentuation and articulation modified through using Spanish on a daily basis. Maybe those Americans are feigning a "slight British Accent", nearly being obligated to teach so-called "British English" over so-called "American English." Will see when he/she replies to our comments.

peace,
revel.
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xantarcx



Joined: 02 Nov 2005
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2005 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chinese-accented english:

Seating -> Sit-ting (pronunced by Chinese)
Silly -> Sea-lee (with a very weird tone)
Regular -> Weg-gula or Leg-gula
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kevinjamessmith



Joined: 20 Nov 2005
Posts: 1
Location: Weifang, China

PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2005 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Curiously, my Chinese students have a tendency to pronounce certain sounds in words exactly backwards from how they should.

Xantarcx gives the two examples with [i] and [i:]
Seating -> Sit-ting (pronunced by Chinese)
Silly -> Sea-lee (with a very weird tone)

And strangely enough:
Sitting -> Seating
Sealy -> Silly

And there are more:

America -> Amerik
Africa -> Afrik

But if they were actually supposed to say Amerik, I'm sure they'd end up saying America, and Afrik would become Africa, just like the words:

cake -> cake-a
that -> that-a

This is extremely frustrating for me at times, because I know that they can make the sounds perfectly when I hear them get these things backwards like this, but even though I tell them and practice with them it's almost impossible to correct them for more than about five minutes.

Similarly, they are always expanding contractions and contracting words that aren't contracted. Eg. "Won't" becomes "will not" and "will not" becomes "won't". I'm pretty sure this is directly related to the way they are taught about contractions in English when they first start learning. The teacher gives them a test and has them uncontract everything that has been contracted and contract everything that they can that hasn't been contracted. Only, then they keep doing that for the rest of their English speaking life, never actually reading the text the way it's written. Exasperating!
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2005 4:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kevinjamessmith, I think you're running into an issue of categorical production and perception.

In Chinese you have one sound category with category borders big enough to roughly include the two English sound categories of /I/ and /i/. Whereas Chinese speakers can raise their tongue to any height between /I/ and /i/ and have it mean the same thing in a word, in English we draw a mental line between those two tongue heights and consider them different sounds.

So when you ask a Chinese speaker to say "seat" and you hear them say "sit", then ask them to say "sit" and hear them say "seat", the reason is this:
1) the student heard a sound within the student's /i,I/ category and therefore repeated a sound somewhere within that category.
2) you heard a sound within that category but it didn't sound exactly right to you, so you perceived it as being 'over the border' from /i/ to /I/.

The pronunciation problem is that of a mismatch between the sound categories produced by the student and the sound categories perceived by the teacher. It's not that they know the sound and produce it at the wrong time (well, that may be the case sometimes...), but more that they don't have a firm grasp on where /i/ ends and where /I/ begins, so most of their sounds are somewhere in the middle just to be on the safe side.

Cheers,
-EH
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CEJ



Joined: 23 Dec 2005
Posts: 55

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2005 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lorikeet wrote:
EH wrote:


Lorikeet, I was wondering about your coarticulation examples. Do you really pronounce "They wash the dishes" and "They washed the dishes" exactly the same? I'm just wondering if, like me, you change the /th/ in 'the' into more of a /d/ sound when saying the second sentence. Just curious; I know everyone says things a little differently. Another example of how coarticulation makes things sounds the same might be, "I walk to the store" versus "I walked to the store."

-EH


I agree that your "I walk to the store." and "I walked to the store." examples will be pronounced the same. That is probably the coarticulation you are talking about. Oddly enough, when I say "They washed the dishes," I tend to drop out the ending sound of the verb, and keep the beginning sound of the "the". In my mind there is a difference. I maintain, however, that you can't always hear the difference. (Just confirmed by asking my son btw.) Who knows, maybe it's my idiolect ;)


There seems to be two possibilities here: 1. grammatical simplification that involves the dropping of some auxiliary words and endings--I doubt it in this case. 2. almost the same articulation, but with a subtle--but detectable difference in timing with something extra happening in the glottis to take up that extra beat. There might also be, in some cases, a slight difference in labialization in the transitions from -ed to to.
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