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  1. #1
    yiuho is offline Junior Member
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    Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    Hi All,

    I was wondering how come we pronounce Speak, like Sbeak, Space like Sbace, Mistake like Misdake, Skate like Sgate.......can anyone explain to me?
    Thanks

    Regards,

    William

  2. #2
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    Quote Originally Posted by yiuho View Post
    Hi All,

    I was wondering how come we pronounce Speak, like Sbeak, Space like Sbace, Mistake like Misdake, Skate like Sgate.......can anyone explain to me?
    Thanks

    Regards,

    William
    Hello William

    It has to do with voice onset timing (VOT):
    In phonetics, voice onset time, ... , is a feature of the production of stop consonants. It is defined as the length of time that passes between when a stop consonant is released and when voicing, the vibration of the vocal folds, begins .

    The vocal folds in anticipation of a vowel, say the vowel in skate for example, start to vibrate early, resulting in the preceding voiceless stop /k/ sounding like [g]; but, it's not [g] at all. It's a de-aspirated /k/. In other words, the puff of air, called aspiration, that usually releases with /k/ (e.g., king) is not fully released. The result is a de-aspirated /k/, a sound similar to [g], but not [g].

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
    yiuho is offline Junior Member
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    Re: Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Hello William

    It has to do with voice onset timing (VOT):
    In phonetics, voice onset time, ... , is a feature of the production of stop consonants. It is defined as the length of time that passes between when a stop consonant is released and when voicing, the vibration of the vocal folds, begins .

    The vocal folds in anticipation of a vowel, say the vowel in skate for example, start to vibrate early, resulting in the preceding voiceless stop /k/ sounding like [g]; but, it's not [g] at all. It's a de-aspirated /k/. In other words, the puff of air, called aspiration, that usually releases with /k/ (e.g., king) is not fully released. The result is a de-aspirated /k/, a sound similar to [g], but not [g].

    Hope that helps.
    Hi Soup, thank you very much for your detailed reply. I'd like to know if we pronounce "Mistake", like "Misdake"...I understand this is not a [d] sound after your explanation....Can I don't change the sound of "Mistake", just say "Mis" "take" without change the sound of [t], is it correct? Hope you understand what I mean. Thanks.

    William

  4. #4
    Soup's Avatar
    Soup is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    Quote Originally Posted by yiuho View Post
    Hi Soup, thank you very much for your detailed reply. I'd like to know if we pronounce "Mistake", like "Misdake"...I understand this is not a [d] sound after your explanation....Can I don't change the sound of "Mistake", just say "Mis" "take" without change the sound of [t], is it correct? Hope you understand what I mean. Thanks.

    William
    William, I understand your question.

    The process by which voiceless stops become de-aspirated after /s/ and before a vowel is a characteristic of English pronunciation. That is, pronounce /t/ in mistake as [t], with aspiration, and your pronunciation wouldn't sound all that native-like. It would be understandable, though.

  5. #5
    jflooking is offline Newbie
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    Re: Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    I find teaching these rules to the learners of English as a second/foreing language useless.

    There are too many of them to remember, and some learners who are too eager to sound "perfect", will now forcefully try to pronouce D rather than T and G rather than K ....

    ..while all they need to remember is that for some speakers these sounds will SOUND "somewhere in between D and T, K and G" ... and it happens naturally, you don't have to consciously try to pronounce D rather than T.

    Especially with younger learners - there is no way you can teach correct spelling because of this. I personally attempt to say a clear T (K) in order for my P1-3 students to remember the spelling.

    Don't fret about it!

  6. #6
    yangmuye is offline Newbie
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    Re: Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    Quote Originally Posted by Soup View Post
    Hello William
    It has to do with voice onset timing
    In phonetics, voice onset time, ... , is a feature of the production of stop consonants. It is defined as the length of time that passes between when a stop consonant is released and when voicing, the vibration of the vocal folds, begins .
    If a say "p t k" with <20ms VOT, will native speaker hear "b d g" instead?
    If I remove the s from sp st sk, does it sounds identical to b d g?

    As I know, English "voiced consonants" have a great chance to be devoiced.

    I'm interesting if English speakers are able to tell the difference between aspirated and dis-aspirated p (like in Chinese), or full voiced b and dis-aspirated p (like in Spanish).

  7. #7
    Linguist__ is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    Quote Originally Posted by yangmuye View Post
    If a say "p t k" with <20ms VOT, will native speaker hear "b d g" instead?
    If I remove the s from sp st sk, does it sounds identical to b d g?

    As I know, English "voiced consonants" have a great chance to be devoiced.

    I'm interesting if English speakers are able to tell the difference between aspirated and dis-aspirated p (like in Chinese), or full voiced b and dis-aspirated p (like in Spanish).
    In a clinical context where things like VOT are useful, a native speaker would probably be able to tell the difference between aspirated and unaspirated. I don't think they'd say the unaspirated was the same as the voiced equivalent, but probably that it sounded oddly similar.

    However, in real situations, where VOT has no real use, the person would easily know what you mean from context regardless of how aspirated or unaspirated your voiceless plosives are.

    Much more obvious phonetically would be vowel distortions. Even more obvious still would be problems in grammar and vocabulary.

    Certainly though, where sounds are allophones in the language you are learning, but not in your own language, then it doesn't really matter, since the language you are learning wont really differentiate between the two.

    You need to be more careful when sounds that are allophones in your own language are phonemes in the language you are learning. An English speaker learning Chinese, for example, would need to be more careful with their aspiration of /p/. Similarly the distinction between /l/ and /ɹ/ needs to be more carefully followed for language speakers where these sounds are allophones, but phonemes in English.

  8. #8
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Pronounce - Speak,Space,Mistake,Skate

    Quote Originally Posted by yangmuye View Post
    ...
    I'm interesting if English speakers are able to tell the difference between aspirated and dis-aspirated p (like in Chinese), or full voiced b and dis-aspirated p (like in Spanish).
    I think native English speakers may be aware of it, without giving it much (if any) thought. For example, few people would say 'Audrey Hepburn sounds foreign'. In fact, I'm not sure myself. But her Dutch-speaking background gives her voiced plosives enough aspiration* to make me wonder.

    I'm sure the Hollywood executives who first hired her had no idea about her aspiration, but it probably influenced their thinking that 'the kid had something special about her'.

    b

    PS You're interested, though it is an interesting question.

    pps Her mistake was the reverse - not aspirating initial voiceless consonants
    Last edited by BobK; 11-Feb-2010 at 17:10. Reason: Correction

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