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  1. #1
    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Pronunciation of a/an.

    What is the standard American pronunciation of a in, for example:

    a dog.

    an apple.


    Is it // as in cat or /ə/ as in away?

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    A dog is like a way.

  3. #3
    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    But never /a/ like in aye, correct?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    Quote Originally Posted by pizza View Post
    But never /a/ like in aye, correct?
    You can say it that way if you're speaking very slowly, or if you're making a decision, eg:
    "Give me ... a (aye) ... um ... a (ə) hotdog with mustard, please."

  5. #5
    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    Sorry to bump this thread but I realize I didn't close this idea well enough.

    What about "an apple".

    What would be the IPA for the whole sentence?

    1) /ən ˈpəl/
    2) /n ˈpəl/

    (General American).

  6. #6
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    Could be either, depending on emphasis:

    Mother: 'When you've cleared your plate [='eaten everything up'] you can have [your 1].'
    Child finishes, eats an apple, then reaches for another.
    Mother: 'Little monkey. I said you could have [your 2].' [/n/ emphasizes singleness here.]

    The unstressed version is more common.

    b

  7. #7
    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    Very interesting BobK, thanks.

    Unstressed vowels usually default to /ə/, is this correct?

    Another confusion I have is with /ʌ/, I realize it exists in RP, but I think it does not in GA, e.g., run /rən/ instead of /rʌn/.

  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    Quote Originally Posted by pizza View Post
    Very interesting BobK, thanks.

    Unstressed vowels usually default to /ə/, is this correct? - Usually*

    ....
    *There are exceptions (though, as often with exceptions, they are in the process of being ironed out [although the ironing out often creates yet more exceptions!]. If you asked a speaker of RP 'How do you pronounce "civil"?' they would probably answer '/'sɪvɪl/'. But often, especially in contexts that have other instances of a stressed /ɪ/, the unstressed one becomes /ǝ/: for example /'sɪvǝl dɪsǝ'bi:diǝns/. Tony Blair called himself the /praɪm 'mɪnǝstǝ/.

    I haven't commented on your second point; there are lots of people here more knowledgeable about GA than I am.

    b

  9. #9
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    PS Also an unstressed written 'e' can often be realized as /ɪ/ - as in /prɪ'zju:m/. In fact that /ɪ/ is quite common - even giving rise to misspellings (with 'i'). Only yesterday, for example (/ɪg'za:mpǝl/ !), in this forum, I saw 'aggravate' misspelt with an 'i'. (And in that case, as it happens, the misspelling allows for a change in the meaning - for me, 'aggravation' will always involve the idea of making something more grave; but not many people insist on this more restricted meaning; and I have to accept that 'aggravation' can often be used to refer to behaviour that is just disruptive.)

    b

  10. #10
    pizza is offline Member
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    Default Re: Prononciation of a/an.

    Thanks again for taking your time to answer my questions.

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