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  1. #1
    EngFan is offline Member
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    Default There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Hi All,


    I always listen English Radio programme, sometimes I hear the native speakers would pronounce the word "Eleven" which has two different pronunciations in the first syllable. In phonetics symbol, the first pronunciation I hear is /i ˈlev ən/ another one is /ə ˈlev ən/. I wanted to know which pronunciation is more popular in the English word. Please advise!


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  2. #2
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Once you have become a near native, you won't think those two are significantly different. Either sounds normal, and most people wouldn't pay any attention to the difference. The point is the second vowel is well and clearly pronounced. The first and third can be any where between the 2 vowels you mention (assuming you mean /I/ when you write /i/.)
    Last edited by konungursvia; 01-Aug-2012 at 18:19. Reason: Punctuation

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    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Add one more variant: elebm in fast tempos.

  4. #4
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Quote Originally Posted by raindoctor View Post
    Add one more variant: elebm in fast tempos.
    I don't understand what that means. What's "elebm"?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I don't understand what that means. What's "elebm"?
    I imagine it's /elebm/
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  6. #6
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I imagine it's /elebm/
    And that's a pronunciation of "eleven" native speakers use? I don't think I have encountered it.

  7. #7
    konungursvia's Avatar
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Yes, but I'd say it's as rare as George Bush's "idn't it?"

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    And that's a pronunciation of "eleven" native speakers use? I don't think I have encountered it.
    When /n/ is followed by a biliabial (as in eleven men, eleven boys, eleven pigs), it can assimilate to /m/. It's possible in fast speech for the lips to close before the /v/ has been released, leading to a nasally released /b/. I don't think it's particularly common, and I think that most native speakers would believe that they pronounced or heard /vən/.

    I do model and get my learners to use assimilation when it is what most native speakers do naturally, but I would not model or mention this version to them.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  9. #9
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Thanks. I think I will need to hear this to fully believe it's possible, but I accept your answers of course.

  10. #10
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Thanks. I think I will need to hear this to fully believe it's possible, but I accept your answers of course.
    Try saying 'eleven men' -/əlevəmmen/. I have transcribed that with two /m/s to suggest that the assimilated /n/ makes the /m/ sound longer than it would be with a single /m/ - /əlevəmen/, just as the /m/ sound in Tom Merrick is longer than that in Tom Errick.

    Now try it again with syllabic m - /əlevmmen/.

    Finally, close your lips after the second schwa (forgetting the /v/), and release the /m/ sound nasally before the lips open for the /e/. I think you'll find that the two words come out fairly naturally, and you'll see how an /əlebm/ (not /elebm/) version is possible. If you then say a sentence reasonably quickly with this pronunciation, you'll probably find that it doesn't sound as unnatural as you though it would.

    Last Saturday at Fratton Park, disappointed spectators watched eleven men desperately trying to pretend they were a team.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


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