Re: There are at least two different pronunciations for "Eleven"?
Let's just take one point
Normal dictionaries tend to give only what we might call the careful pronunciation. If you look at the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary or the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary you'll find both the /nd/ and the /m/ versions. In British English alone you will hear all of these, and more, variations: /hændbæg/, /hendbeg/, /hænbæg/, /henbeg/, /ʔændbææg/, /ʔendbeg/, /hæmbæg/, /æmdæg/ ... .These would usually be considered allophonic, rather than phonemic, variations, and most native speakers of BrE would consider them simply as dialect versions of the same word.
Originally Posted by Esgaleth
In some languages,(Czech seems to be an example) minor variations in the quality of the sound can render a word incomprehensible to native speakers. This is not the case in English. Some English vowels, (/æ/, for example) can have a wide range of variations. Within each speaker's dialect/idiolect, however, a speaker's version of nearly every phoneme will be different from nearly all other phonemes. *
We rarely utter words in isolation. If we do, we may revert to spelling, though semi-literate people may not spell correctly. That doesn't matter - we still know what is meant:
A: "Cough - C - O U - G - H"
B: "Cough - K - O - F"
Normally context tells us what is meant. If a speaker of dialect X says, "I spent the day with my mate" and pronounces the word 'day' almost as I would pronounce 'die', there is no confusion. The word 'die' would make no sense there, and nearly every other word tells me that he is a speaker of another dialect, even if I can't tell which one. So, I know he is saying 'day'.
*There are a small number of exceptions. For example, some speakers use different phonemes in the words pore and poor, others do not. This does not change the general picture.
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