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  1. #11
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsah3 View Post
    So I'm afraid you're wrong, at least about RP and GA
    Please do not tell me I am wrong about the accent (RP) I have spoken for much of my life.

    Peter Roach's Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (2003) gives it as /faɪə*/ (my asterisk stands for Roach's superscript r). Roach gives /faɪɚ/ for the American pronunciation.

    John Wells's Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2008) gives it as /ˈfaɪə/ (the I is italicised in the LPD. This, with the ◡ symbol, indicates possible compression into /fajə/). Wells gives /ˈfaɪ*r/ (this time the asterisk stands for Wells's superscript schwa) for the American.

    Cruttenden (2001) writes that the /aɪə/ of 'fire' may be smoothed into /aːə/ . He also notes that i the diphthongal pronunciation /ɑ:ə/ is sometimes reduced to a long monophthong /aː/ in refined RP and some other accents such as Cockney and Liverpool. As I pointed out to you in another thread, Upton (2004) described Refined RP as "[o]utmoded and, when heard (typically in old movies and newsreel commentaries) attracting amused comment". The Cockney and Liverpool dialects are not generally regarded as standard English.

    In most varieties of British English, fire and fee are not a minimal pair.

    ps, Even if one regards Roach's transcription as that of a monosyllabic pronunciation, triphthongs are not regarded as phonemes in British English.
    Last edited by 5jj; 29-Apr-2013 at 00:11. Reason: ps added

  2. #12
    lsah3 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Right, but which dictionary says fire has two syllables? You haven't quite proved me wrong, actually you've proved yourself wrong - LPD does use a syllabic mark [.], so it's another source saying "one syllable, not two".

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsah3 View Post
    Right, but which dictionary says fire has two syllables?
    Well, the LPD for one.
    You haven't quite proved me wrong, actually you've proved yourself wrong - LPD does use a syllabic mark [.], so it's another source saying "one syllable, not two".
    I don't understand what you mean here. As Wells explains on page xxvii, "Syllable divisions are shown in LPD by spacing." There is no [.] in the LPD entry for 'fire', but there is a primary stress marker (ˈ) before the first syllable.
    Last edited by 5jj; 29-Apr-2013 at 00:40. Reason: format

  4. #14
    lsah3 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Maybe I remember it wrong but, don't other entries have [.], like in the software version? Like this: http://www.antimoon.com/how/dictionaries/cepd-shot.png if they do (I'm almost sure about it - why would the software and book present different transcriptions?), then LPD is yet another dictionary proving the one syllable pronunciation.

  5. #15
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by lsah3 View Post
    Maybe I remember it wrong but, don't other entries have [.], like in the software version?
    No. I told you in my last post how syllable division is shown in the LPD. I had the book open at that page as I typed the words.
    Like this: http://www.antimoon.com/how/dictionaries/cepd-shot.png if they do (I'm almost sure about it - why would the software and book present different transcriptions?),
    I don't see the point of that link. It led me to what looked like something from Cambridge
    then LPD is yet another dictionary proving the one syllable pronunciation.
    Did you not read the entry that I typed from the LPD? It shows the word as two syllables, the first of which is stressed. It does also show the possibility of compression. However, the number of syllables is not directly relevant to the question of minimal pairs.

    Most American English dialects are rhotic. As the /r/ is pronounced, 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
    Most English English dialects are non-rhotic. The /r/ is not pronounced (except when followed by a vowel), but the sound following /f/ is a triphthong. Whether one considers a tripthong to be one or two syllables does not change the fact that triphthongs are not phonemes in British English, so 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.

    I have just looked through a few online dictionaries, not all of which use the same symbols. I have added my comments in blue

    Collins: faɪə (tripthong)
    MacMillan (American): /faɪr/(triphthong)
    MacMillan (British): /
    ˈfaɪə(r)/ (triphthong)
    Merriam-Webster:
    \ˈfī(-ə)r\ (/r/ pronounced)
    Cambridge
    ALD: Br: /faɪə*/ (* =superscript r) (triphthong); US: /faɪr/ (/r/ pronounced)
    Oxford
    Online: : /ˈfʌɪə/ (triphthong)

    By now I expect that everybody else has given up on this thread. I shall stop too. I don't think I have anything fresh to add to what I have already said.

  6. #16
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    I don't want to get too involved in this discussion, but would say that I am a BrE RP speaker well into middle age and I do pronounce fire with two syllables, but YMMV.

  7. #17
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Reminds me of a Deep South Nativity play, in which the three kings wore fireman's helmets. Asked why, the schoolmarm quoted the Bible: 'Three wise men came from afar'.

    b

  8. #18
    lsah3 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I don't see the point of that link. It led me to what looked like something from Cambridge
    If it wasn't forced onto newcomers to have their posts first approved by the moderator and only then you can edit them I'd fix it faster.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Whether one considers a tripthong to be one or two syllables does not change the fact that triphthongs are not phonemes in British English, so 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
    It depends on the analysis. For example, this document considers these phonemes (or at least doesn't say anything about them not being phonemes): http://www.liu.se/ikk/english/files/...sofEnglish.pdf . Wikipedia also says:

    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    English in British Received Pronunciation (monosyllabic triphthongs with R are optionally distinguished from sequences with disyllabic realizations)- [aʊ̯ə̯] as in hour (compare with disyllabic "plougher" [aʊ̯.ə])
    - [aɪ̯ə̯] as in fire (compare with disyllabic "higher" [aɪ̯.ə])
    - [ɔɪ̯ə̯] as in "loir" (compare with final disyllabic sequence in "employer" [ɔɪ̯.ə])
    John Wells says on his page:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Wells
    There are also the sequences to be heard in words such as fire, power, which some people analyse as triphthongs: they are represented by the diphthong symbols as in price, mouth plus schwa. Some authors recognize other similar sequences as well (player, slower...), but there really seems to be no need to list them separately.
    So, essentialy - if you want them to be one syllable, they are. If you feel that they are disylabic - they are. We have to agree to disagree, because both of us are right and yet noone is. There isn't a "better" analysis in this case.

  9. #19
    lsah3 is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    By now I expect that everybody else has given up on this thread. I shall stop too. I don't think I have anything fresh to add to what I have already said.
    I don't think it was appropriate to not approve my first reply to this message though. If you want to not answer, fine, but censorship is childish. I assume it was indeed not approved on purpose, because I posted it about 30-36 hours ago, you were active plenty of time during that time and it still didn't appear. Thinking I wasn't going to suss it and re-post the message was kind of naive. I'm therefore going to bypass the necessity of you approving this post by altering the links, to make sure that this one will be visible.

    To make them quickly go back to their original form, simply paste them in the Notepad, press Ctrl+H and in the "find what" field type "DOT", and in the one below type ".". Do the same with "SLASH" and "/", and there's your link, ready to be used.

    Back on topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Most American English dialects are rhotic. As the /r/ is pronounced, 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
    Most English English dialects are non-rhotic. The /r/ is not pronounced (except when followed by a vowel), but the sound following /f/ is a triphthong. Whether one considers a tripthong to be one or two syllables does not change the fact that triphthongs are not phonemes in British English, so 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
    According to your analysis. Apparently I was wrong too to say that they "are", they are according to me and some phoneticians. It turns out that if you want them to be phonemes, they are. If not, they aren't. The rest of the post clarifies this statement.

    Take a look at this: phonetic-blogDOTblogspotDOTcomSLASH2009SLASH12SLASHtriphtho ngs-anyoneDOThtml , particularly this quote:
    Quote Originally Posted by John Wells quoting Peter Roach
    To add to the difficulty, there is also the problem of whether a triphthong is felt to contain one or two syllables. Words such as ‘fire’ or ‘hour’ are probably felt by most English speakers (with BBC pronunciation) to consist of only one syllable, whereas ‘player’ /pleɪə/ or ‘slower’ /sləʊə/ are more likely to be heard as two syllables.
    Feel and hear as are pretty subjective.

    In comments there's more interesing stuff, for example Peter Roach contradicting himself a bit:

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Roach
    In talking of triphthongs, I make no claim that these have some special status as vocalic units in English phonology. I state quite clearly that they are sequences of certain diphthongs and a following schwa.
    But there's also this site: wwwDOTphonDOTuclDOTacDOTukSLASHhomeSLASHwellsSLASH ipa-english-uniDOThtm

    Quote Originally Posted by John Wells
    There are also the sequences to be heard in words such as fire, power, which some people analyse as triphthongs: they are represented by the diphthong symbols as in price, mouth plus schwa. Some authors recognize other similar sequences as well (player, slower...), but there really seems to be no need to list them separately.
    That pretty much ends the discussion. Both of us were wrong and right at the same time.

    I still prefer the analysis that consider them separate phonemes, but I won't insist anymore that this is the only correct analysis, and neither should you - because it is not true.

  10. #20
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

    Isah3, you can post links now- the software just blocks the first few posts to reduce spam and advertising.

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