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  1. #1
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default a (pronunciation)

    I noticed that sometimes some people tend to pronounce indefinite articles (a) as [ei] - not [ə]. Is it normal? Does it have something to do with dialects or something? Where is it pronounced as [ei] ?

    In addition, in my dictionary I found out, that "a fortnight" should be pronounced "ei fo:tnait". Why should I pronounce the article "ei"? Is it a rule? How do I recognise it?

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    [ei] is used (systematically, in RBP*) in two cases that I am aware of; there may be more. These are my two:

    1 in current speech, where the speaker knows that a noun is coming, but hasn't decided what it is yet, or whether it will take an adjective, what that adjective will be, and so on. It's a way of signalling to the listener 'Don't interrupt, but I need a bit of thinking time'.

    2 to emphasize that the thing being spoken about isn't unique: "Yes, I had a knife, but you can't prove it was the murder weapon".

    I remember a joke that used this device. It was set in an audition for impersonators:

    "Next... Name please."
    "Adolph Hitler"
    "Right, that's A. Hitler"
    "No, the Hitler"

    b

    * there may in fact be dialects that prefer one pronunciation or the other,
    but this is essentially not to do with dialect
    Last edited by BobK; 25-Sep-2006 at 14:07. Reason: Oops. Made it funny

  3. #3
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    Why shall I pronouce "a fortnight" as "ei fo:tnait" ? It was written in my dictionary and I don't understand why...

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Why shall I pronouce "a fortnight" as "ei fo:tnait" ? It was written in my dictionary and I don't understand why...
    I see no reason for that pronunciation, except in emphatic contexts such as I have mentioned. In almost all cases, a schwa will be right,

    b

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I see no reason for that pronunciation, except in emphatic contexts such as I have mentioned.
    .
    .
    .
    I've been thinking about this further ('mulling it over'), and I can't think of such a context. In exceptional circumstances, I suppose an exchange like this might be possible:


    "How long will it take to get that report ready?"
    "Ages."
    "Weeks?"
    "Fortnights, more like." [Joking - this is almost a neologism.]
    "Well, I need it sooner than that - a fortnight."

    But I can't honestly imagine this happening; in all real contexts, I don't believe 'fortnight' can have a plural; and that means it can't have a contrastive (stressed) singular either.

    b

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    I agree with Bob- it's really hard to think of a need to stress it like that.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    I can't see why it should sound like that. I'd foget about this!

  8. #8
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    Is the indefinite article pronounced /ei/ here?:

    "The accident happened on a Tuesday, but I don't remember which week."

  9. #9
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Is the indefinite article pronounced /ei/ here?:

    "The accident happened on a Tuesday, but I don't remember which week."


    b

  10. #10
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: a (pronunciation)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Is the indefinite article pronounced /ei/ here?:

    "The accident happened on a Tuesday, but I don't remember which week."
    No. say "uh" Tuesday.

    ~R

    :

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