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Thread: -less

  1. #11
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    Default Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    It is interesting, Bob!

    Do you mean that more and more people start to pronounce normal "n" instead of the nasal "n"?
    I myself don't think I can pronounce the nasal well. I have problems with it and it doesn't sound to nasal, when I read it, I think.
    I'm sorry Lenka - I'm not sure what you mean; they're both nasal. If you mean the sounds produced by "n" and "ng" in standard English pronunciation, I didn't mean that the "g" is progressively being dropped - just that the dropping happens sometimes.

    To produce "n", you put the tongue hard up against the ridge of the teeth and release the consonant through the nose.

    To produce "ng", you either make a closure as for a "k" and release the consonant through the nose ('sing') [and in some cases release the "k" audibly as well ('sink')]; or you make a closure as for a "g" and release the consonant through the nose and then release the "g" audibly as well ('finger')]. I imagine you have no trouble with this last one, because you're making the /g/ anyway, and that forces you to make the closure for the nasal in the right place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Thank you for mentioning the two words with -less. I wouldn't be aware of it if you didn't mention it. I guess that it is read with normal "e" because the stress is put on the last syllable, with the "e". Is it really the reason?
    Yes it is. Also, if you think about how the words were derived, "-less" in those two words isn't a suffix meaning 'without'; that explains the stress (from a philological point of view). But from a language learner's point of view, the difference in stress is the thing to remember; if you remember Mike's rule (unstressed -> schwa) you'll be OK (except, of course, that you have to learn what's stressed; nobody said this language learning is easy )

    b

  2. #12
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I'm sorry Lenka - I'm not sure what you mean; they're both nasal. If you mean the sounds produced by "n" and "ng" in standard English pronunciation, I didn't mean that the "g" is progressively being dropped - just that the dropping happens sometimes.

    To produce "n", you put the tongue hard up against the ridge of the teeth and release the consonant through the nose.

    To produce "ng", you either make a closure as for a "k" and release the consonant through the nose ('sing') [and in some cases release the "k" audibly as well ('sink')]; or you make a closure as for a "g" and release the consonant through the nose and then release the "g" audibly as well ('finger')]. I imagine you have no trouble with this last one, because you're making the /g/ anyway, and that forces you to make the closure for the nasal in the right place.
    Thank you for such a "detailed" description!
    I tried to pronounce it and I think I managed to pronounce it quite well (however, I can't say I am not a native speaker and you would perhaps say it doesn't sound too English :)). However, I have a little cold and maybe it helps me to pronounce the "ng" (without "g") quite well.
    Of course, it's natural to pronounce the word finger - it makes me pronounce it well. But if the "g" isn't read - such as in "working", than it may make me some problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Yes it is. Also, if you think about how the words were derived, "-less" in those two words isn't a suffix meaning 'without'; that explains the stress (from a philological point of view). But from a language learner's point of view, the difference in stress is the thing to remember; if you remember Mike's rule (unstressed -> schwa) you'll be OK (except, of course, that you have to learn what's stressed; nobody said this language learning is easy )

    b
    Hmm... Stress is quite important... I always try to learn it with the meaning of new words and I hope I don't have too big problems with it.

    By the way, in the word "nevertheless", what is the prefix/root etc.? Is it a word with three stems?
    Is there a difference between a stem and a root?

  3. #13
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    Default Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    ...
    By the way, in the word "nevertheless", what is the prefix/root etc.? Is it a word with three stems?
    Is there a difference between a stem and a root?
    Hmm; I knew that "isn't a suffix' would get me into trouble!

    Historically, until the early fourteenth century (when it started appearing), I imagine it was three separate words. Like black bird, over time it became one word; (which, incidentally, gives us the apparent paradox that a female blackbird is not a black bird - it's brown, but I digress). "Never the less" was just another way of saying "To no less a degree". So although "-less", when added to a word, is always a suffix, in the case of "nevertheless" it just happened to be at the end of a string of three words that got conflated into one. "Nonetheless" was formed in the same way, but much more recently (early 20th century).

    Some grammarians might feel that it's easier for English language learners to remember it as having a suffix, but it seems to me that if you think of it that way you have to remember the stress as exceptional; but I don't think it is exceptional (it just happens to sound different!)

    b

  4. #14
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Hmm; I knew that "isn't a suffix' would get me into trouble!

    Historically, until the early fourteenth century (when it started appearing), I imagine it was three separate words. Like black bird, over time it became one word; (which, incidentally, gives us the apparent paradox that a female blackbird is not a black bird - it's brown, but I digress). "Never the less" was just another way of saying "To no less a degree". So although "-less", when added to a word, is always a suffix, in the case of "nevertheless" it just happened to be at the end of a string of three words that got conflated into one. "Nonetheless" was formed in the same way, but much more recently (early 20th century).

    Some grammarians might feel that it's easier for English language learners to remember it as having a suffix, but it seems to me that if you think of it that way you have to remember the stress as exceptional; but I don't think it is exceptional (it just happens to sound different!)

    b
    I don't think it's easier to remember that -less is always a suffix. It would be confusing. I had never thought of he word never/nonetheless and if I did, for example if I was examined by my teacher or if I was asked to describe the word "construction" (to describe what is the prefix etc.) at my exams, I am not sure about what I would say about it, actually. I'd probably say it's a suffix without thinking of it. Now, I see I always have to think of it .
    Nevertheless :), it is clear it can't be a suffix, as there is no word "neverthe".

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    Exclamation Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Is the letter "e" in words such as "meaningless", "priceless" etc. ever read "i" or is it always pronounced just e?
    Less is pronounced as "les" but when using it as a "suffix" i.e. at the end of the word (such as meaning, price, power, doubt, etc.) then it is pronounced WITHOUT a stress & hence has "schwa" vowel in it i.e. "@".

    While using in its normal context i.e. WITHOUT particularly emphasise on the "less" bit, it'd ALMOST ALWAYS have "@" sound in it:

    @ sound is called "schwa", which is EXACTLY SAME as it occurs in:

    >> @.baUt" (as in "about"), "@.mend (as in "amend") or "and" (when unstressed).

    Hence some of the examples would be (less):

    >> meaningless = mI.nIN.l@s
    >> priceless = praIs.l@s
    >> powerless = paU@.l@s
    >> doubtless = daUt.l@s

    The same goes for "ness" at the end such as (ness):

    >> coolness = cu:l.n@s
    >> kindness = kaInd.n@s
    >> darkness = dA:k.n@s

    Again, the similar rule/logic can be used for "ful" at the end such as (ful):

    >> helpful = help.f@l
    >> hopeful = EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead@l
    >> useful = u:z.f@l

    ONLY exception I can think of here is "armful" which is NOT pronounced as "A:m.f@l" but it's "A:m.fUl" instead.

    Another example of such suffix would be "ment", such as:

    >> movement = mu:v.m@nt
    >> government = gVv(@)n.m@nt
    >> amazement = ameIz.m@nt

    Hope it was more than what you'd asked for. Any further question/queries, let me know.

  6. #16
    Lenka is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by j4mes_bond25 View Post
    Less is pronounced as "les" but when using it as a "suffix" i.e. at the end of the word (such as meaning, price, power, doubt, etc.) then it is pronounced WITHOUT a stress & hence has "schwa" vowel in it i.e. "@".

    While using in its normal context i.e. WITHOUT particularly emphasise on the "less" bit, it'd ALMOST ALWAYS have "@" sound in it:

    @ sound is called "schwa", which is EXACTLY SAME as it occurs in:

    >> @.baUt" (as in "about"), "@.mend (as in "amend") or "and" (when unstressed).

    Hence some of the examples would be (less):

    >> meaningless = mI.nIN.l@s
    >> priceless = praIs.l@s
    >> powerless = paU@.l@s
    >> doubtless = daUt.l@s

    The same goes for "ness" at the end such as (ness):

    >> coolness = cu:l.n@s
    >> kindness = kaInd.n@s
    >> darkness = dA:k.n@s

    Again, the similar rule/logic can be used for "ful" at the end such as (ful):

    >> helpful = help.f@l
    >> hopeful = EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead@l
    >> useful = u:z.f@l

    ONLY exception I can think of here is "armful" which is NOT pronounced as "A:m.f@l" but it's "A:m.fUl" instead.

    Another example of such suffix would be "ment", such as:

    >> movement = mu:v.m@nt
    >> government = gVv(@)n.m@nt
    >> amazement = ameIz.m@nt

    Hope it was more than what you'd asked for. Any further question/queries, let me know.
    Thank you for mentioning the pronounciation... I had never noticed that -ment is pronounced with e schwa before...
    Anyway, thanks a lot for the word "armful" - I thought it was read with the e schwa as well!


    useful = ju:z.f@l

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    Exclamation Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenka View Post
    Thank you for mentioning the pronounciation... I had never noticed that -ment is pronounced with e schwa before...
    Anyway, thanks a lot for the word "armful" - I thought it was read with the e schwa as well!


    useful = ju:z.f@l
    Pleasure.

    Yes, "ment" is ALWAYS (I'm not aware of any "exception" as yet) pronounced with schwa (@) when used as suffix.

    So far, I'm only aware of "Armful" being the only exception where "ful" is pronounced NOT as "f@l" but instead as "fUl".

    Another important suffix that are used with "schwa" @ includes:

    >> "man" (normally pronounce as "m{n") as in ......... fireman, statesman, huntman, Englishman, etc.
    >> "ward" (normally pronounce as "wO:d/wA:d") as in ......... upward, Edward, inward, outward, etc.

    Depending on the amount of your interest so far, you might like to know that the schwa in "ful" (useful, hopeful, etc.) are often NOT pronounced at all & instead 2 consonant (1 occuring BEFORE schwa & 1 occuring AFTER schwa) are pronounced together.

    For example,

    >> useful, instead of "ju:z.f@l" becomes "ju:z.fl"
    >> hopeful, instead of "EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead@l" becomes "EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead"

    This is because 4 consonants are classified as "syllabic consonants". These are "n", "r", "l", "m". This means any schwa appearing BEFORE them could be given a miss in pronouncing. Hence:

    >> bottom, instead of becoming "bOt.@m" (which is ALSO right) .... becomes "bOt.m"
    >> risen, instead of becoming "rIz.@n" (which is ALSO right) ....... becomes "rIz.n" (same goes for "listen or soften" but NOT in "London or Hampton")
    >> tunnel, instead of becoming "tVn.@l" (which is ALSO right) ..... becomes "tVn.l"
    >> history, instead of becoming "hIs.t@.ri" (which is ALSO right) ...... becomes "hIs.tri"

    Some uses "schwa" while some don't. I personally prefer the pronouncing it using this rule of "syllabic consonant" i.e. WITHOUT using "schwa".

    Soooooooooo, a LOT goes in the world of "Phonetics", as you can see. But overall, it's all fun & games ;)

  8. #18
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: -less

    I don't know your transcription, and I've been using IPA symbols for more than 30 years - so I'll stick to those.
    Quote Originally Posted by j4mes_bond25 View Post
    ...
    Yes, "ment" is ALWAYS (I'm not aware of any "exception" as yet) pronounced with schwa (@) when used as suffix.
    Be so aware . For me this is a case like the ones you mention below in the words
    Some uses "schwa" while some don't. I personally prefer the pronouncing it using this rule of "syllabic consonant" i.e. WITHOUT using "schwa".

    For me, there's a syllabic consonant (specifically, a syllabic nasal) here.


    Quote Originally Posted by j4mes_bond25 View Post
    ...
    So far, I'm only aware of "Armful" being the only exception where "ful" is pronounced NOT as "f@l" but instead as "fUl".
    This "exception" is news to me. For me, 'useful' is a perfect rhyme for 'beautiful', 'spoonful', etc. (And speakers of British English - RBP, that is - usually [z] pronounce useful with a /s/ in the middle.)

    I think the topic of syllabic consonants doesn't get the attention it deserves in EFL circles. I can almost always tell a German - however nearly-perfect his accent - by the [mis-]pronunciation of "London". He will give it a syllabic consonant, with nasal plosion. But the way English teachers make free with the term "schwa", anyone would think that "button" (with nasal plosion) and "Sutton" (without) sounded the same. To my ear (and, more importantly, as captured by a sound spectrograph) they don't.

    I suspect nobody's listening though

    b

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    Exclamation Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I don't know your transcription, and I've been using IPA symbols for more than 30 years - so I'll stick to those.
    b
    Well, it's a SAMPA transcription. Benefit being it can be easily typed on computer keys simply using standard font already in the PC such as "Times New Roman", "Ariel", etc. WITHOUT having to rely on any special font (like IPA font) that needs installing first.

    You can see the IPA font (as you know rather well) & it's EQUIVALENT "sampa" transcription on this website:

    SAMPA computer readable phonetic alphabet

    When I do my Phonetic related work, I save things in "IPA" text (as I've installed the font on my PC) but when I need to take the print-out, I tend to use local Library's computer. Since they don't have IPA font on their PC, they can't print it, so I simply select my IPA fonts & change it to "Times New Roman", which means it gets converted to "Sampa" transcription & can then take the print-outs.

    I personally find IPA easier to read & of course little more "professional" ;) & hence use it all the time (except when printing out the documents).

    IPA can be installed on your PC for free from many websites, if you may so wish.

  10. #20
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    Default Re: -less

    Quote Originally Posted by j4mes_bond25 View Post
    Well, it's a SAMPA transcription. Benefit being it can be easily typed on computer keys simply using standard font already in the PC such as "Times New Roman", "Ariel", etc. WITHOUT having to rely on any special font (like IPA font) that needs installing first.
    But I just use Lucida Sans Unicode. It doesn't give you everything in the IPA world, but I've (so far) never had any trouble with transcribing English phonemes. (I've downloaded the real thing, but stopped using it here.)

    Of course, Lucida Sans Unicode isn't as common as Arial, but most modern PCs have it.

    Quote Originally Posted by j4mes_bond25 View Post
    You can see the IPA font (as you know rather well) & it's EQUIVALENT "sampa" transcription on this website:
    SAMPA computer readable phonetic alphabet
    Thanks

    b

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