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  1. #1
    lullaby is offline Newbie
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    Default phonetic transcription

    On our students' textbook we have the following exercise:
    Cross out the wrong transcription.
    They (trees) shouldn't be cut down /?umbi:/ / ?uldntbi;/
    NB: ? is written instead of the "sh" sound which I couldn't type.
    My question is: since the answer is the first alternative, what should be the correct pronunciation and then transcription of the positive form? i.e,
    Trees should be protected? What about must be and mustn't be? All these in spoken English ,of course. Thanks a lot.

  2. #2
    jerry081958's Avatar
    jerry081958 is offline Junior Member
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    Smile Re: phonetic transcription

    They (trees) shouldn't be cut down /?umbi:/ / ?uldntbi;/
    NB: ? is written instead of the "sh" sound which I couldn't type.
    My question is: since the answer is the first alternative, what should be the correct pronunciation and then transcription of the positive form? i.e,
    Trees should be protected? What about must be and mustn't be? All these in spoken English ,of course.

    Trying to discuss phonetics is challenging because of the challenge of the special symbols required. I teach pronunciation of American English and I am frustrated that, though there are general similarities, nearly every dictionary has its own way of representing various vowels and consonants of English. That being said, here is my take. I cannot hand write IPA (international phonetic alphabet), so I will improvise best I can.

    should be /shood bee/ sounds like "good key"

    shouldn't be Formal pronunciation is /shood'nt bee/ or more commonly, it is informal as /shood'n bee/ Sounding like "wooden bee".

    This is complex to explain without the proper symbols, explanation of formal and informal pronunciations, and demonstration so you could hear it. With the second more common pronunciation in English, there are glottal stops applied to the 'd' and the 't', virtually eliminating them from being heard.

    must be
    /must bee/ sounds like "dust key"

    mustn't be Formal = /muh sunt bee/
    Informal = /muh sun bee/ The 't' sounds essentially go away in informal pronunciation. Actually the 't' sound is half produced in what I call a 'stopped t' or glottal stop 't' sound.

    For details, I would show you the various pronunciation notes on /t/ in recent Longman's American English dictionaries. I would also point you to the chapter in Ann Cook's "American Accent Training" on the "American T".

  3. #3
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    Default Re: phonetic transcription

    Ah, how easy it is to tie yourself in knots when describing sounds. If "musn't be" is to be pronounced "muh sunt bee", how you pronounce "muh"?

    The basic principle is this: human beings are lazy. And they are too lazy to pronounce lots of consonants one after the other. If you tried to pronounce all of the consonants in "shouldn't be", you'd find it impossible.

    When faced with a huge pile of consonants like this, speakers will automatically drop some of them -- so, for example, you don't hear the L -- and smash together the remaining consonants.

    Exactly how this is done varies from speaker to speaker, but generally:

    The L disappears
    The T may disappear (it doesn't always)
    The B is pronounced with both lips, and this will usually affect the pronunciation of the N, turning it into an M (this is why we have the word impossible instead of inpossible)
    The N/M is pronounced through the nose, so this affects the D, which is then often also pronounced through the nose (English has no special letter for this sound). The D may even disappear altogether.

    This leaves us with /ˈʃumbiː/, or something similar.

    With "should be", there is no N to affect the D, so the D is still pronounced. However, it is usually not released. Normally, when we say a word like "dog", when we pronounce the D we stop the air for a very short time, and then release it. When a sound like D is followed by a sound like B, we tend to stop the air as usual, but then, before we release it, we put our lips in the position for B. (This is not a glottal stop: glottal stops happen in the back of the throat.) This is shown in IPA like this: [d ̚] So the pronunciation of "should be" is usually something like /ˈʃud ̚biː/.

    And then we also have:

    must be /ˈmʌst̚biː/ or /ˈmʌsbiː/
    mustn't be /ˈmʌsənt̚biː/ or /ˈmʌsəmbiː/

    (Gee. I hope this posts properly.)

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