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  1. #1
    oldbuddy is offline Newbie
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    Question The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    Dear all,

    The IPA of

    Bill /bɪl/
    Billy /bɪli/

    But the pronunciation of "Billy" when I hear is /biːli/, I wonder if anyone could explain it to me why the IPA shows /bɪli/

    Thanks and kind regards,
    Peter

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    Quote Originally Posted by oldbuddy View Post
    I wonder if anyone could explain it to me why the IPA shows /bɪli/
    That's the way native speakers pronounce it. Who have you heard saying /biːli/?

    Welcome to the forum.

  3. #3
    oldbuddy is offline Newbie
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary App and some other pronouncing dictionaries and many native speakers, everyone pronounces the first syllable is /bi:/, same as B, not /bɪ/
    Last edited by oldbuddy; 10-Apr-2021 at 09:50.

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    This one is clearly /bɪ/ in both BrE and NAmE https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionari...nglish/billy_1

  5. #5
    oldbuddy is offline Newbie
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    This one is clearly /bɪ/ in both BrE and NAmE https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionari...nglish/billy_1
    It obviously pronounces /bi:/ in the first syllable while it pronounces /bɪl/ for Bill, don't you hear it?

    https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionari.../bill_1?q=Bill

  6. #6
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    I'm afraid you're mistaken.

  7. #7
    GoesStation is online now Moderator
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    Oldbuddy, please update your profile with your correct native language.
    I am not a teacher.

  8. #8
    Glizdka is offline Senior Member
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    Not a teacher
    ------


    If what little I know about Chinese is true, your native language doesn't have the /
    ɪ/ sound; it only has the /i/ sound. I think this is exactly what causes you to think that what you hear is the /i/ sound while in reality it's actually the /ɪ/ sound.

    Personally, I've spent quite some time on this phenomenon, which is very common among learners. Your brain is so good at recognizing patterns that over the years of speaking Chinese it has learned that there are many deviations from the /i/ sound you produce yourself. Every person's voice sounds slightly different, and it recognizes all of them as the same sound, the /i/ sound.

    It's a very useful mechanism when talking to someone with a speech impediment, someone who's drunk, or anyone whose pronunciation is for any reason unclear. It allows you to understand them even though their pronunciation is off from what your brain takes as "the model pronunciation", your own personal pronunciation, that forms the baseline for your brain when deciding how to interpret what you're hearing.

    Although it is very useful when speaking Chinese, it severely impairs your ability to properly recognize the sounds of a foreign language, a language that has sounds that your native language does not. It makes your brain misinterpret sounds similar to the ones you're familiar with. In this case, it makes you perceive the /
    ɪ/ sound as yet another deviation from /i/. You can think of it as something similar to an optical illusion or pareidolia—you can't always trust what you think you see, or, in this case, hear— or better yet, think of it as the autocorrection feature of your phone that is gratingly miscorrecting the words you type, and you have to disable it.

    Fight it! Practice a lot with minimal pairs. Master producing the /ɪ/ sound. Make sure your own pronunciation of /ɪ/ is right and clearly different from /i/. Only then will you train your brain that these are two separate sounds that should never be mistaken for one another. It takes time, but it's worth it.

    Billy is pronounced /bɪli/. If you can't hear it, it means you haven't trained your brain enough yet.
    Last edited by Glizdka; 10-Apr-2021 at 13:48.

  9. #9
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    I had three Chinese students whose written English was nearly perfect but whose speech was unintelligible. After a frustrating session of trying and failing to convert sen co lo into seven o'clock I decided to befriend the student. I asked him to teach me some Chinese. Then the shoe was on the other foot. I felt I was duplicating his pronunciation but he kept saying "No, no, no, completely wrong."

  10. #10
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    Re: The pronunciation of Bill and Billy

    Yup.

    I used to work with an Iranian who tried to teach us all his alphabet. There were two letters that sounded EXACTLY the same to all of us. As I recall, they both sounded to us like snyrr. We got one right, but every time we got to the other one, he'd say, "Not snyrr! SNYRR!"

    When one of my nieces was five, she decided she wanted us to call her Cathy. But she pronounced it Caffy. Every time we called her that, she'd say, "Not Caffy. CAFFY!"

    When it comes to learning a language, we're all five-year-olds for a while.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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