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  1. Unregistered
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    #1

    Smile transcription /a:/ /ɔ:/

    I'm a German student and I'm taking an phonetic class(American English)
    I have problems to distinguish
    ɔ:
    and

    a:

    for me they sound so similar. I don't see any regularities when to use which of them

    boss, wrong, gone, lard ---> /a:/
    absordb, ward ---> /ɔ:/

    Are there any rules????

    I would be glad if somebody could help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #2

    Re: transcription /a:/ /ɔ:/

    No one else has tackled this question, so I will, though I'm afraid my answer might not be helpful.

    I wonder if there's some misunderstanding here. The two sounds that confuse you are very different. I don't see how you could have trouble hearing the difference.

    a: is similar to the vowel in German "Vater."
    ɔ: is close to the vowel in German "Sorge."

    You won't get much help from the spelling as to which pronunciation occurs in any given word.

    I wonder if you're confusing British vowels with American vowels.
    In British English "father", "not", and "all" have three different vowels.
    In North America, these words are usually pronounced with the same vowel.

    Good luck to you.
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    I'm a German student and I'm taking an phonetic class(American English)
    I have problems to distinguish
    ɔ:
    and

    a:

    for me they sound so similar. I don't see any regularities when to use which of them

    boss, wrong, gone, lard ---> /a:/
    absordb, ward ---> /ɔ:/

    Are there any rules????

    I would be glad if somebody could help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    • Join Date: Dec 2007
    • Posts: 1
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Re: transcription /a:/ /ɔ:/

    so, "boss" is pronounced like BASS(German pronunciation)?doesn'T this sound a little bit weird?

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
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    #4

    Re: transcription /a:/ /ɔ:/

    Quote Originally Posted by clickhere View Post
    so, "boss" is pronounced like BASS(German pronunciation)?doesn'T this sound a little bit weird?
    Well, it's not a 100% perfect match. In General American pronunciation, the "o" in "boss" is slightly longer and nearer the back than the "a" in German "Bass". The vowel sound in "Sorge" also differs slightly from the sound in "ward": it's much more rounded.

    Whether you actually hear any difference will depend on a lot of factors, not least of which is which variety of German you speak, and which variety of American English you're hearing.

    Dictionaries and pronunciation guides use a very small subset of IPA symbols: the full range can describe a huge variety of very subtle differences, differences that most lay people can hardly hear. They usually use square brackets [ ], which is incorrect: they should use slashes to represent the fact that these are approximate transcriptions which would be enough to distinguish between phonemes, but are seldom what speakers actually utter.

    Thus, in General American, the first vowel sound in "Boston" might be given as /a/, but not many Americans will actually pronounce it as [a]. Certainly, natives of Boston itself will pronounce it very differently indeed.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #5

    Re: transcription /a:/ /ɔ:/

    Agreed. The ability to hear the difference between similar sounds is crucial to good pronunciation, but I am maddened by my inability to hear, for example, the four "t" sounds in Hindi.
    My problem is that I hear what I expect to hear, and can't break loose, and start with a clean mental slate the way a child does.
    Do you have any suggestions on how a person can develop his or her ability to hear and differentiate?

    regards
    edward

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Well, it's not a 100% perfect match. In General American pronunciation, the "o" in "boss" is slightly longer and nearer the back than the "a" in German "Bass". The vowel sound in "Sorge" also differs slightly from the sound in "ward": it's much more rounded.

    Whether you actually hear any difference will depend on a lot of factors, not least of which is which variety of German you speak, and which variety of American English you're hearing.

    Dictionaries and pronunciation guides use a very small subset of IPA symbols: the full range can describe a huge variety of very subtle differences, differences that most lay people can hardly hear. They usually use square brackets [ ], which is incorrect: they should use slashes to represent the fact that these are approximate transcriptions which would be enough to distinguish between phonemes, but are seldom what speakers actually utter.

    Thus, in General American, the first vowel sound in "Boston" might be given as /a/, but not many Americans will actually pronounce it as [a]. Certainly, natives of Boston itself will pronounce it very differently indeed.

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