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  1. #1

    "been" - long and short [i]

    I found this interesting that the word "been" - whose typical school-taught (that is, RP) pronunciation involves long [i:] vowel - uses short [i] sound in American English, so that the two following sentences actually sound the same:

    Where have you been?

    *Where have you bin?

    Just a little remark for those learning the language and not noticing those cool, little things ;)

    But please, do correct me if I'm wrong - after all, I'm not a native speaker.

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    Re: "been" - long and short [i]

    I'm Canadian and I say it like "bin". If I think about it too much I say been...but lets be honest...I say bin when I am not thinking. :)

    I am a mix of everything though, when it comes to accents. My mother is British and my father is Canadian. In Canada we speak more like Americans than the British...but I speak a bit of British English as well, due to my mother. :)

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    Re: "been" - long and short [i]

    This is a weak form of a helping verb 'be', which is noticeable in many English accents. In sentences where the verb is just there to help a main verb, the weak forms are often used. in the question...
    Where have you been?

    First, this question is an ellipse; a sentence with a part missing, as the issue or topic under discussion was probably mentioned previously by one of those people involved in the conversation. It can be ellipsed even further to...

    Where you been?

    The wh adverb 'where' and the intonation pattern carries most of the meaning, so the verb is just indicating an aspect in relation to the tense (which is present tense, with a perfective aspect that gives a reflective view of time, plus a progressve aspect- an observational view). The result is the verb 'be' (been) can be weakened to 'bin'.

    A verb's vowel sound is usually stronger if it is negative; 'not is added' which would usually strengthen the helping prefective verb 'have' more that the second progressive 'verb' 'be'.

    Where have you not been?

    This is why intonation is so important. In a noisy environment, people listen to the rhythm of language and content words, so the grammar words, which are said slightly faster, and this changes the sounds.

    Try recording yourself, of other speakers and then look at the sound profile. You will find mores spaces or gaps between content words than the grammar items.

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    Re: "been" - long and short [i]

    hey !!

    I am french but I 've been studying english at university for 3 years,

    and the big difference is that if you insist on the word been, you want to convey a message ( a good or a bad one ) and usually british people will use "bin" because it sounds more RP!

  3. #5

    Re: "been" - long and short [i]

    Thanks for the info on weak forms, Brinster! Right, why didn't I think of those...?

    Adil - I don't really think that [bin] is more RP. The RP standard, strong form is the long [i:], so that the usual - stressed - RP pronunciation should be [bi:n].

    I don't know about other nationalities, but Poles do have problems with distinguishing between [i] and [i:], so that many of them will pronounce "leave" and "live" the same. The fact is that short [i] corresponds to Polish sound represented by the letter "y", not "i" - and that seems to be causing problems.

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    Re: "been" - long and short [i]

    There's a difference between [i:], [i] and [I].
    [i] usually appears in unstressed syllables (like been, for example) and it's the short variant of [i:].
    [I], however, is slightly different, it's a bit more open than the usual i sound in the Slavic languages and of course [i:], which in turn is a bit like a diphthong.
    So, 'leave' is long AND CLOSED, while live is short AND OPEN.

    Also have a look at this:
    BBC Learning English | Pronunciation Tips

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