Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

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HifaMo

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Hi,

Is fire and fee a minimal pair?

I think they are because one has a pure vowel and the other has a triphthong.

Thanks.
 
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5jj

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No. Fee can be half of a minimal pair only if the other half also contains a monophthong.

This is not correct. Sorry. See post #9
 
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BobK

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:up: 'Minimal' - geddit? Only one point of difference, like sigh and fie (an archaic expression of exasperation). ;-)

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HifaMo

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No. Fee can be half of a minimal pair only if the other half also contains a monophthong.
I understood that a word that contains a monophthong can make a minimal pair with only a word that contains a monophthong.
And the same goes for words that contain diphthongs.
For example, bee and bay are not a minimal pair.
Am I correct?

Thanks.
 

BobK

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I defer to my learned colleague, who has studied this stuff more recently than I. But I'd say that, based on the definition in #1, you seem to be right.

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HifaMo

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I understood that a word that contains a monophthong can make a minimal pair with only a word that contains a monophthong.
And the same goes for words that contain diphthongs.
For example, bee and bay are not a minimal pair.
Am I correct?

Thanks.
Please, I am still waiting.
 

5jj

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HifaMo

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No. Fee can be half of a minimal pair only if the other half also contains a monophthong.
According to the above statement, two words are minimal pair if they contain the same type vowels.
So, /fɪə/ and /fiː/ are not minimal pair because one contains a monophthong the other a diphthong.
However, here is an example of a list that shows the opposite.
Vowel contrast kick versus cake

Please, correct me.

 

5jj

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Please, correct me.
There is no need. I gave incorrect information in post #2. Sorry:oops:. I must have been half asleep.

Although the diphthongs are a glide from one vowel to a second, they are classed as phonemes in English (as are the consonants /ʧ/ and /ʤ/). Fie (/faɪ/) and fee (/fi:/) are therefore a minimal pair. However, fire and fee are not a minimal pair because, for most speakers, fire (/ˈfaɪə(r)/ has two syllables.
 

lsah3

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However, fire and fee are not a minimal pair because, for most speakers, fire (/ˈfaɪə(r)/ has two syllables.

Maybe in some North American accents, but certainly not in RP. It's /faɪ̯ə(r)/ not */ˈfaɪ̯.ə(r)/, that's why it's often smoothered to [fäə̯~fäː]. Were it disylabic, it wouldn't be so common - smoothering is rarer across syllable boundaries.

I temporarily don't have my LPD (my friend borrowed it), but Cambridge dictionary shows an one syllable pronunciation in both RP and GA. What's more, it doesn't show the primary accent sign, and it does so only when the word has... one syllable. Merriam-Webster also says this word has one syllable. So does the "Oxford Dictionaries" site. So I'm afraid you're wrong, at least about RP and GA.

So, to answer the OP's question - yes, those are minimal pairs.
 

5jj

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So I'm afraid you're wrong, at least about RP and GA
Please do not tell me I am wrong about the accent (RP) I have spoken for much of my life.

Peter Roach's Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (2003) gives it as /faɪə*/ (my asterisk stands for Roach's superscript r). Roach gives /faɪɚ/ for the American pronunciation.

John Wells's Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2008) gives it as /ˈfaɪə/ (the I is italicised in the LPD. This, with the ◡ symbol, indicates possible compression into /fajə/). Wells gives /ˈfaɪ*r/ (this time the asterisk stands for Wells's superscript schwa) for the American.

Cruttenden (2001) writes that the /aɪə/ of 'fire' may be smoothed into /aːə/ . He also notes that i the diphthongal pronunciation /ɑ:ə/ is sometimes reduced to a long monophthong /aː/ in refined RP and some other accents such as Cockney and Liverpool. As I pointed out to you in another thread, Upton (2004) described Refined RP as "[o]utmoded and, when heard (typically in old movies and newsreel commentaries) attracting amused comment". The Cockney and Liverpool dialects are not generally regarded as standard English.

In most varieties of British English, fire and fee are not a minimal pair.

ps, Even if one regards Roach's transcription as that of a monosyllabic pronunciation, triphthongs are not regarded as phonemes in British English.
 
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lsah3

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Right, but which dictionary says fire has two syllables? You haven't quite proved me wrong, actually you've proved yourself wrong - LPD does use a syllabic mark [.], so it's another source saying "one syllable, not two".
 

5jj

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Right, but which dictionary says fire has two syllables?
Well, the LPD for one.
You haven't quite proved me wrong, actually you've proved yourself wrong - LPD does use a syllabic mark [.], so it's another source saying "one syllable, not two".
I don't understand what you mean here. As Wells explains on page xxvii, "Syllable divisions are shown in LPD by spacing." There is no [.] in the LPD entry for 'fire', but there is a primary stress marker (ˈ) before the first syllable.
 
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lsah3

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Maybe I remember it wrong but, don't other entries have [.], like in the software version? Like this: http://www.antimoon.com/how/dictionaries/cepd-shot.png if they do (I'm almost sure about it - why would the software and book present different transcriptions?), then LPD is yet another dictionary proving the one syllable pronunciation.
 

5jj

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Maybe I remember it wrong but, don't other entries have [.], like in the software version?
No. I told you in my last post how syllable division is shown in the LPD. I had the book open at that page as I typed the words.
Like this: http://www.antimoon.com/how/dictionaries/cepd-shot.png if they do (I'm almost sure about it - why would the software and book present different transcriptions?),
I don't see the point of that link. It led me to what looked like something from Cambridge
then LPD is yet another dictionary proving the one syllable pronunciation.
Did you not read the entry that I typed from the LPD? It shows the word as two syllables, the first of which is stressed. It does also show the possibility of compression. However, the number of syllables is not directly relevant to the question of minimal pairs.

Most American English dialects are rhotic. As the /r/ is pronounced, 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
Most English English dialects are non-rhotic. The /r/ is not pronounced (except when followed by a vowel), but the sound following /f/ is a triphthong. Whether one considers a tripthong to be one or two syllables does not change the fact that triphthongs are not phonemes in British English, so 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.

I have just looked through a few online dictionaries, not all of which use the same symbols. I have added my comments in blue

Collins: faɪə (tripthong)
MacMillan (American): /faɪr/(triphthong)
MacMillan (British): /
ˈfaɪə(r)/ (triphthong)
Merriam-Webster:
\ˈfī(-ə)r\ (/r/ pronounced)
Cambridge
ALD: Br: /faɪə*/ (* =superscript r) (triphthong); US: /faɪr/ (/r/ pronounced)
Oxford
Online: : /ˈfʌɪə/ (triphthong)

By now I expect that everybody else has given up on this thread. I shall stop too. I don't think I have anything fresh to add to what I have already said.
 

Tdol

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I don't want to get too involved in this discussion, but would say that I am a BrE RP speaker well into middle age and I do pronounce fire with two syllables, but YMMV.
 

BobK

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Reminds me of a Deep South Nativity play, in which the three kings wore fireman's helmets. Asked why, the schoolmarm quoted the Bible: 'Three wise men came from afar'.

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lsah3

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I don't see the point of that link. It led me to what looked like something from Cambridge
If it wasn't forced onto newcomers to have their posts first approved by the moderator and only then you can edit them I'd fix it faster.

Whether one considers a tripthong to be one or two syllables does not change the fact that triphthongs are not phonemes in British English, so 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
It depends on the analysis. For example, this document considers these phonemes (or at least doesn't say anything about them not being phonemes): http://www.liu.se/ikk/english/files...06147/CompendiumVowelsConsonantsofEnglish.pdf . Wikipedia also says:

Wikipedia said:
English in British Received Pronunciation (monosyllabic triphthongs with R are optionally distinguished from sequences with disyllabic realizations)- [aʊ̯ə̯] as in hour (compare with disyllabic "plougher" [aʊ̯.ə])
- [aɪ̯ə̯] as in fire (compare with disyllabic "higher" [aɪ̯.ə])
- [ɔɪ̯ə̯] as in "loir" (compare with final disyllabic sequence in "employer" [ɔɪ̯.ə])

John Wells says on his page:

John Wells said:
There are also the sequences to be heard in words such as fire, power, which some people analyse as triphthongs: they are represented by the diphthong symbols as in price, mouth plus schwa. Some authors recognize other similar sequences as well (player, slower...), but there really seems to be no need to list them separately.

So, essentialy - if you want them to be one syllable, they are. If you feel that they are disylabic - they are. We have to agree to disagree, because both of us are right and yet noone is. There isn't a "better" analysis in this case.
 

lsah3

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By now I expect that everybody else has given up on this thread. I shall stop too. I don't think I have anything fresh to add to what I have already said.
I don't think it was appropriate to not approve my first reply to this message though. If you want to not answer, fine, but censorship is childish. I assume it was indeed not approved on purpose, because I posted it about 30-36 hours ago, you were active plenty of time during that time and it still didn't appear. Thinking I wasn't going to suss it and re-post the message was kind of naive. I'm therefore going to bypass the necessity of you approving this post by altering the links, to make sure that this one will be visible.

To make them quickly go back to their original form, simply paste them in the Notepad, press Ctrl+H and in the "find what" field type "DOT", and in the one below type ".". Do the same with "SLASH" and "/", and there's your link, ready to be used.

Back on topic.

Most American English dialects are rhotic. As the /r/ is pronounced, 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
Most English English dialects are non-rhotic. The /r/ is not pronounced (except when followed by a vowel), but the sound following /f/ is a triphthong. Whether one considers a tripthong to be one or two syllables does not change the fact that triphthongs are not phonemes in British English, so 'fire' and 'fee' cannot be a minimal pair.
According to your analysis. Apparently I was wrong too to say that they "are", they are according to me and some phoneticians. It turns out that if you want them to be phonemes, they are. If not, they aren't. The rest of the post clarifies this statement.

Take a look at this: phonetic-blogDOTblogspotDOTcomSLASH2009SLASH12SLASHtriphthongs-anyoneDOThtml , particularly this quote:
John Wells quoting Peter Roach said:
To add to the difficulty, there is also the problem of whether a triphthong is felt to contain one or two syllables. Words such as ‘fire’ or ‘hour’ are probably felt by most English speakers (with BBC pronunciation) to consist of only one syllable, whereas ‘player’ /pleɪə/ or ‘slower’ /sləʊə/ are more likely to be heard as two syllables.
Feel and hear as are pretty subjective.

In comments there's more interesing stuff, for example Peter Roach contradicting himself a bit:

Peter Roach said:
In talking of triphthongs, I make no claim that these have some special status as vocalic units in English phonology. I state quite clearly that they are sequences of certain diphthongs and a following schwa.

But there's also this site: wwwDOTphonDOTuclDOTacDOTukSLASHhomeSLASHwellsSLASHipa-english-uniDOThtm

John Wells said:
There are also the sequences to be heard in words such as fire, power, which some people analyse as triphthongs: they are represented by the diphthong symbols as in price, mouth plus schwa. Some authors recognize other similar sequences as well (player, slower...), but there really seems to be no need to list them separately.
That pretty much ends the discussion. Both of us were wrong and right at the same time.

I still prefer the analysis that consider them separate phonemes, but I won't insist anymore that this is the only correct analysis, and neither should you - because it is not true.
 

Tdol

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Isah3, you can post links now- the software just blocks the first few posts to reduce spam and advertising.
 
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