some pronunciation links

I'm still trying to get a project done during my limited computer time. I can type with a sleeping baby on my chest, but not with a wakeful baby...and sometimes (ok, nearly constantly) one needs to use sleeping-baby time for laundry and sterili{s/z}ing and (joy of joys!) sleeping. So, the blog has been suffering. I miss (northern AmE) you guys.

So, as a placeholder until my next bit of blogging time, here are a couple of links that were pointed out to me this week.

First, an academic link. Linguists at the University of Edinburgh have put together a website called Sound Comparisons that allows you to hear the sounds of a variety of English accents from around the native-English-speaking world. You can either click on a region/dialect and get the full set of sounds for that dialect, or you can click on a word and see/listen to all of the different pronunciations of that word. I'm sure this site will come in handy for future discussions here.

Second, a fairly silly link: the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre has a Doctor Who-themed video that plays a bit on the spelling/pronunciation confusions that are possible in non-rhotic dialects --as we've discussed before. For you to discuss: do the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets have Scottish accents?


  1. "You guys" = 'you (pl.)' can probably now be called younger BrE. My stepson, now 38, who has had little face-to-face contact with North Americans, uses it unselfconsciously addressing his mother and me.

  2. The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets do indeed have Scottish accents. They sound eastern Scottish to me. They are also pretty funny, in my opinion.

  3. I know you got to the Dr. Who take-off from the Torchwood one I sent to you. Question: why did you choose Scottish dialect from Dr. Who instead of Welsh dialect from Torchwood? :)


  4. Because the Torchwood one didn't make a postvocalic 'r' joke!

    I was wondering about the Scottish puppets' Scottish accents because it seemed to me that someone with a Scottish accent wouldn't have a 'Dalek/Darlek' confusion, since Scottish accents are typically rhotic. I believe that the comedian who "assists" the puppets (Kev F. Sutherland) doesn't have a Scottish accent.

  5. Yes I wondered about that too, but I decided to go for the willing suspension of disbelief. Besides, up here we are so used to seeing TV make puns which just are not puns in a Scottish accent that we tend to get what they mean and there really isn't anything particularly exceptional about that. And then there's "Scottish RP"...

  6. I have a question about non-postvocalic Rs. I sometimes hear English people pronounce the Rs in words like 'reason' or 'dream' in way that, to my AmE ears, sounds half way between an R and a W. So "tree" would probably sound half way between an American "tree" and an American "twee" (if an American would ever say it). Also, I don't think any Australians would do this.

    Is this a known thing, or am I just making it up? If it is known, what is known about what kind of people do it? My feeling is that it's more common in younger Southerners, but that could just be because they're who I tend to hear.

  7. Yes. Although they quite strongly resemble the Reeves and Mortimer characters Donald and Davey Stott, who were supposed to be Geordies.

  8. I sometimes hear English people pronounce the Rs in words like 'reason' or 'dream' in way that, to my AmE ears, sounds half way between an R and a W.

    Yes, a minority of English people use a labiodental approximant for that sound. I was just about to launch into an explanation of this, complete with a recommendation to look up Jonathan Ross on youtube, but fortunately I did a search first and someone at the BBC saved me the trouble:

  9. Thanks for saving me the trouble, Jill!

  10. We've missed YOU, too, but completely understand.

    I have to tell you a "you guys" story. Although I was born in Oklahoma, I spent my junior high and high school years in Southern Illinois. I picked up "you guys" while living there. (In comparison, my younger brother, who spent those same years in Texas, will say "ya'll" until the day he dies, I'm sure!) I made a trip to my Internist (UK "GP") in Houston before moving over to the UK in 2002. I knew the office staff well...and when I walked in, I said, "How are you guys doing?" (they were all female). One of them looked up, chuckling, and said something about knowing the part of the country I'd grown up in by my use of that expression.

    I used it by accident during a class I was teaching in Singapore last month. The 3 women in the class (all Chinese) looked at me in confusion/horror. I had to quickly explain the term...and apologize profusely!!!


  11. I've definitely heard people saying 'you guys' in BrE, although not frequently. I can't say I like it.

  12. BrE, Scot, mid 60s. Re Jill, tree/twee and Jonathon Ross. JR did a film critic programme. Very tongue-in-cheek, he said something like “ X thought that Rene Russo was awful in Y. Well, that’s easy for him to say”.

    I recently heard two American tourists (female, probably fifties) bemoan the current gender-neutral use of “guy” - Guys and Dolls was used as part of the argument. Personally, I tend to use “guys” as a useful gender neutral plural for starting e-mails. However, can’t bring myself to drop the hyphen in e-mail.


The book!

View by topic



AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)