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The phonology (pronunciation system) of American English.

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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-03-09 11:19 PM
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The phonology (pronunciation system) of American English.
In the Germanic Languages, including English, the distinction between P, T, and K on one hand and B, D, and G is not a simple voiceless-voiced distinction as in, say, French. Instead the first set, called "fortis", are unvoiced AND aspirated (have an H-like puff of air after it) at the beginning of a syllable and have glottal reinforcement (a catch in the vocal cords) and the end of the syllable. The latter set, called "lenis" is "just" voiced.

But in some dialects, including my own Upper Midwestern one, the voicing contrast has disappeared, B, D, and G can be either voiced or unvoiced depending on the sounds surrounding them, the contrast has become purely one of aspiration/glottalization in the "fortis" plosive consonants and lack of it in the "lenis" ones.

Something I noticed while working on my Spanish pronunciation.
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ZombieNixon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-23-09 12:22 PM
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1. The prevailing trend (in American English, at any rate)
is for word-final post-vocalic voiceless consonants to adopt a more voiced, or lenis articulation. Personally, I attribute this to the inherent "voiced" quality of a vower coupled with the laziness of the tongue.

Ex. The phrase "pick it up," when said rapidly, sounds more and more like "pig id ub" unless you consciously try to articulate the voicelessness of the final consonants.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-25-09 11:06 PM
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2. I find recently that I'm constantly
correcting my pronunciation of words that end in 'ing'. I'll drop the g, then correct myself. And in the somewhat distant past I'm certain that I almost always pronounced that final g. I think I'm experience part of the shift in pronunciation that is inevitable in language, except that I'm noticing it.

I've been watching the old Alfred Hitchcock Hour (it's available through the NBC website) which were originally aired in the early 1960's and especially if I watch them in close sequence (two in a row, or at least one each three days running) I become aware that there was a slightly different accent common to the actors then that doesn't seem to exist now. It's subtle, and I'd be hard pressed to describe it accurately as I'm not a linguist, but there's a slight difference in vowels sounds and emphasis that again, I only notice if I watch several shows in close time to each other.

The shift in American accents is somewhat more noticeable if you go back and watch movies made before 1950. And it's not just the actors, try to find recordings of ordinary citizens from back then.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-26-09 02:54 PM
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3. Actually, "-in' " was the original pronunciation for the present participle suffix.
The -ing suffix had two origins in Old English:

The present participle ending -ende

The Gerund (verbal noun) ending -unge

by Middle English they had simplified to -in' (spelled -en, like in German) and -ing and the pronunciations began to become confused (partly because of Welsh influence, Welsh uses the same ending for both the present particle and gerund). Status-conscious middle-class Early Modern English speakers eventually settled on -ing as the "proper" pronunciation because it matched the spelling. But in reality EVERYONE except the pronunciation Nazis normally says -in'.
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