Lecture 11_General American

August 7, 2017 | Author: Walid English | Category: English Language, Oral Communication, Human Voice, Languages Of The United Kingdom, Phonology
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In fact, there are certainly many varieties of English accents, American English (AmE) and British English (BrE) are the...


Lecturer: Mr. Aounali


Mohammed Kheider University

English Department Module: English Phonetics & Phonology Lecture 11: General American & Received Pronunciation

Objective: By the end of this course you’ll be able to: 1- Recognise the Accents of English inside the UK and the USA. 2- Determine the differences between British & American English. 3- Know the differences of grammar, vocabulary and mainly pronunciation. 4- Spot out some differences in pronunciation & transcription. 5- Pronounce utterances in speech with correct pronunciation in an American or a British accent to some extent.

General Introduction: While there are certainly many varieties of English accents, American English (AmE) and British English (BrE) (1) are the two varieties that are taught in most ESL/EFL programs. Generally, it is agreed that no one version is "correct". The most important rule is to try to be consistent in your usage. If you decide that you want to use American English spellings and pronunciation then be consistent, this is of course not always easy, also the same for British English. RP has been for many years the accent of British English usually chosen for the purposes of

description and teaching, in spite of the fact that it is only spoken by a small minority of the population; it is also known as the "public school" accent, and as "BBC pronunciation". The roots of RP emerged in 20th century in London region and the Home counties lying around London within 60 miles: Middlesex, Essex, Kent, Surrey. The educated Americans speak General American accent (GA), also known as Northern American: Spoken mainly in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin and others. GA pronunciation is known to be the standard pronunciation of the USA. There are some reasons for it.

GA is the form of speech used by the radio and television. It is mostly used in scientific, cultural and business fields. Also in two important business centres – New York and St. Louis GA is the prevailing form of speech and pronunciation, though New York is situated within the territory where Eastern American is spoken, and St. Louis is within the region of Southern American.

1. Atlas of English Accents in the US and the UK

RP/BBC English implicitly enjoys the status of the national standard of pronunciation in the UK. Roughly speaking the non-RP accents of England may be grouped into many variants like this: 1. Southern accents, such as Greater London, Hampshire, Kent, Essex, Buckinghamshire. 2. East Anglia accents, like Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire. 3. South-West accents, like Gloucestershire, Avon, Somerset, Wiltshire.

4. Northern and Midland accents, like Northumberland, Durham, Cleveland; Yorkshire accents.

In American English, three main types of literary/cultivated pronunciation are distinguished: 1. General American (Gen Am, GA) / Network English also known as Western American & comprises the majority of American accents from Ohio through the Middle West to the Pacific. 2. Eastern American including (i) Boston and eastern New England, and (ii) New York City. 3. Southern American includes accents of lowland south: Virginia, North and South Carolinas, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, etc. 4. Western American: it is widespread in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, etc.

2- Systematic Differences in Spelling between GA and RP: 1. In words of Greek origin, BrE has oe, ae whereas AmE are spelt without o, a: British English

American English

British English

American English

Anaemia, Caesar Anemia, Cesar







2. A certain number of disyllabic words when stressed on the second syllable, they are written in British English with a single –ll , but in American English with –l. British English

American English

Traveller, jeweller, patrolling, cancelled.

Traveler, jeweler, patroling, canceled.

3- Words ending in -or (AmE) -our for (BrE) colo(u)r, humo(u)r, flavor(u)r , behavior(u)r, favo(u)r… 4- Words ending in -ize (AmE) -ise for (BrE) recognize, recognise, patronize, analyze, realize, etc. 5- Words ending in -ter (AmE) -tre for (BrE) as center, centre, theater, theatre, liter, litre, meter, metre. 6-The ending -ce in GA is contrasted with -se lin RP like (defence, pretence, licence and practice as nouns, but in RP (defense, pretense, license) also practise for verbs.

3- Differences between GA and RP in terms of grammar : 1.Prepositions & verbs: American English use -on the weekend while in British English -at the weekend.

American English use -please write me soon, whereas British English -please write to me soon.

Irregular verbs: Burnt or burned, dreamt or dreamed, leant or leaned, learnt or learned, smelt or smelled, spelt or spelled, spilt or spilled, spoilt or spoiled, leapt or leaped, lit or lighted, got / gotten.

2. Differences in grammar: 2.1. Use of the Present Perfect: I have lost my pen (BrE). I lost my pen (AmE). He has just gone home (BrE). He just went home (AmE)

2.2. Adverbs: He has probably arrived now (BrE). He probably has arrived now. (AmE).

4. Differences in Vocabulary: RP







Bank notes





Petrol/ fuel station

Gas station













Postbox/ postman

Mailbox/ mailman





(for computing program)











Trainers (shoes)





(French) fries


Trash/ Garbage



5. Pronunciation & Stress Differences: .

1. The transcription of the diphthong /əʊ/ in RP is /oʊ / in GA: Show /ʃəʊ/ vs /ʃoʊ/, go /gəʊ/ vs /goʊ/

2. British English (RP) is non-rhotic accent while American English (GA) is a rhotic accent. In RP, the /r/ is pronounced only when it is intervocalic; but in GA, it is pronounced everywhere.i.e /ti:tʃɚ/ 3. The transcription & pronunciation of /r/ in mid-position is different; in RP it’s not pronounced whereas in (GA) it is heard. E.g: Learn in (RP) /lɜ:n/ but in (GA) /lɝ:n/ & Hard /ha:d/ vs /ha:rd/ 4. The pronunciation of /ɒ/ in British English (RP) mostly becomes long vowel /ɑː/ in (GA). Such as: Complex /ˈkɒmpleks/ vs /ˈkɑːmpleks/ ; Shot /ʃɒt/ vs /ʃɑːt/ ; From /frɒm/ vs /frɑːm/ 5. The pronunciation of /ɑː/ in (RP) becomes /æ/ in (GA). E.g. half /hɑ:f/ vs /hæf/ , /fɑ:st/ vs /fæst/ laugh /lɑ:f/ vs /læf/ , dance /dɑ:ns/ vs /dæns/ , class /klɑ:s/ vs /klæs/ , can’t /kɑ:nt/ vs /kænt/.

6. Dropping [j]: in the combination of [j]+[u:] after /t, s, d, n/ which will be pronounced in (GA) as /u:/ and in (RP) as /ju:/. Such as: duke /du:k/, tube /tu:b/, news /nu:z/, student, suit /su:t/, assume. 7. The pronunciation of the voiceless plosive /t/ in (RP) becomes voiced /t/ in (GA) when it occurs in intervocalic position and becomes like /d/ or flap / t̬ /. /t/ sounds like a quick English /d/, and or like the /r/ of some languages. e.g. city, better, latest, party. Thus, latter / ladder, writer / rider.

8. When /t/ comes after /n/ in (GA), we can optionally omit /t/ sound, for instance: winter, twenty 9. The (RP) diphthongs /Iə/, /eə/, /Uə/, tends to drop the schwa /ə/ in (GA) which are transcribed as /Ir/, /er/, /Ur/, respectively. Like year /jIə/ vs /jIr/; & where /weə/ vs /wer/ ; & poor /pUə/ vs /pUr/ 10. Words like apparatus, data, status, are pronounced in GA with either /æ/ but only as /eI/ in RP. 11. Some words have first-syllable stress in GA whereas in RP the stress will be elsewhere.

(verb) ate /et/ (RP) /eIt/ (GA)

Advertisement (RP) /@d"v3:[email protected]/ vs (GA) /%{[email protected]`"[email protected]/ the same for laboratory, necessarily, ordinarily, voluntarily, laboratory, dictionary, secretary .

12. In (GA) the phoneme /Z/ is used in final unstressed syllables ending with -ion or -ia instead of /S/ as in (RP). Such as: Asia /'eIZə/, excursion /Ik"sk3` :[email protected]/ , version /"v3` :[email protected]/, in contrast to (RP) pronunciation with /ʃ/: Asia/'eISə/, excursion /Ik"sk3:[email protected]/, version /"v3`:[email protected]/ Neither /"`nAIDər/ RP /"`ni:Dər/ GA Forever /fə"revə/ RP /fO:r"[email protected]`"/ GA

Time For Practice: Exercise: Transcribe the following sentences when it is: 1- Spoken by a GA Speaker 2- Spoken by an RP Speaker 1- Forty-five years after the end of World War II, the U.S defeated the USSR. …………………………………………..………………………... ………………………………………………...………………….. 2- The president tomorrow morning will propose new reforms to health care. ……………………………………………………..……………… …………………………………………………………..………… 3-

I’m taking American Accent Class. There's a lot to learn, but I hope to be pretty easy.

…………………………………………………………………….. ……………………………………………………………………..

Thanks very much for your attention

Throughout the whole academic year Wish you more success 1- Wells J. C. (1982) Accents of English. Cambridge University Press,. Volumes 1, 2, 3. 685p. 2- Gimson, A.C. (2001) The Pronunciation of English. 6th edition. Revised by Alan Cruttenden. London, New York: Edward Arnold.339p. 3- Celce-Murcia M., Brinton D., Goodwin J. Teaching Pronunciation: A Reference for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge University Press, 196. 428p. 4- Brown, G. (1990) Listening to Spoken English. 2nd Edition, Longman. 5- Lujan, B. (1999) The American Accent, Lingual Arts. 6- Wolfram, W. and Schilling-Estes, N. (1998) American English: Dialects and Variation, Language in Society, Volume 25. 7- Van Riper, C. and Smith, D. (1992) Introduction to General American Phonetics, Waveland Press.

Appendix of Dialects & Accents

Detailed diagram of English accents and dialects in the USA

View more...


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