M. (A-ring) wrote:

>>From: Christian Thalmann <[log in to unmask]>
>>Here are some "recipes" to learn /y/ and /2/:
>>/y/:  Round your lips as if saying "oo", but instead say "ee" (without
>>       unrounding the lips!).  That should do the trick.
>>/2/:  Round your lips as if saying "oh", but instead say "ay" (without
>>       unrounding the lips, and if possible without the offglide
>>       towards y or w.

>With all respect, I've always found those "try to say X but say Y instead"
>instructions rather confusing - just how I'm supposed to do *that*?

That's because they're aimed at a native speaker of English (hopefully
British or American), who may not yet have managed to disconnect Engl.
spelling from phonemics/phonetics.  "ay" is what we so quaintly call "long
a", that is /ey/ [e(I)], and "ee" is our "long e" /iy/ [i(j)].  It might
have been clearer to have said "...the vowel of _great, mate, say, etc._,
but no matter. (Australians need not comment.;-)

(FWIW, years ago, pre-phonetics, instructions identical to Christian's
enabled me to produce [y] and [] for the first time. It was one of those
_Oh wow! so that's how they do it!!_ moments, which led to the immediate
discovery that _any_ vowel could be rounded/unrounded at will.)

>Should anyone else have similar difficulties, my woolhead version of /2/,
>for example, would be "say /o::/ and move your tongue forwards, keeping
>everything else carefully in the same place" or "say /e::/ and round your

Your instructions, OTOH, would be appropriate for e.g. a Spanish speaker,
whose /e/ is actually [e] etc.-- although many beginners in phonetics might
not understand the idea of "moving the tongue forward", since they often
aren't aware of what their tongues are doing, or how to move it around.

I imagine a German (or Finnish) neophyte would intuitively understand the
relationship between [u] and [y], [o] and [2] because of the orthography u -
 etc., but would the average Frenchman??

In my _second_ phonetics course (after the basics) the first assignment was
to turn in a precise phonetic rendering of the phrase "romantic songs", both
symbolic and descriptive, (this was mainly for the prof's information, to
see just exactly how good/bad we were......).  The variation in answers was
amazing.   Another instructor (on the subject of fast-speech rules) asked
for a transcription of a 2-3 sentence, informal, passage that included "Can
you get me a can of beer?"-- a substantial minority missed the difference
between verb "can" [kn=] and noun "can" [k_h&n].....
>On the subject, is there any tricks for how to better hear the difference
>between spoken sounds - in addition of listening the sound files over and
>over again?

Do you mean, in connected speech?  That's hard.  If you ask the person to
repeat, you won't necessarily get the same thing again! If you ask them to
slow down, it won't be the same either. You need to tape record it, then
make a loop and listen, listen, listen.  (I used to have a little Aiwa
portable/battery machine that had a built in loop-mechanism, very nice and
excellent for field work; but no doubt technology has marched on......)