On 1/21/07, Leon Lin <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello,
> These have been confusing me to the point that I start to try to figure them
> out in public. People sometimes stare at me when I repeat a phoneme/word
> over and over again.
> 1. Is it possible to distinguish two final unreleased consanants? i.e. Is
> there a sound difference between "back there" and "bat there"

Yes, although the difference is obviously less clear than between the
released sounds. The formants of the vowel still change as the
tongue/lips/articulator moves further forwards/back/close/whatever.

> 2. I have heard some people call words with syllabic consanants like
> "button" a 'nasal release'. Isn't this just a glottal stop followed by an /n/?
> 3. Is stress also accompanied by a raise in pitch (in English)?

An important componant of English stress is marked the change in
pitch. It's normally a high pitch, but for contrastive etc. purposes
it may be low. The stressed syllable is also longer. Though it seems
intuitive, changes of volume are much less significant, if present at

> === If you speak Mandarin ===
> When I went to China, some of my cousins said my very Mandarin was very
> accurate and without accent.  I wonder if that's true...
> 1. Do voiced plosives and affricates exist in Mandarin? After some thought,
> it seems that pinyin /b d g z j zh/ are just unaspirated versions of /p t k
> c q ch/. Maybe that's why other Romanization systems have a lot of unvoiced
> consanants, as in the name of the Taiwanese city Kaohsiung (pinyin
> Gaoxiong). Or maybe its both voiced and unaspirated and it sounds unvoiced
> because there aren't unaspirated voiced plosives (are there?) in English...

I don't speak Mandarin, but...
Mandarin contrasts voiceless unaspirated and voiceless aspirated.
English contrasts two series which depending on your dialect mutually
contrast voice and aspiration. Having spent first semester last year
trying to master the voiced~voiceless contrast in both perception and
production, I (an Australian) can quite confidently say that
initially, my contrast is solely by aspiration. I've always found that
as far as consonants are concerned, Chinese people have much less of
an accent than say Vietnamese, French or even some Americans...

So, depending on where you come from/what dialect of English you use
and how much influence Mandarin vs other languages has had on it, it's
entirely possible that you also use only a contrast of aspiration
(initially) and that neither you nor anyone you talk to would ever
have noticed...