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Phonetics from blog to book

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How does a professor of phonetics fill his time after retirement? Starts writing a blog, of course. Seven years later, what does he do with some of these thousands of words of accumulated material? Turns them into a book.

How do you pronounce omega, tortoise and sloth? What about Charon, Beijing, Punjab, and Sexwale? Why were cruise ship passengers in Antigua invited to a game of “porker”? What can hymns tell us about pronunciation?

Why does the spelling correspond to different sounds in chauvinist, Spandau, gaucho, and Blaenau? How is the pronunciation of “student” changing? Which words change their pronunciation depending on whether they are nouns or verbs?

Which sounds are really, really, rare among the languages of the world? Why is the intonation of “Hi!” interesting? Search me!

John Wells is Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at UCL and author of Accents of English and the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary.

This talk is part of the Cambridge University Linguistic Society (LingSoc) series.

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