Talk:English phonemes

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This will be a list of English phonemes, with example words to show the different spelling manifestations. The accents will be useful to some learners, and they can be ignored by all. The numbers are those used in my Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Ro Thorpe 19:39, 9 November 2007 (CST)

i before e

Don't forget "i before e, except after p"! Hayford Peirce 14:18, 10 November 2007 (CST)

Weird... Ro Thorpe 15:22, 10 November 2007 (CST)
Heihei....Hayford Peirce 16:23, 10 November 2007 (CST)

Sorry, couldn't resist 'pierce'... Ro Thorpe 16:44, 16 November 2007 (CST)

Well, I know, that's why it put it in there!Hayford Peirce 16:52, 16 November 2007 (CST)


Coverage of British pronunciation is really inadequate:

  1. distinction between northern & southern a is ignored; for now I've just put a general note without trying to rearrange everything; in any case, some words depend where in the north you are
  2. the diphthong /iu/ has been totally ignored; again I've contented myself with a generl note for now
  3. the Scots still keep the old pronunciation of wh; I forget the IPA symbol

Peter Jackson 16:17, 18 November 2008 (UTC)


The /ʊə/ section seems to be nonsense. I can't believe that even Americans pronounce pure as poor rather than pyoor. The section surely mixes up words with 2 different sounds.

While I'm about it, I've never heard of a phoneme /ks/. Looks like a grapheme to me. Peter Jackson 11:47, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

Arrant nonsense, even, hehe! Even 'Merkins are as pee-yure as de driven snow when it comes to pure.... Hayford Peirce 15:35, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

You seem to have misunderstood the 'pure' section: there is no mention of 'poor'. The IPA should be /(j)ʊə(r)/ though, it's true. How about you write an article on phonemes & we move this one to English graphemes? It did after all start its life as an essay called 'The Sounds & their Spellings': I was mainly concerned with spelling & hence limited myself to the 2 standard pronunciations. Ro Thorpe 15:55, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

I haven't misunderstood what's there. What the author(s) intended I don't speculate. The heading says /ʊə(r)/ but most of the words aren't said that way. Some of them are, though: those precede by j. Some of the others depend which side of the Atlantic you're on, or possibly where in the US. There are 2 different sounds so there should be 2 different sections. The question is: what is the meaning of û? Who invented this notation anyway? The articles using it don't seem to cite a source or give an explanation, though the examples enable one to work out what it means in most cases. Peter Jackson 17:44, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

On a completely different point, this should be a subpage of English language, not a separate article. Peter Jackson 16:18, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation

See Talk:Received Pronunciation.

It says, more specifically, that the standard educated pronunciations of certain sounds have changed:

  1. /ai/ to /ʌi/
  2. /eə/ to /ɛ:

Also, "a" sounds have been normalized (I forget the phonetic symbols, but you can probably fill them in). It regards northern a's as optional RP. Peter Jackson 09:41, 14 January 2014 (UTC)


I don't pronounce Hiram this way, nor was it so pronounced in Hiram Holliday. I'm inclined to think that, when the r is between two vowels and sounded even in England, it could be in either syllable, so the triphthongal pronunciation would be optional. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:48, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

Quite right, and I've made the change, similarly for Mira and irony. Ro Thorpe (talk) 14:51, 12 February 2016 (UTC)


Half caught a BBC report this morning of Cambridge research saying Essexspeak is taking over the country. Numbers unable to pronounce th increased from 2% to 15%. Or something like that. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:12, 27 May 2016 (UTC)

Essexspeak is a sort of modernised cockney, isn't it? Like my native Saaf London? Is it the same as estuary English? Article, please! Ro Thorpe (talk) 13:14, 27 May 2016 (UTC)
I suspect it is roughly that, maybe with some modifications. On a later report they said northern short a's were unaffected by this. I have to say, though, that when I visited Newcastle last year I didn't notice any of this. Nearly everyone speaks with a northeast accent. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:17, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
Good to hear it. Ro Thorpe (talk) 21:50, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
See [1]. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:52, 23 June 2016 (UTC)