English pronunciation (foreign and native)

People who speak a language that is not “their own”, have an accent based on sounds that are easier or more difficult for them. Japanese people speak very “soft” Engrish, because there are sounds that they don’t have. It’s easy to understand, though, because they are simply modifying sounds.

Taiwan, however, teaches English with very different sounds than are “real” to US or UK listeners. “How Motch Doz Eat Coast”? How? What? You want to eat the shoreline? Actually, they’re saying “How much does it cost?” The KK English pronounciation symbols have been taught wrong in schools.

“I want to ride the boss”. This is a classic example. Do you want to have sex with your boss or do you want to ride a bus? “Boss” in Taiwan-invented English is pronounced “Bose”, to foreigners. Kofee? No, that’s “cofee”. “I boat a car.” No, you “bought” a car… Shoe-Ger is actually “sugar”…

This is not Taiwanese students’ fault. it’s the education system. Different English anywhere is correct: Australia, US, UK, etc. However, if you make something up, someone’s not going to understand it.

I used to teach English in Taiwan. I had a student who was born in Taiwan and then was sent by his parents to Singapore. He came back 5 years later and told me that something was “EEK WAK KALA”. I couldn’t understand. Finally his sister who is a bit older said “He’s saying ‘it’s white’”. Singapore people can’t say “blue”, “yellow”, or “red”, because their pronounciation is so terrible that nobody would understand them. They have to add the word “colour” to the end of any colour.
English: “White”----Singlish “Wak kala”.
English: “Red”—Singlish “Ret kala”
English “Green”–Singlish “Greek kala”
ETC.

I am not going to rant about this. But if you want to know how to correct Taiwan’s English students and their KK symbol pronounciation, I can tell you.
If you want to know why, pronounciation aside, I HATE people from Singapore, I can tell you that, too. Just ask. (I really HATE people from Singapore, but it’s not because of their pronounciation).

As English is becoming a language used around the world, I only hope I can help people understand each other and make the world better–except for people from Singapore.

(Sorry about that, you Singapore viewers).

All right, maybe I was exaggerating a bit. Don’t take this too seriously, OK? I’m sure that there are some Singapore people I might like, so let’s leave it at that…

A lot of the reason for f**ked up English pronunciation here is the damn KK phonetic system. The magazine I work for often uses the wrong pronunciation for a word, and even though I’m a native speaker with a standard accent (I was born in Michigan, lived there for 6 years, then Maryland for 12 years, then Florida for 5), they won’t change it. Yesterday I had a hissy fit about their insistence on absurd pronunciations for “merengue” and “sequins”. :unamused:

Well, those are words people should generally try to avoid saying anyway.

Out of curiosity, how did they want to pronounce them?

Ha I have a welsh uncle who says mer-in-goos for meringues. I’ve seen some Hollywood movies were the word scones has been rhymed with stones.

I think “scone” is a bit like “tomato” in that people pronounce it both ways. In my experience, you are right that pronouncing it to rhyme with “stone” is more common in the US.

[quote]The American Heritage

I think “scone” is a bit like “tomato” in that people pronounce it both ways. In my experience, you are right that pronouncing it to rhyme with “stone” is more common in the US.
[/quote]
In my experience having lived in the UK for at least 4 years of my life, I found that I always misprounounced “scone” no matter how I would say it. When I said “skoan”, people invariably corrected me, saying it should be “skonn”. When I said “skonn”, people invariably corrected me, saying it should be “skoan”. I gave up after a while - if I wanted a scone, I just pointed to it.

Usually in English when you have a word ending vowel+cons+‘e’, the first vowel is pronounced “long”. Without the final ‘e’ it’s "short. Examples being:

ate - at

cape - cap

pete - pet

Now I realize there are exceptions (there are always exceptions in English) but this is why people would tend to pronounce scone with a “long o”. Anyway, scones suck. Muffins are [i]much[/i] better…and easier to pronounce. :slight_smile:

Isn’t this a ‘Chinese’ thing? - because in Chinese it’s never this is red, this is blue, it’s always (literally) ‘this is red colour’, ‘this is blue colour’ so it carries over when they speak English as though it were transliterated Chinese. A lot of native Chinese speakers seem to do this with the colours.

I always thought merengue (the dance) was mare-en-goo, whereas meringue (the food) was mare-ang.

[quote=“daasgrrl”]
I always thought merengue (the dance) was mare-en-goo, whereas meringue (the food) was mare-ang.[/quote]
Hmmm… I always thought “merengue” was “muh RENG gay” and meringue was “muh RANG”.

[quote=“Chris”][quote=“daasgrrl”]
I always thought merengue (the dance) was mare-en-goo, whereas meringue (the food) was mare-ang.[/quote]
Hmmm… I always thought “merengue” was “muh RENG gay” and meringue was “muh RANG”.[/quote]

You’re probably right about the ‘gay’ - I’m not sure I’ve actually heard anyone say it. Really, I was just wondering whether the pronunciation quibble previously mentioned was over the dance being meant rather than the food :slight_smile:

[quote=“Chris”]
Hmmm… I always thought “merengue” was “muh RENG gay” .[/quote]

Isn’t that the nick-name of Real Marid?

[quote=“coolingtower”]People who speak a language that is not “their own”, have an accent based on sounds that are easier or more difficult for them. Japanese people speak very “soft” Engrish, because there are sounds that they don’t have. It’s easy to understand, though, because they are simply modifying sounds.

Taiwan, however, teaches English with very different sounds than are “real” to US or UK listeners. “How Motch Doz Eat Coast”? How? What? You want to eat the shoreline? Actually, they’re saying “How much does it cost?” The KK English pronounciation symbols have been taught wrong in schools.

“I want to ride the boss”. This is a classic example. Do you want to have sex with your boss or do you want to ride a bus? “Boss” in Taiwan-invented English is pronounced “Bose”, to foreigners. Kofee? No, that’s “cofee”. “I boat a car.” No, you “bought” a car… Shoe-Ger is actually “sugar”…

This is not Taiwanese students’ fault. it’s the education system. Different English anywhere is correct: Australia, US, UK, etc. However, if you make something up, someone’s not going to understand it.
[/quote]

It’s the same thing in Taiwan, hardly surprisingly. The examples you give like short i in it, au in bought, short vowel sound in sugar are problem sounds for Taiwanese because they do not exist in Chinese/Taiwanese. Shortcomings in the education system may exacerbate the situation but they are not the cause.

Meringue=French cooking pronounced as meh-rang

Merengue=Dominican Republic form of dance therefore is pronounced meh-ren-gay, often gets misspelt as meringue

Well, those are words people should generally try to avoid saying anyway.

Out of curiosity, how did they want to pronounce them?[/quote]

They wanted “merengue” pronounced with the stress on the first syllable rather than the second, and the second vowel being shorter than it should. As for “sequins”, they wanted the “i” pronounced like a long “e” … like “sequeens.” :unamused:

I think “scone” is a bit like “tomato” in that people pronounce it both ways. In my experience, you are right that pronouncing it to rhyme with “stone” is more common in the US.
[/quote]
In my experience having lived in the UK for at least 4 years of my life, I found that I always misprounounced “scone” no matter how I would say it. When I said “skoan”, people invariably corrected me, saying it should be “skonn”. When I said “skonn”, people invariably corrected me, saying it should be “skoan”. I gave up after a while - if I wanted a scone, I just pointed to it.[/quote]
Who gives a damn what they said. If they can’t figure out that it’s just a fucking biscuit with fruit in it, then they’re worthy of no attention in the first place. :raspberry:

What makes me chuckle is when adults students have told me that they want to learn to speak with such-and-such accent (i.e. American, British, Australian, etc.) They don’t seem to get it that unless you grow up in that environment from a relatively young age, you’re always going to speak English with a Taiwanese accent. My grandfather is Russian and immigrated to the States when he was 18. He is now almost 90 and still speaks English with a Russian accent.

In New Zealand scone rhymes with “on”.
I found myself correcting an American co-teacher when he mispronounced “Cambridge” as in the Cambridge test/university and places. There’s just no way English pronunciation can be totally learned phonetically.

[quote=“coolingtower”]People who speak a language that is not “their own”, have an accent based on sounds that are easier or more difficult for them.
English: “White”----Singlish “Wak kala”.
English: “Red”—Singlish “Ret kala”
English “Green”–Singlish “Greek kala”
[/quote]

As long as the speaker keeps their tongue well back and uses the fourth tone as much as possible they will be okay with their Chinglish and Singlish. :slight_smile:

I think you’re basically right LBT, although I would add that where you study can still effect your accent to some extent.

A former colleague of mine (American guy) speaks Chinese with an American accent to be sure, but you can also tell that he studied and lives in Beijing. Chinese people have told me they can hear both accents. I also have a friend here in Taiwan who grew up here but studied in Australia after college, and you can definitely hear it when she speaks English.