Regional variations in pronunciation

I’ve been thinking recently about whether I should adapt outlines to the way I actually pronounce words rather than the way the Simplified manual indicates.
I’ve already done it with ‘schedule’, which Brits pronounce ‘shedule’ rather than ‘skedule’.
Now I’m wondering about the oo hook. In Lesson 22 of the Simplified manual, it says the hook is used to represent the sound in new, due, avenue, amuse, reduce and issue.
Now here’s the problem: new, due, avenue and reduce I’d pronounce with the same u sound as amuse (as opposed to the American noo, doo, avenoo, and redooce – pardon the non-IPA rendering!). But no American would say amoose for amuse, would they? So I’m not the only one encountering inconsistency here.
But now a thought’s just occurred to me: perhaps they were all pronounced with the same u sound as in amuse (with the exception of issue) in the 1950s, when the manual was written. I heard an old recording of Eleanor Roosevelt the other day, and I was struck by how ‘English’ she sounded, complete with ‘yoo’ instead of ‘oo’ sounds .
I suppose what I’m trying to do here is fix in my mind the outline for a sound, so I can write any word that has that sound. So if I encountered ‘duty’ for the first time ever, I’d either write ‘d u t i’ or ‘d e u t i’ without hesitation. The way I talk, the ‘u’ of ‘duty’ is the same as ‘amuse’. So if I write ‘d u t i’ I’m writing something I’m not hearing. On the other hand, so are most Americans, as the ‘d’ and the ‘t’ are virtually indistinguishable, so they’re heading ‘d u d i’ but writing ‘d u t i’.  (I remember a funny conversation I had once with a guy from Texas who was talking about a ‘writer’, but I heard ‘rider’. I mentally imagined a cowboy, which was the last thing on his mind.)
There’s the same problem with the aspirated w (while, whale, whether) which isn’t aspirated on this side of the Atlantic any more, so I’ve been leaving off the dot.
What do you think? Should I just go with the flow and do what the manual says?

(by kevinwal for everyone)

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24 comments Add yours
  1. There are Americans who pronounces the EU instead of just the U: This seems to depend not only on generation but also on the part of the country. The EU would probably prevail in the eastern US.   There is corrollary to this  in my use in medical Gregg. The outline for kidney should be k-short i-d-n-e. I found the abrupt angle between the d and the n to be awkward, so I modified it to a den blend. Even if someone read the den blend as 'den', it would still be comprehensible as 'ki-den-ey."

  2. This seems to be inconsistent, indeed.  In my case, for the short or frequent words, I would memorize the outline just as taught in the book, because I know I would find it later somewhere.  Remember that you will also be reading shorthand more and more, so it's important that the correct outline sticks in the brain to avoid confusion.  Later on, for your own writing, you can change what you want.  If during dictation I encounter one word that I need to write on the fly and I haven't written it before, then I would write it as I hear it.  In those cases, as long as you can transcribe what you wrote, it doesn't matter. 

  3. Chuck said that very well.  If you plan on reading more shorthand textbooks or whatever else was written in shorthand, then you want to know the outline.  If you change it without memorizing the outline originally, then you will have trouble reading the text. Debbi

  4. A question about this subject. In what region specifically the "h" is pronounced in "wh" words? Because I met a teacher, and she is Chilean, and she does pronounce "h" in "wh"; and when an American native teacher met her, was surprised (in a bad way) about her speaking, saying:  what awful pronunciation she has!!   VALO

  5. >  Chuck said that very well.  If you plan on reading more shorthand textbooks or whatever else was written in shorthand, then you want to know the outline.  If you change it without memorizing the outline originally, then you will have trouble reading the text. Debbi >   Debbi – yes, I agree with you. I've now decided not to modify outlines for just that reason. Otherwise, I'll have my own Simplified dialect, which is probably not a very good idea   Kevin

  6. True.

    Now, as far as Gregg shorthand is concerned, the "h" dot is considered as a diacritic sign, like all dots in any system. You are free to use it or not at high speed. It helps resolving conflicts, though, as in heat / eat.

  7. Lieutenant's a weird one. The correct British pronunciation is 'leftenant', but nowadays you're as likely to hear people use the US pronunciation, thanks to the influence of TV.  In fact, more and more people are saying 'skedule' instead of 'shedule' too.

  8. I don't think it is a matter of region, but a matter of taste. I checked one of my diction books (Fundamentals of Voice and Diction, by Lyle B. Mayer), and it states that in Old English, words that start with wh used to be spelled as hw (for example, whale was hw챈l, where was hw챈r, whistle was hwistlian, and so forth). That's the origin of the pronunciation of the h. Although in fast speech we don't pronounce the h, some people prefer to articulate it in slow speech, perhaps because they are more concerned with "finesse and precision" in the articulation. This is particularly true in actors, speakers, and readers. Others say "how would you distinguish between weather and whether?", to what we say "by context, of course". According to the book, both styles of pronunciation (with or without h) are perfectly acceptable. Use it if you wish.

  9. Here is more on the [u] vs [ju] "controversy". There are some "rules":

    1. If the word is spelled as "oo", we use the [u] sound.
    (examples: food, boot, mood, loot)
    2. If the preceeding consonant sound to the vowel is [s], [z], [l]. or [th], we use the simple vowel.
    (examples: suit, Luke, Zeus, enthusiasm)
    3. If the preceeding consonant sound to the vowel is [p], [b], [k], [g], [f], [v], and [m], we use the diphthong [ju].
    (examples: pure, acute, argue, butte, fuse, view)
    4. For any other consonant, you can use either sound. So words like new, due, avenue, student, duty, etc, you can pronounce as [u] or [ju].

  10. Regional pronunciations, indeed. In Ontario, where I was raised, at least in the small towns, we did differentiate between "wh" and "w." And lieutenant was always pronounced, "leftenant." I now live in BC, and get funny looks for not saying "lutenant." And my daughter was taught in school that there is no difference between "wh" and "w"–though I must admit that the teacher came from the northwestern States, and so probably brought in her variants. If nothing else, in BC, "wh"ing gets a bit of a glance, as if to say, "aren't you snooty?!" the same way that differentiating between "will" and "shall" does. Why can't we spell phonetically, as in shorthand. It would make life a lot easier!   Jim   BTW, I'm a Salvation Army officer and was commissioned a "leftenant" after being trained by a "curnel." Why must English spelling be so perverse?

  11. I like Chuck's expression–"write on the fly" Makes me think of "Flywriting"–what a thrill/skill! Those of us who learned to read phonetically, as opposed to "sight-reading" learned to aspirate wh. We diffentiate between wear and where this way. I am 44 and from the Northwest. I have also also taught reading as an adult. I belive in a diction, or possibly in a speech class, you will learn to pronounce wh and w distinctly. It is interesting to hear about the difference between American and British pronunciation. What I am unfamiliar with in American pronunciation is the difference between o, aw, a. I thought they were all the same. As in hot, hawk, ball, stalk, etc. Shorthand seems to differentiate and sometimes uses o hook and sometimes a circle. I have seen this distinction in some phonics methods, but the one I learned was "simplified" I guess.   Priscilla  

  12. Valo – I say 'forid' for 'fore-head', but lots of people don't.  It's like 'often', which always used to be pronounced 'offen', but is increasingly being pronounced 'of-ten'.  And I hear lots of people here in the UK pronouncing 'says' to rhyme with 'rays' rather than 'sez'.   I saw somewhere that 'lieutenant' is pronounced 'leftenant' because a lieutenant was 'left as the tenant' of a property. Not sure how much truth there is in that story – seems a bit too convenient to be true.   Incidentally, if you're a language nut (as most of us seem to be) I'd highly recommend the book I'm reading at the moment – 'Spoken Here' by Mark Abley. It's all about minority languages that are in danger of extinction or that are being revived. It's addictive 🙂

  13. I think that the British pronunciation "leftenant" is as old as the word itself. It has been attested since the thirteenth century, when it was borrowed from the Old French expression "tenant lieu" or "leu", as a Picard variant, meaning a substitute. The lieu-tenant replaced the commander in his absence.

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