Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

For the discussion of language mechanics, grammar, vocabulary, trends, and other such linguistic topics, in english and other languages.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

stevenrkeyes
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:52 am UTC

Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby stevenrkeyes » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:10 am UTC

I've got a phonetics questions for you. I notice the wiktionary entry for "two" tells that the IPA pronunciation is /tu/. However, it seems to me that it's actually pronounced /tsu/ unless you're speaking really formal, imitating a British person or something. At my school, I've asked people to count the numbers 1 to 5, and it sounds like they say /tsu/ also, not /tu/. Moreover, the audio file in the wiktionary entry sounds like /tsu/ not /tu/. Am I hearing things wrong?

All of the above seems to be the same for "to" and "too" as well. I'm trying to learn IPA, and this seems like a contradiction in what I'm reading.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26765
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jun 10, 2011 1:29 pm UTC

I've never heard it pronounced /tsu/ by a native speaker. I suspect what you're hearing is the aspiration, [tʰ], or the way the /tu/ phoneme is sometimes pronounced in British varieties of English, a bit like [ʧ].
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

Makri
Posts: 654
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:57 pm UTC

Re: Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby Makri » Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:31 pm UTC

Sorry for being less subtle about this than gmalivuk, but saying that the pronunciation of something is /tu/ is actually meaningless. /.../ stands for a phonemic representation; that's not pronunciation. What you want is [...].
¬□(∀♀(∃♂(♀❤♂)⟷∃♂(♂❤♀)))

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26765
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:01 pm UTC

Right. The homophones <to>, <two>, and <too> could probably be represented as the phoneme /tu/ for every English speaker, even if the precise pronunciation of this phoneme is different in different dialects. For example, in my dialect (and most American English dialects), I pronounce /t/ at the beginning of words (e.g. "two") like [tʰ], but after an /s/ sound I drop the aspiration (as in "stew"), and it's more of a pure [t]. Between vowels, when the following one is unstressed, both /t/ and /d/ get reduced to [ɾ], as in "city" and "water".

In a more technical sense, what I'm saying is that in American English [tʰ], [t], and [ɾ] are all allophones of the single phoneme /t/.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
eSOANEM
:D
Posts: 3652
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:39 pm UTC
Location: Grantabrycge

Re: Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby eSOANEM » Fri Jun 10, 2011 5:49 pm UTC

stevenrkeyes wrote:I've got a phonetics questions for you. I notice the wiktionary entry for "two" tells that the IPA pronunciation is /tu/. However, it seems to me that it's actually pronounced /tsu/ unless you're speaking really formal, imitating a British person or something. At my school, I've asked people to count the numbers 1 to 5, and it sounds like they say /tsu/ also, not /tu/. Moreover, the audio file in the wiktionary entry sounds like /tsu/ not /tu/. Am I hearing things wrong?

All of the above seems to be the same for "to" and "too" as well. I'm trying to learn IPA, and this seems like a contradiction in what I'm reading.


I've never heard [tsu] either (or anything at all similar to it) although in those recordings on wiktionary, the aspiation is sounding a little s-like although that's probably due to the mic used.
my pronouns are they

Magnanimous wrote:(fuck the macrons)

stevenrkeyes
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:52 am UTC

Re: Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby stevenrkeyes » Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:01 am UTC

Ah, thanks very much for the explanations! As you can tell, I'm really a newbie in this field.

So, linguists use /.../ for phenomes and [...] for pronunciations? In other words, is /.../ for like dictionary pronunciations and [...] for like dialects?

It must be what many of you agree on that the aspiration makes it sound sibilant to me. Why don't other words with the /t/ phoneme, like <ten>, sound like the beginning of <two>? Does how a phoneme is pronounced depend often on the vowel behind it?

User avatar
ZLVT
Posts: 1448
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:56 pm UTC
Location: Canberra, Australia
Contact:

Re: Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby ZLVT » Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:09 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I've never heard it pronounced /tsu/ by a native speaker. I suspect what you're hearing is the aspiration, [tʰ], or the way the /tu/ phoneme is sometimes pronounced in British varieties of English, a bit like [ʧ].


It's actually palatal [tʲ] which becomes [ʧ] in less proper speech but, no-one says [tʲʉʊ] which would be tew or tue. There is however a [dʉʊ] [dʲʉʊ] [dʒʉʊ] distinction. (do due/dew jew)

To answer the question on /.../ vs [...] :
[...] refers to phones (unique sounds) while /.../ refers to phonemes (ranges of phones which the speakers of a language all agree represents the same thing like [c] and [k].)
Dictionaries will generally give words in terms of sounds that are generally accepted to exist in all English dialects like /ɹ/ but my dialect is non-rhotic so it only has /ɹ/ before vowels, never after. We know the r is there because it changes the pronunciation of the vowel before it. So if you look up the generic English pronunciation of say "bore" it'll say /bɔɹ/ but in my dialect we all know that this equates to [bɔ:]. So in my dialect law /lɔ/ and lore /lɔɹ/ are both pronounced [lɔː]. Similarly in some american dialects "cot" and "caught" are identical. There's a lot of variation in English so it's important to understand that everyone pronounces words in different but usually predictable ways. If you know a dialect well it enough ti should be possible to figure out how they would pronounce a word based on its phonemic citation.


As for the aspiration, the sound /h/ in English as in most languages is basically just breathing. It takes some of the sound of the following vowel when you say it. So when you say too, your mouth is already rounded and closed which I guess produces more frication.
22/♂/hetero/atheist/★☭/Image

Originator of the DIY ASL tags

Softfoot
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:11 am UTC
Location: Regional South Australia

Re: Pronunciation of "two", "to", "too" as /tsu/ or /tu/

Postby Softfoot » Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:42 am UTC

stevenrkeyes wrote:
It must be what many of you agree on that the aspiration makes it sound sibilant to me. Why don't other words with the /t/ phoneme, like <ten>, sound like the beginning of <two>? Does how a phoneme is pronounced depend often on the vowel behind it?


This is what we call 'co-articulation'. We don't say our phonemes as discreet little bundles - our articulators are moving rapidly across the whole word, and not just across the word, but the phrase or sentence. Test it yourself, between two and ten - your tongue is actually in a slightly different place to produce the first part of the sound, and your lips are shaped differently before you even start voicing the vowel.
Alternatively, this can be studied in the opposite direction - take a recording and analyse the waveform. We skimmed across the surface of this in a subject our uni called 'Acoustic Phonetics' - a subject for which most of us (doing an undergrad degree in Speech Pathology) didn't have the physics background to understand properly.


Return to “Language/Linguistics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Eebster the Great and 7 guests