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Youkai

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Hi,
I am in the UK as a trainee (actually mainly to learn some more about the work in the IT and to see how they work in different companies and in different countries) now somehow all of them are like "you are here to learn English" which is actually at best secondary if not even less (I think my English is actually good enough for a foreigner)

So as they all want me to learn better English I thought of a few small questions and funny enough NOBODY could answer me and some even tried to gave me completely stupid and wrong answers so maybe there are people here who could help ^^

(often notice people with US or UK flag doing weird mistakes too but yeah maybe there is an English teacher here who would know of just some people that are interested in their language XD
I probably wouldn't be able to teach anyone proper German as well as it is a big difference to speak a language or to really know how to use it well)


So first question
If there is a vowel (a i u e o [y]) after the word "the" you speak it different like "si" or however you would write that. (some were trying to tell me you could say "the" either way depending on your liking ... they didn't know its about those vowels -.-V)
So if I say "The Interface" I'd speak the "the" like "si" but what if I say "The graphical Interface" how would I say "the" there ? still like "si" as its pointing at the Interface or the normal "the" as "graphical" is g which is not a vowel ?

Next Question
I learned that in English the Y is a vowel too ! even thought noone here in the UK seems to know that oO ... but as far as I know you still use the "normal" "the" even if there is a word with a Y (or is it an?)

last one
Last "mistake" I remember was some guy writing about "programming a RPG" which should be "an" (I pretty sure about that) but than again R is not a vowel ^^V but I think its because it does sound like "ar" ?

anyone wants to enlighten me ?
 
Last edited by Youkai,

Froster

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So first question
If there is a vowel (a i u e o [y]) after the word "the" you speak it different like "si" or however you would write that. (some were trying to tell me you could say "the" either way depending on your liking ... they didn't know its about those vowels -.-V)
So if I say "The Interface" I'd speak the "the" like "si" but what if I say "The graphical Interface" how would I say "the" there ? still like "si" as its pointing at the Interface or the normal "the" as "graphical" is g which is not a vowel ?

Next Question
I learned that in English the Y is a vowel too ! even thought noone here in the UK seems to know that oO ... but as far as I know you still use the "normal" "the" even if there is a word with a Y (or is it an?)

last one
Last "mistake" I remember was some guy writing about "programming a RPG" which should be "an" (I pretty sure about that) but than again R is not a vowel ^^V but I think its because it does sound like "ar" ?

anyone wants to enlighten me ?
1) What do you mean with "si"? :P
If there's a vowel the exact thing to say is actually "the" pronounced "dee" or like that.
2) If I remember correctly, you should pronounce "the" the normal way.
3) Yeah,it's wrong. You should say "an RPG".

Hope that I'm right :D
 

mashers

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Ok I can answer this.If the word following the word 'the' starts with a consonant, then you pronounce 'the' with a schwa (the vowel sound at the beginning of the word 'about'). If the word following the word 'the' starts with a vowel, then you pronounce 'the' with a long 'ee' sound, like the end of the word 'tree'. So for example:

  • 'the dog'
  • 'the fish'
  • 'the graphical interface'
  • 'the mouse'
  • 'thee apple'
  • 'thee interface'
  • 'thee entrance'
  • 'thee octopus'
  • 'thee umbrella'

If you reversed these, you would get a different effect:
  • 'thee graphic design software' would suggest emphasis on that particular graphical interface, for example, 'Adobe Illustrator is thee graphic design software for digital artists' would imply that it's the best, or the most dominant, or the only one which is worth considering
  • 'the entrance' would imply no particular meaning but would sound odd or childish


As for 'y', yes it can be a vowel. English phoneme to grapheme correspondence is inconsistent and depends on the position of the letter in the word. For example:
  • 'yellow': y is a consonant
  • 'play': y is a vowel
  • 'dirty': y is a vowel
Yes they make a different sound even though they are represented by the same letter. The rule is if 'y' is at the beginning of a syllable it is pronounced as a consonant, otherwise it's pronounced as a vowel.


With regard to the acronym, you should use the determiner which would sound correct if you were reading out the acronym, not the words. So:
  • 'an RPG' is correct
  • 'a PC' is correct
  • 'a RPG' is incorrect
  • 'an PC' is incorrect
 

Youkai

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ah finally ^^

1. yes "si" was supposed to sound like your "dee" or the even more fitting "thee" that mashers used ;)

2. I don't really get that reversed stuff but at least you enlightened me a lot !
thanks man.

Still weird that there seem to be a lot people here in the UK who have no clue at all about this stuff oO one of the people I asked even is a Doctor ... (even though a medical one)

I thought you would say "thee" as well with graphical interface as that is what you would do in German with "der/die/das" as like if you say "the great king" in German that "the" would be ment for the King and not for the great.
So it seems to be different in English.
 
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sarkwalvein

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I live in Germany, so I've also heard many Germans pronunciating "thxxx" like "sxxx" (the -> se, them -> sem, etc.)
I find that really weird, as (at least for me) the pronuciation of "th" in those cases is more or less similar to the spanish "d". (not the same anyway)
(Of course, the other pronunciation of "th", like in "think", is totally different)

PS: any suggestion regarding how "the" should be pronunced?

ah finally ^^

2. I don't really get that reversed stuff but at least you enlightened me a lot !
thanks man.

Still weird that there seem to be a lot people here in the UK who have no clue at all about this stuff oO one of the people I asked even is a Doctor ... (even though a medical one)

I thought you would say "thee" as well with graphical interface as that is what you would do in German with "der/die/das" as like if you say "the great king" in German that "the" would be ment for the King and not for the great.
So it seems to be different in English.

In English the pronuciation of "the" is completely based on how you pronuciate the next (and only the next word). It is so to make the whole thing easier to pronunciate. This is not related to gender or casus, it is only to ease pronunciation.

So, if the next word starts with a vowel sound, like "The RPG" (thee ar-pee-jee), you say "dee", if it starts with a consonant sound like "The person" or "The Unity" (the you-nee-tee) you say kind of "the".

You can say "thee computer" to put some emphasis on "computer" (e.g. if you mean that very special computer or something like that), you can say "the ar-pe-jee" if you want to sound weird.

Also, native speaker of any language (happens to me with Spanish) normally don't have a clue about rules, they just feel and use the language correctly, their neural network has learn the language by itself when they were kids, so they understand how to do that, but they don't really realize why they do that in such way.
 
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mashers

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I've attached an example of pronunciation of 'the' when followed by both a vowel and a consonant. I've attached it to this post. It's synthesised speech but it's accurate. I hope it helps :)
 

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FAST6191

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Somehow missed this one, must have been scanning too quickly. Others have taken stricter approaches where I will go for the aim of sounding like yers a native speaker of English innit. Ultimately I will probably confuse things greatly, but English is a bastard child of about 20 different invaders prior to the whole empire bit twisting it even further.

The the thing I had never really considered before, and might vary between types of English (UK tends to emphasise with clarity was the best way I heard of describing it, US English does volume hence people saying Americans are loud).
It was never something I was taught in school anyway, but elocution went away in the 50s for most unless you were in boarding school.
I would not notice it in general conversation, you might sound a bit guttural or rural if it sounds more like a deh sound than a thugh sound but nothing to be worried about from where I sit. In strict RP (received pronunciation aka BBC accent aka Queen's English) and probably Estuary English (RP but not as posh sounding) then there is a difference, in the way most people speak it is optional, in text it does not get reflected. At the same time I would be happy enough to not observe the distinction in court or in an interview.
On the other hand a thee sound does indeed emphasise things. Or it might be used to take an imperious tone or be a mock judge or something. On the flip side if you pause between the words then emphasis might happen that way "mate, you brought the (sounding like deh and a short pause after) aggro this evening" would also emphasise things.
Do note also that thee is a rather old fashioned way of saying yourself, similar to the word thou meaning you which also is also rather old fashioned (usually only seen in old translations of the 10 commandments as they sound more like ancient knowledge, or compound phrases* of some marginal cultural relevance like do what thou will). Other than quotes of Shakespeare it is mostly used as a humorous or authoritarian (but still humorous), and in many cases mixed with profanity as a contrast -- you are covered in mud and sitting on my sofa, get off it and get thee to the fucking shower, or "your leg is bleeding and will not stop by itself, get thee to the bloody doctor". If we are continuing the old fashioned English then thine is also a word meaning thee, though it will usually come up in the form thine self (get thineself to the doctor).

*not a thing in English like it is German, however a nice example would probably come in most English people are taught the French for please is si vous plait which rather more literally translates as if you (you being the formal/respectful version which not a thing in English) please.

The y is a vowel or not thing is a debate among some people.
Generally speaking if a non loanword or something that is not a proper name does not have any other vowels in it then there will be a y in the word and it functions somewhat like one. I would probably argue the y in dirty is not a vowel by virtue of the i, sure it sounds like one and then when we get into discussing the forms of it (you dirtied the sofa with your muddy clothes) it would factor into rules of thumb there.

an is definitely used when the next word starts with a vowel. The sounds like thing is up for debate though. Many do it because it runs easier in speech (an hour does not involve the mouth resetting position where a hour does). An when the next word neither starts or sounds like will make you sound like you come from 4chan (an hero and all that). For even more giggles you might also hear a phrase like "he sold me a one hour block" rather than "he sold me an one hour block", reasonings for that I shall leave for another day (it could be the ease thing, it could be someone wanted to try out the post noun adjectives or invisible adjectives, or it could be something else entirely). Bonus is "he sold me an hour block" means the same thing but has the an in now.

The bonus for all of this is there is no central English language standards body like French sort of has and it is all somewhat fluid, and most attempts to have a prescriptive linguistics body for English are met with strong opposition. How do you like dem apples?
 

Youkai

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As you said FAST you make it all even more complicated XD than again you say its just all bullshit and you can actually really do as you wish ? xD
I think I will still try to stick with the "rules"

I've attached an example of pronunciation of 'the' when followed by both a vowel and a consonant. I've attached it to this post. It's synthesised speech but it's accurate. I hope it helps :)

Oh ... well you know, I do know how to speak the word in any kind of way I just didn't know when to and how to write it in phonetics ^^V
Thanks anyway.
 
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evandixon

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(I think my English is actually good enough for a foreigner)
Your English is good enough that I probably would not have known this if you didn't explicitly say it. (Your English is certainly much better than my French.)

If there is a vowel (a i u e o [y]) after the word "the" you speak it different like "si" or however you would write that. (some were trying to tell me you could say "the" either way depending on your liking ... they didn't know its about those vowels -.-V)
So if I say "The Interface" I'd speak the "the" like "si" but what if I say "The graphical Interface" how would I say "the" there ? still like "si" as its pointing at the Interface or the normal "the" as "graphical" is g which is not a vowel ?
Thinking more about it, I do pronounce "the" like "thē" (pronounced "thee") or "thə" (pronounced like "thuh") in cases like you've listed. I don't think it's a formal rule, although before vowel sounds, it's easier to pronounce it "thē".

Also, as @mashers said, "thē" can imply emphasis. A scene from Futurama comes to mind for some reason:
Leela: That's Zapp Brannigan's ship!
Fry: Wow, the Zapp Brannigan?

Next Question
I learned that in English the Y is a vowel too ! even thought noone here in the UK seems to know that oO ... but as far as I know you still use the "normal" "the" even if there is a word with a Y (or is it an?)
The rules with "a" vs "an" are based on whether or not the next word has a vowel sound. This makes it a little easier to pronounce. In most cases, a word starting with a vowel has a vowel sound, but not always.
Notable exceptions:
-A unicorn
-A unicycle
-An X-Ray

"Y" is different, as it only sometimes behaves like a vowel. Ususally (one can almost never say "always" about English rules), "a" will be used before a word starting with "y" because it has a consonant sound (like "a yes" or "a yellow wall"). In other cases, it sounds like a vowel, like in "gym", "sky", or "wyvern".


Last "mistake" I remember was some guy writing about "programming a RPG" which should be "an" (I pretty sure about that) but than again R is not a vowel ^^V but I think its because it does sound like "ar" ?
"RPG" is pronounced by just saying the letters. Since "R" sounds like "Are", beginning with a vowel sound, use "an".
 

mashers

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Also, as @mashers said, "thē" can imply emphasis. A scene from Futurama comes to mind for some reason:
Leela: That's Zapp Brannigan's ship!
Fry: Wow, the Zapp Brannigan?
That's a brilliant example, and one of my favourite quotes. But you forgot the best part of it :P

Leela: Hey, look! That's Zapp Brannigan's ship.
Fry: Wow! The Zapp Brannigan?
Leela: Uh-huh!
Fry: Who's the Zapp Brannigan?

The joke being that Fry has emphasised the word 'the' to imply that there is some 'Zapp Brannigan' who should be well known to everyone, but then suggests that he doesn't actually know who he is. I use this joke a lot when people are talking about insipid 'celebrity' 'personalities'.

Me: The Katie Price?
Them: Yeah!
Me: Who's the Katie Price?

The rules with "a" vs "an" are based on whether or not the next word has a vowel sound. This makes it a little easier to pronounce. In most cases, a word starting with a vowel has a vowel sound, but not always.
Notable exceptions:
-A unicorn
-A unicycle
-An X-Ray
Actually if you're talking about the sound, not the letter, then those aren't exceptions at all. If you spell them phonetically you find that unicorn and unicycle start with consonants, and x-ray starts with a vowel:

- A yoonicorn
- A yoonisycle
- An exray

Since we're discussing how you say it, it makes perfect sense to use 'a' with words that start with 'u' and 'an' with words which start with 'x', since these letters correspond (in those particular contexts) to consonant and vowel sounds respectively.

--------------------- MERGED ---------------------------

Still weird that there seem to be a lot people here in the UK who have no clue at all about this stuff
It's because most people don't learn metalinguistics.
 

evandixon

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Actually if you're talking about the sound, not the letter, then those aren't exceptions at all. If you spell them phonetically you find that unicorn and unicycle start with consonants, and x-ray starts with a vowel:

- A yoonicorn
- A yoonisycle
- An exray
I meant to say that those were exceptions to the "begins with vowel letter" rule. The "begins with vowel sound" rule is actually one of the few rules without exceptions (unless you're using the "an hero" meme, but that's because other languages don't pronounce the "h").
 

mashers

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I meant to say that those were exceptions to the "begins with vowel letter" rule. The "begins with vowel sound" rule is actually one of the few rules without exceptions (unless you're using the "an hero" meme, but that's because other languages don't pronounce the "h").
Neither do some accents in English :)
 

Bimmel

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Thank you, that actually is very interesting.

I always thought it was some old kind of speaking. :blush:
 

Youkai

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Your English is good enough that I probably would not have known this if you didn't explicitly say it.
that sounds a little bit like you are making fun of me oO or is it just a very weird way of writing you just used there ?

Well this was a complete waste of time and virtual space by the use of text.
Here's a piece of advice: leave England now!

So is it England which you don't like or is it my English ???

Anyway I guess a post like that is actually much more waste of time and virtual space than anything else ...

God! Why do you have to make me type trivial stuff?

What I mean is that this is officially the most boring topic I've read in this site and the OP needs to move out of England immediately.
He's looking to learn about computers and I.T. And the Brits want to teach him "proper English" instead.

Well than again it's not that I don't care about the language at all even though I doubt I need to learn much more to survive in a foreign country XD
 
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Engert

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@Engert
What do you mean by that?

God! Why do you have to make me type trivial stuff?

What I mean is that this is officially the most boring topic I've read in this site and the OP needs to move out of England immediately.
He's looking to learn about computers and I.T. And the Brits want to teach him "proper English" instead.
 
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zoogie

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God! Why do you have to make me type trivial stuff?

What I mean is that this is officially the most boring topic I've read in this site and the OP needs to move out of England immediately.
He's looking to learn about computers and I.T. And the Brits want to teach him "proper English" instead.
It seems like he's the one asking others to teach him that. He can learn IT and proper English pronunciation, they're not mutually exclusive.
 
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