A man apologises for arriving late for his appointment. The receptionist, looking at the list of expected clients, guesses that this is Mr Twain. The man, probably not Mr Twain in fact, still has his late arrival on his mind and hears this as “Missed a train”. How was this misunderstanding possible?
We may suppose that the receptionist speaks a version of English where an r is not pronounced after a vowel (eg England, Australia, New Zealand) so that “Mr” sounds like “Mista” or “Missed a”. But what about “Twain” for “train”? Well, the /r/ is possibly one of the most variable phonemes in the language, with an enormous range of pronunciations across different accents, and even from speaker to speaker. Some speakers pronounce it as something almost resembling a /w/ – possibly as many as 10% in England. There is no evidence that the receptionist is among this 10%, but evidently the man thinks she is!
Happy to say that PronPack is available, print-on-demand, from Amazon Japan – click on the image above to see the page. Amazon also prints-on-demand in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the UK and the US. If you are in one of those countries, simply log onto the Amazon website and type “PronPack” into the search box.
Since 1971, the English-Speaking Union has celebrated the highest quality English language teaching resources. This year, there are four categories for the awards, each focusing on materials which develop oracy (speaking and listening) skills: Resources for Young Learners (ages 3-12); Resources for Secondary to Adult Learners (ages 12 and above); Resources for Teachers; The President’s Award for the use of new technology in ELT.
PronPack 1-4 has been shortlisted for the award in ‘Resources for Teachers’. Also in the same category are ‘A Syllabus for Listening’ by Richard Cauldwell, Puchta and Elliot’s ‘Activities for Very Young Learners’, ‘Mobile Learning’ by Shaun Wilden, and ‘Power-Up’, from David Farmer. The winner will be announced on November 20th, 2018 at a ceremony in London.
Minimal pairs. Context will often disambiguate, as it hopefully does in this cartoon! But pronunciation problems tend to hunt in packs, and the resulting chaos is less easy to find your way out of. You end up having to unpick the problems one by one anyway. Minimal pairs.
Showing again how homophones are not only restricted to single words, here’s one consisting of two words with consonant-vowel linking. You can never be quite sure where one word ends and another begins in speech!
And this week’s winner in the facebook contest was Barbara Connelly with ‘Grade A’ = ‘Grey day’!
Homophones are pairs of words such as piece and peace, with different meaning but the same pronunciation. But they may also be phrases which are more than just one word, as in this challenge. In this pair, the homophones occur because two words link together and it’s not clear where the boundary between them lies – there are two possibilities! Can you find the homophones?
This homophone hunt went on Facebook, and the winner is… Jolanta Nyczke with sick snails = six nails!
BrELT is ‘a global ELT community made by Brazilians’ and what a community it is – amazing energy and initiative, and an important part of any teacher’s personal learning network, in Brazil and beyond. But it’s not only online – there are now physical conferences too. This event is their second, and I’m honored to have been invited! More about the event here!