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Sophia students! These videos are for you.

IHere are two videos I made for classes at Sophia. This first one explains some basic ideas in phonetics: source-filter theory and formant frequencies. The second one explains how to make your own vowel chart. You can download the chart

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How do Japanese people pronounce 言う? 言った? 言われる?

Earlier today on Reddit there was a discussion about how Japanese people pronounce 言う in all its various forms. Is it pronounced いう [iɯ] or ゆう [jɯː]? Does it change for past tense, て form, or other forms? Does it

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Standard American English? Whose standard?

When teaching English pronunciation, every teacher runs up immediately against the same question: whose pronunciation should we teach? In Japan, the trend for the last number of years has been to try to teach “standard American English”, whatever that means.

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Posted in Phonetics and Phonology, Teaching Tips

How to Teach Pronunciation

How do you teach pronunciation to students learning another language? This is basically the question I’m trying to answer at grad school now. It turns out that there isn’t any one solid, evidence-based approach to doing so, but I mean

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Posted in Teaching Tips

Learn some stuff about vowels, why don’t ya?

Let’s talk about vowels. Vowels are sounds made without blocking airflow in your mouth, more or less. The consonant sound [t] involves your tongue touching the area behind your teeth. A vowel, on the other hand, is a sound like

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How to Pronounce the Japanese Nasal, ん

In phonology, we refer to ん as a phoneme. A phoneme is a mental representation of a sound, which native speakers will usually receive as the same sound, and we usually represent that with slashes, like this: /ɴ/. That’s the

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Posted in Learn Japanese, Phonetics and Phonology

Turning Sounds into Meaning

Today I’d like to spend a little time on something kind of technical: phonology. Phonology (音韻論) is a branch of linguistics that focuses on the sounds of a language and how they’re converted into grammatical units. It’s distinct from phonetics

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