Wiktionary talk:Well-Enunciated American English

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This is the talk page for a deleted page. It is being kept for historical interest.

Is this a technical desgination? I haven't seen it and couldn't find it. "Well-enunciated" sounds fairly subjective. -dmh 19:13, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)

See Talk:ostrich.

This all makes me a bit nervous, particlarly the implication that dropping and modifying sounds is somehow a deviation from a well-enunciated norm. In fact, well-enunciated X is an abstraction of various dialects of spoken X. The situation of proto-indo-european roots is somewhat analogous. No one speaks proto-indo-european, or may ever have, but millions speak some derivative.


I'll clarify that this is the intent -- an ideal where it may become simpler in real use. Długosz

Some dialects distinguish pin/pen, some don't. Some distinguish merry/marry/Mary and some don't. But no dialect makes every possible distinction.

I'll use that sentence in the main essay, if you don't mind. Długosz

That said, there is an informal notion of General American pronunciation, and we should probably reference that.

Finally, I'm not sure that a 19th-century poem is the best choice for illustrating modern pronunciation.

-dmh 19:47, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)

The current version does a lot to address the concerns I raised. In keeping with NPOV, I would like to see a more neutral designation . . . hmmm . . . "Neutral American English" or something like that?

Or "fully ennunciated AE" -dmh 16:22, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I would also like to see some briefer illustrative examples, and maybe even a few illustrating problem areas.

-dmh 20:56, 18 Mar 2004 (UTC)


This all seems very ad-hoc to me. Where can I ready about this dialect/pronunciation/IPA representation? What is the linguistic basis for it? I'm very happy that it's somehow related to the IPA Handbook (which I can't afford!) but otherwise it appears entirely dubious and doesn't fit with what I've learned about American English from Linguistics sources and my own experience. What is wrong with the established "General American" used elsewhere? Why should I put any more faith in this touted system than in the mentioned yet non-existent "Austrailian Outback" dialect mentioned in the article? Hippietrail 09:11, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)

can you be more specific about what you've learned about American English? What dialect do you speak? —Długosz
I share these reservations to a large extent. However, there may be an unfilled niche in the "broad IPA representation" category. General American is an actual accent, with its own mergings and elisions. I believe the intent here is to derive some sort of abstraction, which no one actually speaks, but which is implied in the spelling and use of words, and which can be used as a more formal basis to answer questions like "do I pronounce 'awry' as 'aRYE' or 'AWree'?" without worrying about regional differences in how those two designations would be pronounced.
All dictionaries try to address this problem, each in its own idiosyncratic way. Even saying "use IPA" is inadequate, as it leaves open the question "IPA representation of what?" One answer is "use a designated standard accent (e.g., Received Pronunciation)" or several such (RP, General American, Crocodile Dundee :-) when there are significant differences. The balance here is between
  • Providing too much detail about dialectal differences -- I don't need to hear about pin/pen on blend, fen, bent, meant and every other such word.
  • Missing out significant variations not easily deduced from the spelling and standard pronunciations. Examples of this are by definition harder to find, but perhaps "autoMObile" vs. "AUtomobile".
I'm also reluctant to grant any single accent an imprimatur as "preferred" or "official". It would be nice to have a neutral representation from which one could predict a particular dialectal variant most of the time, with the exceptions duly noted. In many languages the spelling serves this purpose, but English orthography being what it is, a new notation is needed.
If anyone knows of existing efforts toward this particular end (the Shavian alphabet, perhaps :-), please pipe up! -dmh 16:22, 19 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Everybody puts what they think the word sounds like if they bother at all to supply one; the only difference is I'm documenting the dialect. Because there are differences, it would be good to note what dialect/region/system was used for any pronunciation. I'm very happy to have many listed side-by-side, each supplied by someone who talks that way. —Długosz

Um. I read bits like: why is carefully enunciated as /hwaɪ/ .... Respecting all these nuances is the very definition of “well enunciated”.... If spoken carefully with the intent of enunciating the word, so it can be distinguished out of context, you would voice a difference between /ɑ/ and /ɔ/, even if in normal speech they sounded exactly alike.

This looks suspiciously like spelling pronunciation to me. It's true that some phoneme merges seem to cancel out in careful speech, but not all of them; in my experience the cot-caught merger never undoes itself, though perhaps usually the writer-rider one does—however I have firsthand witnessed someone actually spell out mottled to distinguish it from modeled, as apparently even in "well-enunciated" speech he didn't have the distinction. —Muke Tever 19:14, 30 Mar 2004 (UTC)


Further um. You use /oː/ in transcriptions. This isn't anywhere near standard, but is a characteristic of "Minnewegian" accents (it is, indeed, probably the most characteristic sound of that accent). The normal "broad" transcription of it is /o/ or the slightly more well-enunciated /oʊ/.

Also, as far as NPOV goes, not only does "well-enunciated" imply that deviations from this are "poorly-enunciated", it also puts people like me who merge cot-caught and don't know what words have /O/ in them ("law", in your description, was a big surprise) into the box of "ignorantly-enunciated", which is hardly fair. —Muke Tever 17:36, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)


I think now it's not right to take a particular dialect of English (whether or not it's actually yours) and label it "well-enunciated". What may be fruitful, which WEAE approaches but does not match, is a sort of "maximally distinct" American English, which encodes (hopefully without IPA) all the various regional pronunciations of sounds, and allows the user to merge what merges he has on his own. The AHD's pronunciation key approaches this, with transcriptions such as mârʹē, mărʹē, mĕrʹē for Mary, marry, merry respectively...

Producing a proper pronunciation key like this for Wiktionary would take some research but the result would probably be worth it. —Muke Tever 01:12, 8 Apr 2004 (UTC)


The transcription of "I wander lonely as a crowd" needs heavy revision. There are many inconsistensies noticing just at a glance: notation of the r phoneme in the transcriptions of "croud" vs. "breeze", some stressed syllables are marked--some aren't, punctuation from the original is noted in some places but omitted in others.

Also, strangely, the transcription of "golden" with a syllabic n seems rather not well-enunciated, I speak a dialect that usually only produces syllabic n after unvoiced consonants, and "golden" with a syllabic n sounds fairly colloquial to me, and not well-enunciated. Likewise, the d is omitted from "and" in its transcription, a trait that also seems to be colloquial.

Another strange trait of this transcription is the persistent use of /e:/ for the article "a", even when followed by word beginning with a consonant. I thought this was a peculiar trait reserved for a few north east coast american dialects, and in most dialects it is considered an error, not a trait of careful enunciation, just as if someone were to use the form of "the" that usually only preceeds a vowel before a word beginning with a consonant. I also just noticed that while you list in the footnotes only two version of "the", three are used in the transcription, including the i-form of "the" before daffodils, when daffodils doesn't begin with a vowel!

More issues.. "stretched" is really difficult to pronounce with a final /d/, and I'm not aware of any modern dialect that does this.


Proposal[edit]

Rather than calling this the POV "well-enunciated", why don't we call it "maximal distinctions Americaan English", dropping the conceit that there is some variety somewhere that has all the distinctions, but instead adopting the assumption that the representation that we use reflects all distinctions made in the major varieties of American English, with the caveat that most dialects of American English have merged at least some of the distinctions represented.

Thus we could provide pronunciations with the a/ɑ/ɔ distinction, w/ʍ distinction, æɹ/ɛɹ/eɹ distinction, but be clear that most dialects don't make all these distinctions.

IMHO not flapping t and d where most Americans flap it is a hypercorrection that doesn't reflect any natual American dialects, but we could used t and d with a diacritic that means "flapped". There is no such IPA diacritic, so we would have to make one up or press into service a different diacritic. I might suggest MODIFIER LETTER CIRCUMFLEX ACCENT BELOW, which is the upside-down version of the diacritic used to mark voicing. So we might use ṱ and ḓ to mark flapped t and d, instead of using ɾ. The words rider and writer could then be transcribed as [raɪḓɚ] [raɪṱɚ] (assuming we eschew ɹ for r and ɑ for a in diphthongs for the purposes of simplification). Just a thought. I'll see if I can't come up with a more coherent proposal. Nohat 23:56, 1 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I have begun a proposal at Wiktionary:General American English with maximal distinctions. Nohat 02:41, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Symbols incorrectly displayed[edit]

Off topic, but it doesn't help the reader or the discussion that so many of the symbols used on the WEAE Wiktionary pages are not displayed properly when viewing these pages. 2 cents from a passer-by. Perhaps a statement on which fonts, etc would help?

Request for moving the page[edit]

  • I would like to see this page moved to a location that is: (a) not in the general entry namespace (i.e., moved to something like Wiktionary:...) and (b) NPOV (which this name clearly is not). Jun-Dai 23:04, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Discussion from rfv[edit]

looks like original research. Has "WEAE" been published anywhere? Rod (A. Smith) 01:03, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Surely the ban of (significant) original research should only apply to the main namespace (and even there its appropriateness is being questioned). Many WT: pages are original research, eg most Help pages and, arguably, RFD, RFV, RFC. The usefulness of a newly defined pronunciation could be questioned, as could the usefulness of writing Pronunciations using it; but not the originality of the material defining the pronunciation.
If WEAE actually represents the way many Americans speak when making an effort to be understood (eg when speaking over a poor phone line, or in an area with high background noise, or to people with hearing difficulties or with little knowledge of English) then I strongly support using it in pronunciations and defining it on this page. Indeed, it would be rather more useful than RP is (if strictly interpreted) for Brit English. As noted in the recent discussion re Estuary English, people could usually deduce dialectal pronunciations from it rather better than they could if (say) Calif Eng was used.
Unlike the British who JUST SHOUT LOUDER to make themselves understood to foreigners.
If WEAE is only used by, say, 10% of Americans, I would still support its use as a Pronunciation, in addition to another US pronunciation (GenAm has been mentioned, but I am not qualified to comment) and of course pronunciation(s) for UK, etc. This page is therefore needed to define the use.
If WEAE is not actually used by anyone, then it would seem inappropriate to use it for pronunciations, but this page should be kept until all WEAE pronunciations have been converted to something else, not least as an aid to the conversion process. --Enginear 11:05, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
WEAE is the invention of User:Długosz. I am not sure if we determined (at the time he was developing it) whether it was a description of his own dialect or not. —Muke Tever 11:22, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

Apparently there was no discussion here? Entry restored. Non-namespace zero items need to go through "other" deletions, not RFV. The entry is heavily linked internally and likely heavily linked externally. The most that can happen to it, is turning it into a redirect, if and when a suitable replacement is devised. How did this get nominated here, and how did it fail? By not being listed? --Connel MacKenzie 21:49, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

The article was moved to here Wiktionary:General American English with maximal distinctions and only then deleted. Andrew massyn 13:11, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
The confusion I had was that clicking the RFV link, I did not find the discussion (as it now has the strikethrough preventing normal deep linking from the entry.) This section should be combined with the one above. --Connel MacKenzie 17:31, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Keep, under original name, as Connel and I argued above. --Enginear 15:43, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

OK they are at both pages then. Andrew massyn 20:15, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Charset[edit]

Which charset (Western Windows, Western ISO, Unicode-UTF8..) is used to show IPA and the other pronunciation systems in Wiktionary ? --Mac 08:11, 7 November 2007 (UTC)

I believe you need UTF-8. Angr 16:29, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Deletion debate[edit]

Keep tidy.svg

The following information has failed Wiktionary's deletion process.

It should not be re-entered without careful consideration.


Wiktionary:Well-Enunciated American English

It's currently at WT:RFC#Wiktionary:Well-Enunciated American English but I can't see any value in it. Worse than that, WEAE and Well-Enunciated American English both redirect to it, which they shouldn't as they are in the main space, this is not. Why is this better than Wikipedia's IPA for English? Mglovesfun (talk) 13:20, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

Keep. I am more distressed by the use of "WEAE" in our pronunciation sections. This is not a standard abbreviation and it does not occur in WT:Glossary. DCDuring TALK 17:48, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
If this is a specific lexical term used in academic language and journals, sure, keep. If it's one person's idea to create an appendix based on his or her POV, delete it. IMO it's that simple. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:53, 20 May 2010 (UTC)
  • delete and bot-replace all instances in {{a}} templates with "US". "Well-enunciated American English" as an exact phrase gets 0 hits on google scholar and 1 hit on google books (an autobiography, [1]). Thryduulf (talk) 13:14, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
0 hits on Google Books if you count the capitalization: what you found was "well-enunciated American English", i.e. weAE, not WEAE. —AugPi (t) 14:11, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
I agree completely with Mglovesfun on this. At best, Wiktionary:Well-Enunciated American English should be moved to Wiktionary:General American. At worst, Wiktionary:Well-Enunciated American English should be deleted mercilessly, and occurrences of {{a|WEAE}} should be replaced by {{a|US}}, just as Widsith did for the article moor: [2] The "Well-Enunciated" part definitely goes without saying. —AugPi (t) 14:09, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
I don't oppose the page move, per AugPi. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:15, 11 June 2010 (UTC)
Delete This is neither a generally accepted lexicographic category nor a real dialect. It's just hypothetical "proto" form that the author made up. ~ heyzeuss 18:25, 11 June 2010 (UTC)

Deleted, especially per Heyzeuss but in general per all. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:34, 12 June 2010 (UTC)