A Question for those who understand about IPA.

SagaSon   Thursday, August 21, 2003, 07:41 GMT
Which sound from IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) chart is considered the hardest???
Weird   Thursday, August 21, 2003, 08:48 GMT
The one you make when you gag after watching Arsenal play
Tom   Thursday, August 21, 2003, 10:09 GMT
Depends on the learner. For me, the hardest to learn probably were the American [o] and [o:] (and the difference between the two). Other Polish learners often have difficulty with the [r] sound.
Juan   Thursday, August 21, 2003, 11:45 GMT
I would say the schwa. I cant differentiate between "bart" and "but" in Commonwealth English, in other words non-rhotic English. They both sound like "a" sounds in Spanish and I can't really tell the difference.
Hythloday   Thursday, August 21, 2003, 16:12 GMT
It completely depends on the speaker's first language. In most accents of English, for example, the trilled 'r', as in 'perro' - the Spanish word for 'dog', is rarely used, so being an English speaker, I find this almost impossible to produce. Similarly, German speakers find the 'w' sound difficult and often substitute it for a 'v' sound, etc.
SagaSon   Friday, August 22, 2003, 03:28 GMT
I am talking about all the sounds of IPA not only those who are in English.
To Juan   Friday, August 22, 2003, 08:40 GMT
I'm a non-rhotic speaker (with the ar vowel at least, ur/er is another story) and was just saying the words 'bart' and 'but' out loud wondering what the difference is.

You're right they are almost the same. The only difference I can notice is that 'but' is slightly shorter and the air comes out of my mouth like a quick puff, whereas 'bart' is like saying 'ahhhhh' at the doctor and not much air is released, my mouth is also opened slightly more wider with this one. Hope that helps!
Juan   Friday, August 22, 2003, 09:59 GMT
Thanks very much for your input, that really helped. I also have another quite tricky words which I sometimes get into trouble. I dont know how to say this without being rude but, following Received Pronounciation, I have trouble saying the "CAN'T" word (which in American English the "ae" vowel is used) to distinguinsh it from the vulgar "c-u-n-t" word. I would assume from the bart and but example that "can't" the vowel is ahhhhh and for the second mentioned word is more like quick puff.
To Juan   Friday, August 22, 2003, 15:03 GMT
Yeah thats right, its the same thing.
Lana   Friday, August 22, 2003, 18:36 GMT
I don't know about the IPA symbols, but...
I have no trouble with the Spanish r or rr sounds, but I am having a lot of trouble with the German r sound. It seems to be similar to the French r (I am not very familiar with French). It seems to be "swallowed." Does anyone have advice for pronouncing the German r?
hythloday   Friday, August 22, 2003, 18:49 GMT
Yes, make a sound like when you are clearing your throat of phlegm and about to spit it out. It's exactly the same.
Clark   Friday, August 22, 2003, 23:23 GMT
That is funny you mention the "r" sound, Tom. I have some friends visiting with me from Germany now, and I have noticed that the German "r" sound is almost identical to the British English "r" sound.

For those of you who will get on my case about the German "r," my friends are from the North in Germany, and their dialect is Hochdeutsch, so it is not trilled or anything like that.
Tom   Saturday, August 23, 2003, 00:06 GMT
The Hochdeutsch [r] is nothing like the English [r]. Totally different sounds.
Clark   Saturday, August 23, 2003, 01:12 GMT
Well I beg to differ. In Hochdeutsch, I bet you might say that the "ch" is a hard gutteral sound like that found in "loch." But in their (my friends) Hochdeutsch, the "ch" is like the English, "sh." This is the way that they pronounce these sounds. So they say, "Ich spreche Hochdeutsch" (I speak High German) and it sounds something like, "ish shpreshah hokh-doytsh." Also, in Britain, they say, "there" and it sounds like "theh," and in my friends' Hochdeutsch accent, "schwartz" (black) sounds like "shvahts."

I am not saying that they sound identical, but I am saying, "that the German "r" sound is almost identical to the British English "r" sound." Emphasize on the word "almost."
Tom   Saturday, August 23, 2003, 09:03 GMT
Yeah, the "r" at the end of words is not pronounced in both Hochdeutsch and British English. However, the [r] in the middle of words ("bewahren") is very different from the British [r].