''near'' and ''beet''

Bill   Saturday, September 11, 2004, 19:10 GMT
Do you pronounce ''near'' and ''beet'' with the same vowel sound?

My dictionary says that ''near'' and ''beet'' have the same vowel sound but I definitely don't pronounce ''near'' and ''beet'' with the same vowel sound.

This is how I pronounce ''near'' and ''beet'',

Mxsmanic   Saturday, September 11, 2004, 23:35 GMT
From an ESL standpoint, differences like this are irrelevant. ESL students must concentrate on getting the phonemic differences right; the rest can wait, and they need never go that far (beyond phonemic distinctions), unless they want to completely eliminate an accent.

The difference you mention is so small that it varies from one pronunciation of English to another and even from one individual to another. This being so, there's no point in asking whether or not a distinction actually exists.
Bill   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 00:49 GMT
Mxsmanic, For me ''near'' and ''beet'' do not have the same vowel sound. ''near'' is pronounced [nir] and ''beat'' is pronounced [bi:t].
Tom   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 01:08 GMT
While the difference is not phonemic, dictionaries find it important enough to use different symbols for the two vowel sounds.

near - [ni..] in British English, [ni..r] or [nir] in American English
beet - [bi:t]
Steve K   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 01:35 GMT
As usual I agree with Mxsmanic. These differences do not matter to a learner. I so often have learners ask me about obscure slang expressions when they cannot even make proper sentences. It is important to have learners focus on what matters.
But then so much of the discussion here is of little use to the ESL student. It is nevertheless obviously of interest to the participants on this forum.
Mi5 Mick   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 01:36 GMT
There most definitely is a distinction between "near" and "beat" in a large number of accents and it certainly isn't small. In Australian English, British RP and Southern English they are different phonemes. I've also seen them donated as different phonemes in American English.

This is how it looks from my perspective, if you read under "Diagnostic chart of General Australian English Vowels":

Bill   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 01:39 GMT
I think of the vowel sound in ''near'' as being phonemically the vowel sound in ''bit'' not the vowel sound in ''beet''. [nir]

Phonetically, I'd say it's neither the vowel sound in ''bit'' nor the vowel sound in ''beet'' but a totally different sound.

Mi5 Mick   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 01:43 GMT
I totally agree. In my accent the following words are 3 different phonemes:

Smith   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 01:45 GMT
The vowel sound in ''near'' and ''beat'' is definitely different in my accent. The vowel sound in ''near'' is closer to the vowel sound in ''bit'' than the vowel sound in ''beat''.


In my accent.
Mi5 Mick   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 01:49 GMT
* Correction: donated -> denoted (no, this isn't a sign of functional illiteracy: well that quashes a certain pedant's theory)
Mi5 Mick   Sunday, September 12, 2004, 09:01 GMT
Sorry, the stuff in brackets was just a reflex response. You can delete it moderators :)