Showing posts from February, 2008

Pronunciation pitfalls

An English woman once said to me that English is not a logical language. "Actually," she said, "the only logical thing in English is that you negate only once (as opposed to Spanish, for example, that forces a double negation)."

There are many reasons why English is not a logical language, but today I'll just analyze words that look similar and that you'd consequently expect to sound fairly alike, but really don't.

One of the most obvious examples is probably:

finite (adj.) /ˈfaɪnaɪt/ - infinite (adj., noun) /ˈɪnfɪnət/
(boy, the prefix changes the sound completely!)

«The world's resources are finite.» (long i)
«Human stupidity is infinite.»

Another example:

anxious (adj.) /ˈænkʃəs/ - anxiety (noun) /æŋˈzaɪəti/
(the i is long in anxiety, but not in anxious)

«I always feel anxiuos before an exam.»
«The time before an exam is full of anxiety.»

Yet another one:

live (adj., adv.) /laɪv/ - live (verb) /lɪv/
(the pronunciation changes according to the grammatical …