w is also regularly written u, as in persuade, and as part of the digraph qu, as in quite.
Where the spelling is the digraph wh, the pronunciation in most cases may be either w or hw, depending on regional, social and stylistic factors. In RP and other accents of England, and in Australian English, it is usually w, as in white; but in GenAm usually, and in Scottish and Irish English almost always, it is hw, as in white. Learners of EFL are recommended to use plain w if they are following the RP model, hw if they are following the GenAm model.
Occasionally, the pronunciation is h, as in whole, who.
1. Many English function words (= articles, pronouns, prepositions, auxiliaries, modals) have more than one pronunciation. In particular, they have a strong form, containing a strong vowel, and a weak form, containing a weak vowel. An example is at.
The weak form is generally used if the word is unstressed. The strong form is used only when the word is stressed, usually because it is accented.
3. Nevertheless, the strong form is used for unaccented function words in certain position:
· usually, for a preposition when it is between a weak syllable and a pronoun, to help the rhythm
· always, when a function word is stranded (= left exposed by a syntactic operation involving the movement or deletion of the word o which it depends):
It is important for learners of English to use weak forms appropriately. Otherwise, listeners may think they are emphasizing a word where this is not really so. Equally, native speakers should not be misled into supposing that careful or declamatory speech demands strong forms throughout. One exception is the pronunciation style used for singing, where strong forms are often used. Even here, though, articles are usually weak.
1. Where the spelling is x, the pronunciation is regularly ks, as in six. Less commonly, it is gz, and occasionally z or kʃ.
2. The pronunciation gz is found mainly in words beginning ex- before a stressed vowel, for example exist. There is a variant pronunciation with kz. However, in words beginning exce-, exci-,the pronunciation is ks, with the c silent, as in exceeded.
3. The pronunciation is regularly z at the beginning of a word, as in xerox, anxiety.
4. The pronunciation iskʃ in words ending -xious, -xion, -xure,for example, crucifixion, anxious.
5. ks is also regularly written
cks, as in kicks
ks, as in thanks
cc, as in accident
6. x is silent in certain names and other words borrowed from French, as in prix.
1. Among unstressed syllables it is useful to distinguish between those that nevertheless contain a strong vowel and those that have a weak vowel. This distinction has implication for syllabification and for rhythm.
2. A stressed syllable must always contain a strong vowel. All the syllables in the following words, whether stressed or unstressed, are strong-vowelled: red, hope, bedtime, undone, acorn.
3. The vowels ә, i, u, are always weak. The vowelɪ too is weak in many cases, and sometimes ʊ in BrE and oʊ in AmE. The unstressed syllables in the following words are al weak-vowelled: allow, happy, situation, remember, standard, stimulus.The weak vowel ә may be realized in the form of a syllabic consonant, as in suddenly. If a diphthong is created through the compression of weak syllables, it remains weak, as inannual.
4. The distinction between weak ɪ and ә has the power of distinguishing words in RP. The words rabbitand abbotdo not rhyme. In certain other kinds of English this distinction may be neutralized, with ә used instead of weak ɪ in virtually all positions, or with the choice between ɪ and ә dependent upon the phonetic context.
5. Even in RP and other kinds of English that maintain the distinction between weak ɪ and ә, many words may be heard with either pronunciation, and this is shown in LPD. For example, carelessness, civil, private.
1. At the beginning of a word or syllable, where the spelling is y,the pronunciation is j, as in yet, beyond.
2. Elsewhere, the same pronunciation correspond to y as to i, namely
ɪ (short) as in crystal
aɪ (long) as in type
or y may be part of one of the digraphs ay, ey, oy, uy.
3. The sound j is also sometimes written i, as in onion.It frequently arises through compression of i with a following weak vowel, as in convenient.
As part of the sequence juː, it is regularly written eu, ew, u, ue.
1. Where the spelling is z, the pronunciation is regularly z, as in lazy.
2. Where the spelling is double zz, the pronunciation is again z, as in dazzle.
3. Because of yod coalescence, the pronunciation is occasionally ʒ, as in seizure.
4. In certain words borrowed from foreign languages, spelling with z, zz or the foreign digraph tz, the pronunciation is ts, as in Nazi, pizza, quarts.
5. The sound zis also regularly written s, as in choose.