19 Lesson n°9

19.1 Warmup

Word Stress Pattern IPA (RP) Received Pronunciation General American
familiar /0100/ /fə.’mɪl.i.ə/ familiar
thaw /1/ /θɔː/ /θɔː/
Peruvian /0100/ /pə.’ruːv.i.ən/ /pə.’ruːv.i.ən/
cough /1/ /kɒf/ /kɑːf/
changing /10/ /’tʃeɪndʒ.ɪŋ/ /’tʃeɪndʒ.ɪŋ/
felt /1/ /felt/ /felt/
terrific /010/ /tə.’rɪf.ɪk/ /tə.’rɪf.ɪk/
editorial /20100/ /ˌed.ɪ.’tɔːr.i.əl/ /ˌed.ɪ.’tɔːr.i.əl/
furious /100/ /’fjʊər.i.əs/ /’fjʊr.i.əs/
lavatorial /20100/ /ˌlæv.ə.’tɔːr.i.əl/ lavatorial

19.1.1 Reminder from last week: r-analogical liaison

(We follow Carley and Mees (2021).)

Most words that contain the vowels that trigger /r/-liaison have the letter < r > in the spelling because historically there was an /r/ in the pronunciation, which has been lost, and /r/-liaison is a remnant of this. However, some words with /r/-liaison vowels are not spelt with < r > because there was never an /r/ in the pronunciation (e.g. sofa, Utah, flaw, milieu, idea, etc.). These words have also come to be pronounced with /r/-liaison through analogy with those which historically had an /r/, for example:

  • sofa and chairs
  • our Utah office
  • flaw in
  • milieu of
  • idea of

We call this analogical /r/-liaison, and the same process can be found within words, e.g. drawing, cha-chaing, salsaing…

19.1.2 Weakening Personal pronouns

Weak Strong
he i hi ’hiː
him ɪm hɪm ’hɪm
her ə ɜː hə ’hɜː
us əs s ’ʌs
them ðəm ’ðem
  1. “He” keeps its / h/ after a pause, and so we can say that in this context “he” doesn’t have a weak form, the unstressed form being the same as the strong form. (In theory, the pronouns “him” and “her” also keep their /h/ after a pause, but in reality they hardly ever appear unstressed at the beginning of an utterance after a pause.)
  • He left; I bet he left; tell her
  1. The weak form of “her” varies between /ə/ and /ɜː/, with / ə/ being more common.
  • They spotted her
  1. When “he”, “him” and “her” have their / h/-less forms, / r/-liaison occurs when they are directly preceded by a word ending in an / r/-liaison vowel.
  • I swear he left; they fear him
  1. When “us” occurs directly after “let” as the first-person plural imperative, it reduces to /s/ and combines with “let” to form the contraction “let’s” /lets/ . In other contexts, “us” is /əs/.
  • Let’s go; let us go; tell us all; stop boring us
  1. In more casual speech, the /ð/ of “them” is often dropped when the preceding word ends in a consonant.
  • Release them now; grab them
  1. Of the remaining personal pronouns (“I”, “me”, “you”, “she”, “it”, “we”, “they”), “you” has the occasional weak from /jə/ before a word beginning with a consonant, especially in more casual speech, /ju/ otherwise.
  • Do it if you like. Possessive articles

Weak Strong
his ɪz hɪz ’hɪz
her ə ɜː hə ’hɜː
  1. “His” and “her” keep their /h/ after a pause.

  2. The weak form of the possessive adjective “her” varies between /ɜː/ and /ə/, the former being more common in most contexts.

After a pause, /hə/ is possibly more common than /hɜː/, and before a vowel, /ər/ is more common than /ɜːr/ (note the /r/-liaison).

  • Take her hand.
  • Her back hurts.
  • Watch her eyes.
  1. When “his” and “her” have their /h/-less forms, /r/-liaison occurs when they are directly preceded by a word ending in an /r/-liaison vowel.
  • Wear his hat.
  • She tore her dress.
  1. Of the remaining possessive adjectives (“my”, “your”, “its”, “our”, “their”), “your” often has the weak form /jə/ alongside unstressed /jɔː/, and “my” occasionally has the weak form /mə/.
  • Take your time.
  • Call my mother.
  1. The two pronunciations of “our”, /ɑː/ and /aʊə/, are not a weak form/strong form pair. The former pronunciation is much more common than the latter pronunciation in both stressed and unstressed contexts.

  2. The reflexive pronouns usually feature the weak form of the possessive preceding <-self>. The same rules for the /h/ apply.

  3. The possessive pronouns (“mine”, “yours”, “his”, “hers”, “its”, “ours”, “theirs”) are usually stressed and don’t have weak forms. Weak forms and contractions: articles and quantifiers

Weak Strong
a ə
an ən æn
the ðə ði ðiː
some səm sʌm
  1. “The” is pronounced /ðə/ before a consonant, /ði/ before a vowel.
  • Watch the game.
  • Watch the end.
  1. “Some” has a weak form when it means an indefinite number or amount’ and is used with uncountable and plural nouns as the equivalent of the indefinite article “a/an”.

The phrase “some more” is usually pronounced /sə ’mɔː/.

  • Take some pictures.
  • Get me some water.
  • I want some more.


Carley, P., and I. M. Mees. 2021. British English Phonetic Transcription. New-York: Taylor & Francis.