29. The sounds and allophones of Taiwan English III
(with sample allophonic rules)

     Note: Make sure that you have the Lucida Sans Unicode font installed in your computer so that the IPA symbols will display correctly.

     If you have done your best to come up with your own 'allophonic rules' of Taiwan English, you can compare your work with this list. It is incomplete, and the rules may need further refining. See if you can come up with any improvements, or add further rules, based on your knowledge or a recorded sample (see next page) of Taiwan English.

Some sample allophonic rules of Taiwan English:

(1) /ks/, when represented by x in the orthography, is often simplified to [s] Example: excuse
(2) /θ/ is often replaced by [s]. Example: thank.
(3) /h/ is often realized as [x]. Examples: him, husband, how.
(4) Syllable-final /n/ is often deleted, leaving only a nasalized vowel before it. Examples: mine, the one in the stupid green sweater.
(5) Word-final /əm/ is often realized as [ən]. Examples (these do not appear in the sample): system, wisdom.
(6) Final voiced stops are usually completely devoiced, if they are pronounced at all. Examples: made, jog.
(7) Final stops are often deleted, even when the word ends with a grammatical /s/ ending. Examples: stupid, good, at, bought, like, pants, it's.
(8) Dark /l/ ([ɫ]), together with the preceding vowel if there is one, is often realized as [oʊ]. Example: also, cold.
(9) Postvocalic /r/ is often dropped. Examples: are, warm, person, learn, first, for.
(10) Epenthetic [ə] sometimes added before the approximant in consonant clusters. Examples: black, England.
(11) Initial /ð/ often replaced by [l] or [d]. Examples: they, them, the.
(12) Nasals are often determined allophonically by the backness of the preceding vowel; a nasal after the back vowels
/oʊ/, /ɔ/, /ʌ/, /ɑ/ tends to be realized as a velar nasal [ŋ]; a nasal after the non-high front vowels /ɛ/ or /æ/ tends to be realized as alveolar [n]; though a nasal after high or mid-high front /i/ or /ɪ/ is usually [ŋ], and a nasal after the high and mid-high back vowels /u/ or /ʊ/ is usually [n]. Examples: want, months, in, been, run, (sometimes) him.
(13) /z/ often realized as [s] when written as s in the orthography. Examples: is, days, shoes, those, husband.

/ɪ/ and /i/are often confused. Examples: is, him, if, seat, need, teacher.
(2) /eɪ/ in pre-consonantal position is often pronounced [æ] . Examples: taken, made.
(3) /oʊ/ is often realized as [ɔ]. Examples: no, so.
(4) The diphthong /aɪ/ is often simplified to the monophthong [a]. Examples: nice, I.
(5) /ɛ/ is often replaced by [eɪ] or [æ]. Examples: weather, next.
(6) /ʌ/ is often realized as [ɑ]. Examples: husband, months, funny.
(7) /ʊ/ is often replaced by [u]. Examples: look, should, good.
(8) /ɔ/ is often replaced by [o]. Examples: talk, long.
(9) /ɑ/ is often replaced by [ɔ] when orthographically written as o. Examples: not, John, Tom.

Stress and timing:
(1) Function words such as pronouns and prepositions in non-contrastive positions are often stressed. Examples: next to him, talking about, you should try it.
(2) Content words often destressed where they should not be. Example: for so many days, first time, those men, really good.
(3) Repeated information is often not destressed. Examples: This is my first time to jog this month. Do you like jogging?
(4) The modified nominal element of nominal compounds is not destressed. Examples: jogging shoes, P.E. teacher.
(5) Syllables are often either too long or too short. Examples: The wrong vowel in the first syllable of husband (/ɑ/ rather than /ʌ/) makes this syllable too long; final /i/ (y in the orthography) is also often made too long; the vowel in jog is pronounced too short; /ɔ/ is diphthongized (as [ɔə]) and fairly long in American English.

     These pages have been rather dense and 'heavy' in content, but the ideas in them are important in a study of phonetics, phonology, and English pedagogy, and in improving your own pronunciation, if you are a speaker of 'Taiwan English' or other related variety of English. In spite of how broadly these 'rules' or tendencies apply, this area of inquiry has hardly been touched on in current research, so it is a direction you might fruitfully pursue if interested.

     Taiwan English is only one of the countless varieties of foreign-accented English, or 'national EFL (English as a foreign language) dialects'. People from each language group of the world have their own characteristic patterns of English pronunciation. What are these patterns? And to what extent can these patterns be related to the phonetics and phonological system of the native tongue of the EFL speaker? The next page offers links to some outstanding online resources which you can use to start to answer these and other related questions. You will find several representative examples of Taiwan English, too!

Next: Foreign accents and national EFL dialects (with links to audio file databases)

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Last updated May 1, 2005