The foop-baw World Cup

A FIFA World Cup themed post on phonetics today.

The first unit in the applied linguistics post-grad course I studied through Monash University was an introduction to the basics of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and so on, because the course was designed for people like me who had not necessarily studied any linguistics at undergraduate level.  I really enjoyed it. It’s quite interesting to listen closely to how we really say things – and the difference between how you speak when you are paying attention to it and when you are not. As an example,  most Australians I know will swear blind that they always say ‘advance’ with a long ‘a’ sound like the British pronunciation. But in a quick off the cuff question asking for the name of Australia’s national anthem, at least half said it the Australian way with the vowel sound being /æː/.

In American English, typically football is pronounced with the two syllables /fʊt/ and /bɑl/. It really made me laugh when I read how most Australians say /fʊp/ /boː/ instead – we say a ‘p’ sound instead of the ‘t’ and omit the ‘ll’ on the end. Listen next time you hear the commentators say it on TV. I particularly love how we say ‘international football’ – it’s like ‘innernashunl foop-baw’.

And while we’re on the World Cup, I just read a phonetics blog post about those vuvuzelas and why it might be hard for broadcasters to screen out their noise!


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