To pronounce or not to pronounce

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by Calvario, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    Hola a todos mis amigos, mucho tiempo no hablo.

    In looking at the pronunciation for several words, for this example those starting in "V", many times the V is not pronounced but rather an accent mark is in its place.

    VZMÁHAT SE is pronounced / 'zmáhat se/ grow, increase, improve.
    VZPOURA is prounced / ' zpoura / mutiny.

    While other words have the V sound included

    VZRUŠIT is prounced / vzrušit / excite, upset.

    Why is the "V" prounced in some words and not others but rather an accent in its place? This is according to how my dictionary is at least written. There are a lot more examples and not all just words starting with V. So my question is if my dictionary is correct what is the reason for pronouncing the V or not? Possibly to do with voiced and unvoiced obstuents.

    Thanks ,
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, i don't know.

    Personaly, I think I say "v" same way in all these tree words.
  3. fabik317

    fabik317 Well-Known Member

    yes, the V should always be pronounced, at least in standard czech
  4. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Definitely you have to pronounce it. And very clearly.

    We need it to distinguish the prefix “vz-” from the prefix “z-”.

    vzrušit (= excite) × zrušit (= cancel)

    zmoci (= be able, manage, overcome, defeat / tire out, exhast) × vzmoci (= become rich/powerfull)
  5. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    Appreciate your input, I kinda thought it was just my dictionary but I wasn't sure.

  6. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    I should add that the verbal prefix vz- is pronounced either /vz-/ or /fs-/ like in "vzpoura" /fspoura/. The pronunciation /spoura/ is merely a laziness.
  7. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    The pronunciation depends on the next consonant:
    vzmáhat se (vzmáhat se)
    vzdělávat (vzd...)
    vzdor (vzdor)
    vzpoura (fspoura)
    vzrtah (fstah)
    vztlak (fstlak)

    It may be even pronounced vztlak, vzpoura, but this is not common and may be considered hypercorrect. 8)
  8. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    In looking at my book I can see why some change to "f" and some do not. There is a chart that clearly demonstrates the changes

    1-VZDOR (vzd..) all 3 consonants are voiced obstruents

    2-VZTLAK (fst..) because the end on the consonant cluster(T) is unvoiced the first two consonants must follow suit. Taking up their unvoiced counterpart.

    VOICED b v d z d' ž g h
    UNVOICED p f t s t' š k ch

    If a consonant cluster end in a voiced consonant then the preceeding consonants would be pronounced voiced

    Also voiced consonants become voicless at the END of a word.
    EX. LET and LED will both be pronounced (let) d is voiced so it must change to it's voicles counterpart due to its last position in the word.

    Anyways, withpout this chart it 's difficult to keep track.

  9. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    In standardised pronunciation, it HAS to be pronounced [vz] or [fs] according to rules of assimilation.

    In nonstandard (colloquial) Czech, when there is no counterpart with only z-, the [v] is often ommitted probably to facilitate the pronunciation.


    "vzmáhat se" can be sometimes pronounced [zma:hat se] instead of correct [vzmáhat se]
    "vzpoura" can be sometimes pronounced [spoura] instead of correct [fspoura]


    "vzrušit se" can is almost never pronounced as [zrušit se] as it would be confused with word "zrušit".

    I always recommend the full correct pronunciation as it is clear. I doubt any of learners has pronunciation good enough to have negligent pronunciation (no offense, of course, it is a general counsel when learning any foreign language).

    some remarks on the assimilation -

    there are three types of consonants in Czech:
    unique (or sonorants - all voiced but for the purpuses of this example they are separated group as they function distinctively)

    voiced are:
    b, v, d, z, ž, ď, g, h
    their unvoiced counterparts are:
    p, f, t, s, š, ť, k, x

    to be exact, [h] is not voiced counterpart of [x] as [x] is velar fricative and [h] is glottal fricative - those two consonants are parts of larger three-consonantic system with a sound I will mark as G (voiced velar fricative, not confuse with [g] which is voiced velar occlusive)

    [h] when preceeded or followed by an unvoiced (or at the and of the word) is assimilated to [x]
    eg.: pluh ['plux], shořet ['sxořet], pluh tvého otce ['plux'tve:ho'?ottse]

    [x] when followed by a voiced consonant is assmilated to [G]
    e.g.: kdybych byl ['gdibiG'bil]

    [G] is not a phoneme of Czech language (it does not have a distinctive value), it is only positional variant of [x] when it is followed by a voiced consonant

    Another problem is with [v]. [v] is normally voiced labiodental fricative but in fact it has some variants:
    when followed by a vowel, it is often a so called verberant, or flap, it is pronounced very quickly without any friction (I will mark it as [V] )
    e.g.: ovoce [oVoce]
    when followed by a consonant, it is ordinary fricative and can be assimilated to [f]
    e.g.: v baráku ['vbara:ku], v pytli ['fpitli]

    But what is more important, [v] does not cause assimilation of preceeding consonant - why? because when preceeded by a consonant, it is always followed by a vowel, so it is not a fricative but a verberant (which is in turn a sonorant, the sonorants are unique - they do not assimilate nor do they cause assimilation)
    e.g.: tvůj ['tVu:j], svůj ['sVu:j], svině ['sviňe],...

    And there are unique consonants:
    m, n, ň, N, l, r, j
    (where N is velar nasal occlusive a positional variant of [n] before [k] or [g] English orthography it is marked with letters <ng> as in "doing" )

    As I have already written, unique consonants do not assimilate, nor do they cause assimilation
    e.g.: tma [tma] (not [dma]), snést ['sne:st], snít ['sňi:t], trvat ['trVat], tlachat ['tlaxat],...
    at the frontier of words, if the first ends by a voiced consonant, the sonority is neutralised and even if followed by a unique (voiced) consonant, it is not renewed
    e.g.: pluh mého otce ['plux'me:ho'?ottse]
  10. Kanadanka

    Kanadanka Well-Known Member

    as fascinating as all this is, is there a more "folksy" way of explaining the pronunciation instead of the laborious, textbook explanations? Although my degree (and in fact my work) is in exactly this area, I doubt majority of the readers here fully comprehend what this means.
    If we want to teach others about our language, we need to find a way to make ourselves understood to the majority instead of drowning it in jargon.
    Just an opinion - clear language is the key in Canada and even most of our reports today are written in "clear English" with "everyday language" to make it useful to most people.
  11. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Yes, audio version :)
  12. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    Do they have that audio version for kindergarten level? Ha ha j/k

  13. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well, I don't know about audio, but maybe this is good first step ;))

  14. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    Sorry, no it is not possible. Language is a very complicated system and I tried to make the system clearer. Of course one may say that p,t,k,s,... are pronounced as b,d,g,z,... if followed by pronounced b,d,g,z... but it is not very systemic, it is a matter of memorisation. If someone studies a language, it is sometimes necessary to adopt some complicated terminology. What I try is to describe the system in order to reduce the amount of things which need to be remembered to a few clear rules instead of making a huge list of singular entities.

    I admit that the text I wrote may be a little bit complicated but if there is anything unclear, you are free to ask.
    If you are confused with the terminology - assimilation, voiced, unvoiced, sonority, fricatives, occlusives etc. I can explain it.

    However, I am planning to resume my posts concerning Czech pronunciation into a larger, more comprehensive whole with remarks on the differences between Czech and other languages and some simplified linguistic apparatus of terminology that will allow most people to understand the system. The main problem with Czech pronunciation is, that it is very systematic, but the system itself is somehow complicated. On the other hand, English pronunciation is not very systematic, English word is rather a hieroglyph. If you see a word, you often do not know how it is pronounced - you have to know its menaning and its pronunciation.
    E.g.: If you see isolated word "bow" you never know whether it is pronounced [bou] or [bau]. It depends on whether it is a noun or verb respectively. But if you see a Czech word however full of assimilations, phonological neutralisations and things, you almost always know how to pronounce it, even if you have never seen seen such a word before.
  15. Kanadanka

    Kanadanka Well-Known Member

    I have no problem understanding any of the terminology - my masters is in a field that encompasses linguistics. I am talking about the readers in the general population who likely hope for a short, clear explanation. Perhaps when using words like "assimilation" or "co-articulation", a short explanation of the term (in plain english) would be helpful. Such as "plosives" or "stops" could be explained as "consonants that are pronounced by blocking the air and then allowing the air to "explode" out - such as p,b,t,d,k,g..)
    Hallmark of a good teacher is the ability to get around jargon, to explain himself in clear, simplified terms, and still manage to convey the necessary information. I believe that is also how a real scholars are able to communicate, since by fully understanding their own topic, they become capable of explaining it in everyday vocabulary.
  16. Calvario

    Calvario Well-Known Member

    Well, on a lighter note. I have this question.

    I am from America
    Jsem z Ameriky. Pronounced : [ 'sem] [s Ameriky]

    Is this correct? If so, is it correct because the [j] sound is dropped when it is the initial letter in a word and preceeds a consonant. [z] changes to here because it is a voiced consonat that is preceeding a noun that begins with a vowel, the consonant of the prep. becomes voiceless.

    If these are not true statements then please correct me before I continue in the wrong direction.

    Thank you,
  17. Karel_lerak

    Karel_lerak Well-Known Member

    Standard pronunciation is with the j on beginning.
    Dropping it is rather common, but careless.
    jde - de
    jsem - sem
    jho - cannot be dropped, would be not understood
    jméno - méno (dropping not common)
    jmelí - never heard without j :)

    Přijel jsem sem z Ameriky. I came from America.

    Pronunciation "s'ameriky" is common in Bohemia, "zameriky" in Moravia.
    nashledanou - Czech pronunciation "naschledanou"
    Moravian "nazhledanou"
  18. fabik317

    fabik317 Well-Known Member

    pronouncing pronouns starting with "js" both with and without the 'j' is correct Czech, in other cases you should always pronounce it.
  19. Eleshar

    Eleshar Well-Known Member

    "jsem" with [j] is obligatory when it is not an auxilliary verb.

    byl jsem ['bil sem]
    jsem z Ameriky [jsem 's?ameriki]

    Of course that in colloquial pronunciation, it is reduced almost always.

    I have never proclaimed myself a teacher, especially a good teacher :wink:
    And as I explained, in my planned BPP (i.e. Big Pronunciation Post), I am going to explain all those wonderful terms and give some basics of articulatory mechanisms in general.
  20. Kanadanka

    Kanadanka Well-Known Member


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