I've been away from this forum for a while, and meantime I've enrolled for a five-year (gulp!) degree in English (which includes grammar, literature, linguistics, and so on) at a distance university. Right now I'm starting to delve into English phonetics (using "Gimson's Pronunciation of English", which is the recommended textbook), and while I like the subject, I find it very hard. I don't think it'll improve my pronunciation at all, not having an 'Enry 'Iggins to hand, but I'm doing my best. I suppose the internet's got many resources, but having no internet connection at home and not much time to search, I cannot take much advantage of them.

I've written down a list of doubts I've already got, with a view to browsing the forums calmly looking for answers. But for now I'd like to ask you a question. I am trying to figure out the differences among the different English accents so as to be able to tell one from the others. I am listening to Tom Jones and trying to make out whatever there is of Welsh in his accent. Does he really sing I'm not talking about his speaking accent, which I don't know with a Welsh accent? All I can say is I can understand him pretty well (that's not very common in me, I'm afraid), but I couldn't tell what characterizes his accent for all the tea in China! I only notice something that sounds strange to me in the final sound of words like "give" or "live", but I cannot tell what it is (and I've found no explanation about that in my phonetics book).

Thanks a lot in advance.
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I might be mistaken because I'm not really into phonetics, but I don't think it's useful to look into an accent by analyzing the way one sings.

If you want to listen to Welsh accents (or to accents from various parts of the UK), I recommend BBC Voices. You'll find clips like the ones in this page , and a map to choose locations from.
Yeah, accents in songs are... different or fake. Most singers sound pretty much like Americans with a non-rhotic accent, no matter where they are from.
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Yes, I thought it might be so. But, as I said before, I haven't got a steady access to the internet, so for me it's difficult to spend time listening to all those clips, and I thought that the easiest way, at least to begin with, would be to listen to all the albums I've got. Do you happen to know of a site with clips I can download (many at a time) so I can take them home and listen to them there?

Focus on the variation of vowels in various accents: phonetic differences. Sometimes, you can see phonemic differences as is the case between BrE and AmE.

Most of the transcriptions are broad, like the ones we see in dictionaries. Mastering narrow transcription, which requires you to train your ears to notice all variations/subtlities, is the key to understand variatiations.
Thanks a lot. In my five-vowel world, just telling /Ʊ/ from /u:/ would be a success, so I'm afraid I'm not quite prepared to perceive those differences yet Emotion: crying.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Instead of worrying about perceptions (auditory phonetics), try to produce variations (articulatory phonetics): how to produce a fronted /u:/ ?

You have to formulate your worries into a set of problems, and then attack systematically. This is part of any cognitive activity: learning or producing knowledge.
raindoctorInstead of worrying about perceptions (auditory phonetics), try to produce variations (articulatory phonetics): how to produce a fronted /u:/ ?

That seems a very good idea. I think I might try to change from one vowel to the other by knowing whether I must make it more to the front, to the back, more open... But I don't know how I can know whether I'm producig the right vowel, or any other. Are there mp3 recordings of isolated vowels that are long enough so I can try to adjust the vowel I produce to the vowel I hear, and then maintain it for some time? I should try to save them in my computer so I can practice at home.

The only way to hear a difference is listening to contrasting pairs, in my opinion. Minimal pairs, you know.
Beat - bit
fool - full

If you have such major problems, then maybe you could start with an accent reduction course. For American English, there's American Accent Training by Ann Cook, and it's so popular that it's very easy to find it online (warning: downloading it for free might be illegal in your country). There's a good one on British English too, but I don't remember the name.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
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