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Muse - Thought Contagion Options
teregudi
Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 3:58:00 PM

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Since I didn't find a pronunciation topic I decided it fits best here. No one has answered my repeatedly asked question below the video and I'm very curious now.

So here's this Muse song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQ_3S-IQm38

Why does he sing the word "contagion" so oddly? Instead of "t" I hear an "s" and instead of "g" I hear a "t", as if he said something like "consaeton". I've asked a few people (Hungarian people) and all of them agree that it sounds strange. I've even watched a video where Muse talks about this song but they say "contagion" correctly in that video. And no one seems to notice this thing based on the comments below the video. Why's that? Do I have some problem with my hearing? Please help me to understand this thing.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 4:24:45 PM

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Feels fine to me. (Southern BrE)

When you say the word normally, the 't' is just your tongue pulling away from the inside of your front teeth- cont -as- ion.
When you enunciate each syllable with separate stress, like this song requires, your tongue can go further forward and pull back between your teeth more forcefully, making a bit of an 'sss' sound before the t.
Just pulling back from behind your teeth is not strong enough to make a stressed t sound - con -tas -ion
You need to do that - you can't stress cont -as- ion as effectively.

as for the '- agion', I find nothing odd there. It is more like 'asian' than 'agent' but within normal parameters. Whistle

The group are from Devon, but it is not an especially West Country speech pattern - they don't have much of an accent even in normal speech.
NKM
Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2018 6:34:00 PM

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Not my kind of song, but "contagion" sounds normal enough to me — not quite as it would normally be spoken in conversation, but well within the bounds imposed by being sung.

Especially when sung by a group (or with "special effects" augmentation), "stop" consonants (like "t" and "p") often take on some of the properties of continuant sounds. That can happen when the "instantaneous" pronunciation is actually heard more than once, with overlapping occurrences during the course of a few milliseconds.

teregudi
Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2018 5:47:07 AM

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Thank you for your thorough replies! Maybe it's something like the Laurel-Yanny phenomenon, you must have heard that record on Youtube. I hear a slightly different word from "contagion" but you say it sounds totally fine. Maybe I should ask the singer himself :D
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2018 6:32:16 AM

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It sounds fine to me as well as a version of contagion that is sung.

Many of us here are old enough that we listen to music on the radio, cd or even vinyl not via YouTube.

I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
Romany
Posted: Friday, September 28, 2018 4:37:57 AM
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teregudi -

to me it sounds exactly as you have described it and, if I didn't know what the word was supposed to be I too, would have had to find out!

Remember that vocals are laid down on top of the sound - which may also comprise over-lays and fx. Perhaps when the final mix was made the vocals were affected by the electronic under-lays which resulted in that "ess" sound. If we were to hear the vocals as they were recorded and before they got laid down it would probably sound quite different and the word would be clear.
teregudi
Posted: Friday, September 28, 2018 12:58:04 PM

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Romany wrote:
teregudi -

to me it sounds exactly as you have described it and, if I didn't know what the word was supposed to be I too, would have had to find out!

Remember that vocals are laid down on top of the sound - which may also comprise over-lays and fx. Perhaps when the final mix was made the vocals were affected by the electronic under-lays which resulted in that "ess" sound. If we were to hear the vocals as they were recorded and before they got laid down it would probably sound quite different and the word would be clear.


Thank you for your confirmation! I'm glad to read I'm not the only one who find that word a bit odd :) Your theory sounds plausible, maybe it's the mixing of different sound effects that distorted that word. After all, the singer really is able to say contagion normally, I've heard it myself :)
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 5:09:25 AM

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I just listened to (half of) the song - I couldn't be bothered continuing.

I'm surprised you asked about just one word. Though the singer seems to be pronouncing his words reasonably well, I had difficulty understanding any of it due to the other "Oooweeeooowwaah" voices.

The "-gion" is normally pronounced similarly (not quite identically) to the "-sion" of 'persuasion'.

As far as I remember, it is a little like the Hungarian letter 'z' (not 'sz' or 'zs') - or half-way between Hungarian 'z' and 's'. (In phonetics they are shown as (persuasion) /ʒ/ or (contagion) //)



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
teregudi
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 4:31:33 AM

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Yeah, the dʒ sound is like the Hungarian "dzs", and the ʒ is like our "zs". But that certain word in that certain song lacks for both :)
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 7:02:46 AM

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Ah! - I remember 's' (like "sh" in English"), and "sz" (like our "ss" in "loss") and that "a" sounds like "o" - but beyond that I usually have to ask.

PS. Did you ever finish 'Blue Remembered Earth?'


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
teregudi
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 5:08:41 PM

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Yes, we use 's' the opposite way - wa spell it like your "sh" when it stands alone, and when we want to use it as your 's' we put a 'z' behind it :) Well, I wouldn't say our 'a' sounds like your 'o' - actually, I think there is no English equivalent for that sound. Hungarians can spell most of the English vowels and consonants more or less correctly (we have many letters in our ABC!) but there is a consonant we usually have trouble with. It is the sound 'th' - either in "math" or "the", both version is unfamiliar to us. We try to spell it as a mixture of 'f' and 's' in the first case, and we say something like 'd' in the second. And we also dislike your 'w' because we only know 'v', so when we come across a word with a 'w' we usually say a simple 'v' - even though we know it is like a very short 'u' :)

Yes, I've finished that book. It was hard enough to translate so I didn't accept the second volume... I don't have that much time for one single task. I've put translating aside for a while, I have another business nowadays - I learn some other kind of language called Java ;)
Hope123
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 8:21:01 PM

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Teregudi wrote: I learn some other kind of language called Java ;)

Hi Teregudi. Did you know if you are a coffee drinker you install Java every day? Whistle Whistle Whistle

Seriously, learning Java or any program is exactly like learning a whole new language. I started once as a lark until I figured out how much work it was going to be.

Elitism is the slur directed at merit by mediocrity. -Sydney J. Harris, journalist (14 Sep 1917-1986)
teregudi
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018 3:57:21 AM

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Hope123, I haven't heard of that fact about the relationship of coffee and Java, but I'll keep it in mind ;)
I know it won't be easy and I am not sure if I'll be able to learn programming or not, but I want to give it a chance 'cause I'm interested in it - for now, at least :) I'll see if my enthusiasm will last long enough to achieve my goal.
What language did you start to learn?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018 5:44:38 AM

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Used to go to a cafe down south called 'Java & Jazz'. Now it's a 'high-class' "gelateria-pizzaria" which looks 'super-posh' but since I don't need any jelly towers, I've not been there lately.

*******
I have several Hungarian friends - one is Gabriella and the other Hungarians tend to call her "Gobby" (whereas other people say "Gabi").
Another is called something like Szoloszi Botond - but what I have written as four "o" letters should actually be four different vowels (and I can never quite remember which is which). o, ö, ó and ő - I think - each one pronounced differently.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
RuthP
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2018 2:43:33 PM

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Drag0nspeaker wrote:
Used to go to a cafe down south called 'Java & Jazz'. Now it's a 'high-class' "gelateria-pizzaria" which looks 'super-posh' but since I don't need any jelly towers, I've not been there lately.

*******
I have several Hungarian friends - one is Gabriella and the other Hungarians tend to call her "Gobby" (whereas other people say "Gabi").
Another is called something like Szoloszi Botond - but what I have written as four "o" letters should actually be four different vowels (and I can never quite remember which is which). o, ö, ó and ő - I think - each one pronounced differently.

In Hungarian, the letter pairs a, á; e, é; i, í; o, ó; ö,ő; u, ú; ü, ű are considered short (on the left of each pair) and long (on the right) vowels. This is literally the length of time the vowel is spoken, with the long vowels being voiced about 1.5 times as long (half-again as long) as the short vowels. Umlauts, the double dots, cause the same change in sound they do in German and, again, the long form is voiced 1.5 times as long as the short form.

For all vowel pairs, except a and e, the only change between long and short is the length of time the vowel is sounded.

The basic, short Hungarian "a" is usually described as English "aw", as in "awful". This is not too bad; it's as close as we can come in English, but in truth, Hungarian rounds that letter even more than "aw". It is not quite the English long "o" of dote or coat (that is the Hungarian "o"), but it is halfway or more between "aw" and long "o". To a native English speaker, it will sound like "o" until one is thoroughly familiar with Hungarian, probably meaning one is speaking it oneself. The long "á" is pretty much like the English "a" in "all", or the "o" in "hot". It is not like "hat" or "cat". That sound does not exist in Hungarian.

The basic, short Hungarian "e" is like the English "e" in "bed". The long one is harder. It has a sound verging on the English long "a", but (again) not there. The final "é" in the borrowed word "café" is right, except that in English we form a little diphthong with that vowel and join a little "y" sound on the end. (We do that with a lot of vowels and in many words, AE probably more than BE, but still . . .) That does not happen in Hungarian. There are no diphthongs in Hungarian. The vowel sound, whatever it is, is pure all the way through.

These differences are important. Long and short vowels are not interchangeable and result in completely different words. One which is very commonly used, and which native English speakers often (often) screw up (much to the amusement of Hungarians) is egészségedre, which is used in much the same way Germans use "Gesundheit".

It may help if I break the word down. Hungarian accretes much of grammar onto a base word. So, here we have egészség: health (good health); ed: a particle referring to "you" or "your"; re: a postposition which, in this case, means "to" (Hungarian uses postpositions rather than prepositions, and like all pre-/post-positions, which one is "right" in any given language is pretty random compared with any other language.). Egészségedre: to your good health, used as a toast, or after you sneeze, like "Gesundheit".

So what happens to English speakers? Well, for some reason, it is easier to say "egészsegedre" than "egészségedre". One vowel different there. Let's break down the new word: egész: whole, entire, complete; seg: rear end; ed: your; re: in this context, the postposition most reasonably translates as "onto". Now, you are (moving, falling) onto your entire rear-end. Yep. The joys of speaking a foreign language and making a fool of oneself. Which I can say with conviction as I once made that exact mispronunciation in front of a formal group. d'oh!
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