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Vowels in English

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Title: Vowels in English


1
English Phonetics
  • Topic 1. VOWELS IN ENGLISH

2
What is Phonetics?
  • Phonetics is the study of speech how speech is
    produced and how it is perceived.
  • The aim of phonetics is the development of
    theories of speech production and speech
    perception by means of experimental investigation
    of speech sounds in all languages.
  • Phonetics differs from phonology
  • The subject matter of phonology is the
    investigation of sound systems (primarily) by
    means of observation. The aim is to account for
    the organization of sound systems in different
    languages and to provide formal representations
    of them.

3
(No Transcript)
4
Importance of Phonetics
  • http//www.youtube.com/watch?vcJG0uErf8WY

5
The Organs of Speech
6
Organs of speech
7
Spanish/English Vowels
?
æ
?
8
Properties of Vowels
  • Most sonorant (audible) sounds
  • Sound is caused by vocal fold vibration
  • Usually function as syllable nuclei
  • Almost always voiced
  • Vowel sounds change according to SHAPE of vocal
    tract, no obstructions in vowels

9
Four Parameters of Vowels
  • Tongue HEIGHT
  • High / mid / low
  • Tongue BACKNESS
  • Front / central / back
  • Lip ROUNDING
  • Round / unround
  • Tenseness
  • Tense / lax

10
Vowels of English
high
Round
mid
11
Tongue Height
  • Put your hand under your chin and say seat, set,
    sat
  • High leak, lick, Luke, look
  • i, ?, u, u
  • Mid bait, bet, but, bought, boat
  • e?, e, ?, ?, ?u
  • Low cat, car
  • æ, a

12
Tongue Advancement
  • Front seek, sick, sake, sec, sack
  • i, ?, ei, e, æ
  • Central luck
  • ?
  • Back look, road, law, dot
  • u, ?u, ?, ?

13
Lip Rounding
  • In English, only the high and mid back vowels are
    produced with lip rounding
  • Round vowels u, u, o, ?
  • Unround vowels all the other vowels

14
Tenseness
  • Tense vowels
  • The tongue is at an extreme height or backness
  • Lax vowels
  • The tongue is not at an extreme position
  • Compare Pete and pit

15
Vowels in English
16
Diphthongs
  • A diphthong is a complex vowel where the tongue
    begins in one place and moves to another (a two
    part vowel sound)
  • The vowel diphthongs
  • ai bite
  • ?u bout
  • o? boy
  • ei stay ( is not a true English vowel sound)
  • (Also o go, though we may write this with one
    symbol)

17
Vowels
  • Vowels are determined by changes in position of
    the lips, tongue and palate.
  • These changes can be very slight and difficult to
    detect.
  • In English, vowels can also glide into (move
    quietly) one another to form diphthongs and even
    triphthongs.

18
Diphthongs Centring
  • Diphthongs are those sounds that consist of a
    movement or glide from one vowel to another.
  • The first part of a diphthong is always longer
    and stronger than the second part

19
Diphthongs Closing
20
Voiced/Voiceless
  • The level of vibration of the vocal cords
    determines whether a sound is voiced or unvoiced.
  • If the vocal cords are apart, then air can escape
    unimpeded. Sounds produced in this way are said
    to be voiceless.
  • If the vocal cords are very close together, the
    air will blow them apart as it forces its way
    through. This makes the cords vibrate, producing
    a voiced sound.
  • Exercises Try making the difference between them

21
Voiceless/Voiced
22
English Vowels
23
/i/
  • Production Being a long vowel, it almost sounds
    like a diphthong in RP. It is long enough to be
    one, but it does not actually glide into another
    vowel sound. The lips are only slightly spread.
  • Approximate Castilian Production. It is found in
    the tonic Castilian /i/ accompanied by dental or
    palatal consonants.
  • e.g. capilla, castillo, sí (emphatic), chino

24
  • Most important spellings that represent /i/
  • ee see, feed, bee.
  • ea read, eat.
  • ie shield, field.
  • e scene sin, be, these.
  • eo people
  • ey key
  • ay quay

25
Minimal Pairs.
read rid
Peach pitch
leap lip
feet fit
bean bin
seen sin
beach bitch
sheep ship
26
/i/
Production
  • When you say this vowel sound, the front of the
    tongue is raised towards the palate.
  • The position of the whole tongue is relatively
    high in the mouth, making it a closed vowel. The
    lips are slightly spread.

27
Approximate Castilian Production
  • In the first stages of learning English,
    Spanish-speakers usually have difficulties in
    distinguishing / i / and / i /, since both are
    varieties but dont make any difference in
    meaning.
  • We can find an approximate production when the
    Castilian /i/ is in unstressed position
  • e.g. Último, cursi, pitar.
  • The Castilian vowel is more closed and tenser,
    nevertheless as the English / i / is more
    relaxed and lightly more centralized, some
    perceive it as / e /, especially in words like
    these
  • e.g. milk, fill, pin.

28
Most important spellings that represent /i/
  • Mainly I and Y
  • Rich, lady, body, milk,
  • In unstressed position it may be represented by
    any vowel
  • Language læ?.gw?d? ,
  • wanted wOntid/wantid,
  • Money 'm?n.i ,
  • minute.'m?n.?t

29
/e/
  • Approximate Castilian Production.
  • The Castilian /e/ is usually more closed and
    tenser that the English equivalent. Nevertheless
    you can get a more open realization in the
    following cases
  • 1. when it is in contact with the vibrant / r /
    cerro,reto.
  • 2. followed by / x / (jota)
  • 3. diphthong / ei /

30
b. Most important spellings that represent /e/
  • Ea head, dead
  • E bed, pen, sell.
  • A many, any.

31
Minimal Pairs.
/i/ /e/
sit bid rid will till fill built set bed red well tell fell belt
32
/æ/
  • Approximate Castilian Production.
  • In Castilian there is not a similar vowel, on the
    other hand it is in the speech of many
    Valencians.
  • The most approximate sounds would be in syllables
    that had a palatal consonant.
  • e.g. chanza, ancha, llano, fallo.
  • A didactic resource would be to pronounce /e/
    and make a bigger separation between the jaws.

33
/æ/
  • Most important spellings that represent /æ/
  • a hand, match, lamp,

/æ / /e /
flash mass Rack (shelf) bad bag man pat flesh mess wretch bed beg men pet
34
/a /
  • Approximate Castilian Production.
  • It doesnt exist in Spanish. This sound and /æ/
    and /?/ are a focus of confusion for beginners.
  • Some Spanish people pronounce / g / as a
    guttural instead of velar, specially between
    vowels, this /a/ is similar to the English
    corresponding.
  • e.g. haga, traga, saga, ...
  • The important aspect is to give double quantity,
    because its a long vowel.

35
Most important spellings that represent /a/
  • a ask, grass, car.
  • er,ear clerk, heart
  • al half, calm.
  • au aunt, laugh

36
Minimal Pairs.
/ a / /æ/
March lark bark carp Barn match lack back cap ban
37
/?/
  • The organs of articulation maintain similar
    positions to the ones of /a /
  • The tongue and jaw are lowered as the back of the
    tongue is used to articulate this vowel.
  • The lips are slightly rounded.
  • Portal, cortar, cordial, loro.

38
Most important spellings that represent /?/
  • o not, box, dog.
  • a want, what, watch
  • au because
  • ou cough
  • ow knowledge

39
Minimal Pairs
/ ? / /?/
cop shot lock strong mock long gone cup shut luck strung muck lung gun
40
/?/
  • The difference between / ?/ and / ?/ is
    quantity.
  • For many Spanish speakers it sounds more
    proximate to /u/ than to /?/

41
Most important spellings
  • o horse
  • oor poor
  • ore more
  • aw saw, law
  • oar board.
  • ou bought
  • our four.
  • a all
  • au taught

42
Minimal Pairs.
/ ? / /?/
caught sport short stalk cot spot shot stock
43
/?/
Articulation The tongue and jaw are raised as
the back of the tongue is used to articulate this
vowel. Hence it is a back, close (high) vowel.
The lips are rounded.
Approximate Castilian Production. The Spanish
sound is produced at the back and it is more
tenser. A similar sound can be heard when it is
next to r and l hurto, pulso,
44
Most important spellings.
  • u full put.
  • oo book, look.
  • ou could, should.
  • o woman

45
/u/
  • Production This vowel is towards the back and is
    a close sound. The lips are only moderately
    rounded.

Approximate Castilian Production It is more
closed and tenser than the Spanish u ( apart
from being longer)
46
Most Important Spellings.
  • oo spoon, shoot, troop, boom.
  • ou soup, route
  • o do
  • u June, flu.
  • ew, ue, ui, oe jew, suit, shoe, blue.

47
Minimal Pairs.
/ u / / ?/
fool Luke cooed shoed pool full Look could should pull
48
/?/
  • ArticulationThis is a central vowel, and one
    which is more open than mid-ranged. The lip
    position is a neutral one.

Approximate Castilian Production This phoneme
together with /a/ and /æ/ is a focus of
confusion for Spanish speakers who can assimilate
it to an a sound. This sound seems to be more
approximate to the Spanish A when it is
accompanied by velar consonants regate, coja,
jaque,
49
Most important spellings.
  • u sun, run, fun.
  • o won, come, done.
  • ou country, southern, young.
  • oo blood, flood.

50
Minimal Pairs.
/? / /æ/
cup but run some uncle much cap bat ran Sam ankle match
/?/ /e /
money but won done many bet when den)
51
/?/ - /?/
  • Approximate Castilian Production.
  • There is no similar sound in Spanish.
  • This is a central vowel. The lips are not
    rounded.
  • A didactic procedure would be to produce a
    Spanish e and, little by little, to approximate
    it to an o, not reaching it.

52
Most important spellings
  • ir first
  • er serve
  • ear earth
  • ur nurse
  • or word
  • our journey

53
Minimal Pairs.
/? / /e /
bird learned turn burn world bed lend ten Ben wed
54
/?/
  • The schwa is an unstressed central vowel and is
    the most common vowel to appear in English.
  • There is no similar sound in Spanish. We tend to
    assimilate it to an unstressed e when it is not
    final (another- ?'n?ð.?r)
  • In final position we assimilate it to an a.
    (letter)

55
Most important spellings.
  • It has no regular character to represent it.
  • Any vowel or group of vowels may in unstressed
    position may represent /?/.

56
Minimal Pairs.
  • As it never occurs in stressed position, there
    are no contrastive elements.

57
References.
  • Alcaraz Varó, E and Moody, B.,1984, Fonética
    Inglesa para españoles. Alcoy Marfil.
  • Baker, Ann, 1981, Ship or Sheep? An intermediate
    pronunciation course, Cambridge, Cambridge
    University Press.
  • Baker, Ann, 1982, Tree or Three? An elementary
    pronunciation course, Cambridge, Cambridge
    University Press.
  • IPA (International Phonetic Association),
    available at
  • http//www.langsci.ucl.ac.uk/ipa/
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