The Story of Sounds: Episode 23: Discovering the vowel /ʌ/ part 2

You can think of a vowel as the result of a certain position of the tongue, jaw and lips. You can also think of a vowel sound as the result of a shape (of the tongue) and a resonant space (created by lip shape and jaw height). I find the second view helpful. The fact is that vowels are not at fixed places like consonants, but are on an endless continuum, each vowel merging at some point into another vowel. And that is why we need to learn the vowels holistically, all together alongside each other, because each helps define the ones around it. And, where one becomes another will vary from one accent or variety to another. At the same time it is useful to zoom in to work on one vowel in detail, to zoom back a bit and work on two vowels together (sometimes referred to as minimal pairs, but see below) and to zoom further back to put them all in the context of each other.

Minimal pairs generally refers to two sounds that are produced close together in the mouth, so they may be confused with each other both acoustically and proprioceptively. In the case of vowels, the following would be considered minimal pairs: beat:bit; pit:put; look:Luke. And in the case of/ʌ/: bad:bud /bæd/bʌd/; bud:bard /bʌd/bɑː(r)d/ are minimal pairs

In this approach (Sound Foundations, based on the physicality of pronunciation) there are three aspects to work on minimal pairs, and all three are needed to maximise insight and learning. Our received methodology recognises the first, but (in my view) insufficiently recognises the other two, thereby disadvantaging learners. Here are the three:

1.. Traditional minimal pairs (ship:sheep /ɪ/ and /iː/ ) practised in contrast with each other

2..Dynamic sliding along a continuum between the two vowels /ɪ/ à /iː/, thereby enabling learners to sense the movements of the muscles and the acoustic change

3.. Putting the two vowels back into context of all the vowels and contrasting each with all their other neighbours.

You are all familiar with no 1, so I will illustrate work on /ʌ/ using no 2.

Here is a Travel guide for two such journeys using/ʌ/

Journey 1 from /ǝ/ to /ʌ/

1.. Find the sound /ǝ/ in your mouth. This requires zero muscle tone (ie letting go of any muscle effort) in lips, tongue and jaw. Now voice that shape with minimal breath and volume. If you can’t find the sound readily, then start with the longer energised version /ɜː/ and minimise breath, energy, volume and length. For more on how to produce these two sounds refer back to Episode 18 and Episode 19

2.. Now introduce muscle tone, breath and volume and slide the tongue down a bit (lower it), creating more space above it in the mouth. Also lower the jaw a little to help create that space. This will also open the lips a little, which alters the resonance of the space.

3.. In doing this slide make sure you voice the whole slide, as if you were saying a diphthong, so that you hear a vowel at the beginning and at the end and between them a continuum of changing vowel sound. This helps you to notice the change in vowel sound, which may be quite small, and to notice the very small muscle movements that produce the change. You will still need to experiment to find the sound /ʌ/, and at first you may not be sure if you have found it.

4.. Now compare both the sound and the mouth shape and space of /ʌ/ with other monophthong vowels on the chart, just to get the acoustic and proprioceptive feel of this sound and how it differs from others. If you keep experimenting with small changes you will be freeing yourself from the grip of your mother tongue pronunciation (if that is what you wish) and developing the awareness you need to fine tune the sound in due course, and to make the best use of models given by other speakers in person or through recordings.

Journey 2 From /ʌ/ to /ɪ/ yielding the diphthong /aɪ/…

Yes I know! /ʌɪ/ does not look like /aɪ/…For their own reasons phoneticians designing the International Phonetic Alphabet chose the symbol /a/ as the starting point for the glide to /ɪ/ that produces the diphthong /aɪ/ as in five, my, height. However /a/ is not used as a solo vowel, so I use its nearest equivalent /ʌ/ as the starting point for the glide, while continuing to use the symbol /aɪ/ for that diphthong (because /aɪ/ is used in the dictionary).

This causes no problem as we teachers and our learners are essentially interested in phonemic distinctions rather in the phonetic differences that interest language scientists

1.. Locate the separate sounds /ʌ/and /ɪ/

2.. Now join them together with a long slow voiced glide /ʌ/ à /ɪ/ from one to the other. Notice the spectrum of vowel sounds in between. Do this both slowly and quickly. And also do the journey in the other direction from /ɪ/ to /ʌ/ to produce the glide /ɪ ʌ/

Final reminder: The aim of all this attention to detail is for learners to become comfortably understood by their listeners, and to be able to understand other speakers comfortably themselves. Connected speech requires attention to individual movements, in the service of smooth connected speech, just as a complete ballet requires dancers to attend to multiple small details of movement in the service of the connected up whole. My aim is not to get learners to be ‘perfect’ but to show them that they can be free to choose their own accent and variety, starting off with the accents of their teachers others they hear and meet in person and through recordings.  Have fun!

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The Story of Sounds: Episode 22: Discovering the vowel /ʌ/ part 1

In the previous 21 episodes of the Story of Sounds we have explored 24 consonants and 8 monophthong vowels. I have tried to tell their stories from the inside, not offering the external technical descriptions you might find in a phonetics handbook, but guiding you towards the internal kinaesthetic sensation, the internal signposts to look for when you are actually trying to find or make or rehearse of alter a sound in your own mouth, throat, lungs, nose.. This internal feeling or sensation concerning which muscles you are moving and how much pressure you are applying is referred to by neurologists and physiologists as proprioception. When we learn any new physical skill (touch typing, dance, a musical instrument, knitting, a sport, etc) we rely on our proprioceptive sense to take us beyond the initial clumsy movements to a smoother faster more fluent movements.

Go here for my post on proprioception. And here for the video of my plenary workshop last week on proprioception.

Our sense of proprioception enables us to get behind our habitual repertoire of movements and to learn the sophisticated movements and coordinations that relate to the new activity. It is the same with pronunciation, where we find ourselves in the grip of our mother tongue, necessarily habituated to the muscle movements and postures that make the mother tongue sounds.

So to learn a new set of sounds we are not starting from zero, but from a set of L1 habits that yield a set of distinctive sounds, many of which are not quite the ones we need for the new language (even if some are ‘close enough’). And we find ourselves in the grip of muscular habits. And this is where we need our sense of proprioception, to help us feel and sense the muscles enough to interrupt their habit and to tweak their movement. But if you are not connected with your sense of proprioception, it is less likely that you can liberate yourself sufficiently from the mother tongue grip, of if you do it will be more by chance, and you may be less able to find your way back to the new sound later.

I said this post was about /ʌ/, but I have spent a little time on these other matters which I think are fundamental. I intend in the next few posts to deal with the rest of the vowels and diphthongs and to complete the Story of Sounds. Meanwhile I invite you to revisit Episode 14 and Episode 15 which contain insights that affect the learning of all vowels, and also to look at the proprioception links given above.

But just to introduce /ʌ/ and the next post: /ʌ/ is an interesting sound. Some native speakers articulate it in a way that is close to /ǝ/, and others do not use the sound, substituting /ʊ/ in its place. It is also quite close acoustically to its two horizontal neighbours on the chart / æ/ and /ɑː/

I hope this has been useful or interesting. Next post in a few days will be Discovering the vowel /ʌ/ part 2!

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Videos from Feb 21st Accentuate Conference, London

Videos from Saturday’s Conference “Accentuate: Bringing pronunciation to the fore” can be viewed at the links below.

The conference was put on jointly by IATEFL Pronunciation SIG and NATECLA, at the British Council in London.

Click here for the link to the playlist which includes the opening plenary from David and Ben Crystal, and sessions from Mark Hancock, Roslyn Young and Piers Messum.

Click here for my closing plenary talk “Proprioception in learning new sounds, words and connected speech”

For the full programme see the post below

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Accentuate: Bringing pronunciation to the fore – Live-streamed Conference 21 February 2015

The British Council is live-streaming the IATEFL Pronunciation SIG-NATECLA London conference, direct from the British Council London

Accentuate: Bringing pronunciation to the fore

21 February 2015, 10.00 – 16.30 GMT

With plenary speakers: David Crystal and Ben Crystal, and Adrian Underhill 

For details and registration and free online registration click here

9.30 -10.00 registration

10.00 – 10.15 opening
10.15 – 11.15 plenary: Dealing with accents
David and Ben Crystal reflect on some of the issues that arose when writing their recent book, ‘You Say Potato: A Book About Accents’, and report what has been happening on the associated website,
11.15 – 11.30 break
11.30 – 12.30 parallel workshops

Tatiana Skopintseva:   Pronunciation Gymnastics for Non-Native Presenters in English

Simon Andrewes:   Accentuate the positive: positive approximation and the lingua franca core

Mark Hancock:   Doing things with sounds   Practical pronunciation activities for your classroom
12.30 – 13.30 lunch

3 x 15 min presentations

Linda Ruas:   “Radical phonology”: protest chants – a meaningful context for improving sounds and suprasegmentals

Paul Carley:   An UnhappY Vowel: Is our Transcription Fit for Purpose?]

Frans Hermans:   Near native pronunciation and Received Pronunciation: No-go areas?
13.30 – 14.15 parallel sessions  
45 min workshops

Cornee Ferreira:   What to imitate? Between the native-speaker model and the lingua franca core.

Roslyn Young:   The Silent Way approach to teaching pronunciation, illustrated using French

Charlotte Haenlein:   Ideas for embedding pronunciation work in everyday classroom topics at lower levels
14.15 – 14.30 break
14.30 – 15.15 parallel workshops

Judy Kirsh & Karen Dudley: Pronunciation for integration: stress, rhythm and intonation

Catarina Pontes: Putting sounds together: practical pronunciation activities for the English classroom

Piers Messum: What to teach before you teach sounds
15.30 – 16.30 plenary: Proprioception in learning new sounds, words and connected speech
Adrian Underhill: Pronunciation and speaking are physical activities. Proprioception is the internal awareness of the position of parts of the body and the effort employed in a movement. I will look at how to use proprioception as a guiding principle in language learning, how to enable learners to connect with the muscles that make new sounds, and how to use ‘easy’ sounds to find ‘difficult’ ones.

16.30 – 16.40 closing

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Visual impairment and using the pron chart

To followers of this blog: A true story to start the year…

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Here is a very special post which tells a story. It starts last September when Laila, who lives and works in Spain, meets her new class. This follows two months after our Pronunciation and Storytelling programme at Bell Teachers Centre, Cambridge, last July.

I find it touching, which is maybe a hallmark of a transformational  event. There is a quality here which you can feel, and is without words, a simple and fully human quality which we can all recognise, and perhaps aspire to in our teaching. Focus not on what I write, but on the experience of Laila the teacher, and Carme the learner, through the words of Laila and her pictures, and at the end through the words of Carme.

4 Sep 2014, Laila Khairat Gomez wrote: I have a new C1 class of 6 students who are really nice. My biggest challenge is my eldest student, 53 years old, her name is Carme :) and she is visually impaired.

No one told me about this before my lesson, so I had prepared lots of eye contact, physical-mingle type of activities which I had to leave out on the spot and come up with other things to do instead.  She has a really positive attitude towards learning and towards life itself , so that makes it much easier for me considering the circumstances.

So this has definitely made me reconsider many of things we take for granted when we plan a lesson and I need to be as creative as possible regarding presentations and prompts. It’s being an interesting thing to work around. It’s probably the best time to give Teaching Unplugged a shot :)

Here is a pic of my classroom :) As you can see, the phonemic chart was there to welcome me as I entered for the first time.

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I am happy to say I have used it from day 1, although I had to present it in two slots – first vowels and diphthongs and on the second day consonants. This is because Carme leaves half an hour earlier than the rest and I thought that even though she could have perfectly followed all the physical awareness exercises, as she would’t be able to participate pointing at the chart or seeing where the others were pointing I thought it would be best to do the presentation once she had left.

Any advice on this Adrian? I will also say that I am quite satisfied with the work we’ve done so far with the chart… One my students even confessed to have been practising the position of the vowels while walking on the street :) :) :) :) :)

Today my tutor came to observe my class for the first time and she congratulated me specifically on the way I integrated pron work throughout the lesson. She did suggest though I could include more drilling both choral and individually.

4 Sep 2014 Adrian Underhill wrote: Hi Laila. Thanks for this. Your classroom looks lovely! So glad to hear you have got started straight away with pron, and doing it this way you will learn as you go and get better and better at it!

Take your tutor’s advice and do a bit more drilling, as long as it is attentive Demand High drilling, ie practice without becoming mere repetition. Perhaps I don’t do enough of it myself, but I suggest only do it when a student has made a discovery that is worth practising, and even then keep stopping to check who is doing less than they can, and help them to keep the bar high.

Re Carme, these are my thoughts to push against, test and improve. For the purpose of this advice I will assume she is quite blind, so adapt this for how much she can see:

  1. Tell her what the chart is, describe it, let her feel it or whatever is her way of knowing it.
  2. Describe that there are 44 boxes, and that when you point, a sound is indicated. Have her listen to the class at work using it.
  3. Give her a pointer and have her point at symbols on it (which she can’t see, so it will be random) and you say the sounds. Keep going til she begins to understand that there is a logic, and it becomes less random. Have other students watch and learn as this goes on. Include everyone in all of this.
  4. Maybe have her listen to some of the class working with it even if she cannot see
  5. Ask her how the chart, and the activities using it, could be adapted to work for her. This could be:
  6. a) She has a personal copy of the chart and puts some braille/feeling/touch sensitive things in each box.
  7. b) Could just be a raised number on each box.
  8. c) Or she might like to have the lines of the boxes raised so she can touch them, and she would get to know each box by location.
  9. d) Or whenever you point on the class chart, another student sitting by Carme puts Carme’s finger in the correct location on Carme’s own touch version of the chart.
  10. e) Or she makes her own touch version of the chart, much smaller, raised edges
  11. f) According to how she deals with writing and reading (?) check if she can make use of phonemic symbols. Does she do braille? Do phonemic symbols work in braille??
  12. The rule of thumb is, do all the usual activities, and ask C what adaptation would enable her to enter the activity.
  13. Maybe let her play with the Sound Foundations app (if she does touch screens) and play with the chart on the screen til she learns the layout (without seeing it)

Careful not to patronise by being too kind, over helpful, anxious, making it easy etc.  Assume she can do miraculous things, and be guided always by what she can do. Be with her, not with yourself (this advice is for all of us).

Laila, those are my immediate thoughts. Maybe the situation is different from what I am imagining, but can you adapt this?  Tell me what you think. This is a wonderful opportunity that has been offered to you. Now you can really practise being taught by your student.

6 Sep 2014, Laila Khairat Gomez wrote: Hi Adrian, Thanks for all the great advice :)  As far as I know, she can’t read at all or look at images on paper or screen… but she said she writes emails on the computer. Taking this into account I have made a chart with the raised boxes like you suggested and will try to use it next week with her and the rest of the class.

One of the things my tutor suggested I should work on is building up cooperation in the classroom and educate the rest of the students in verbalising anything they do, which at the same time is good speaking practice.

Some of the ideas you suggested could be integrated into this objective, like have her point and I say the sounds, also others could speak as she does so to help her to make her way through and memorise the locations of the sounds and have someone next to her help her get to the box that is being pointed by whichever student is at the chart.

I’m really enjoying the challenge. Will keep you updated with the progress. Thanks again. Here’s a pic (I am not really crafty so this is quite an achievement. :) )

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7 Sep 2014 Adrian Underhill wrote: Hi Laila. Great! That looks really good. She’ll love it! I agree that you should build up cooperation in the class, so that this becomes of interest and importance and care to everyone. This is a great opportunity for real community building.

Check she’s ok with it, and invite her to talk in class about how they can help her and how they should/not treat her, and ask how she can help them too. With the aim that whenever an activity comes up that assumes some sightedness, the class can pause and sort with her (in public, not 1:1 you and her) how she would like to join in the activity. It’s much better when there is real life to focus on, the whole class can grow up and stop behaving like ‘students’. Tell me how it goes !

9 Sep 2014 Laila Khairat Gomez wrote: Hi Adrian, So on Monday I gave Carme her own chart and she was delighted and very grateful. :) Despite that, at the beginning as I guided her hands through it she found it unnecessary to keep moving through it while others spoke because the inner part of each box had nothing on it to her.

It was really a matter of how I presented it to her and how awfully I explained myself ;( because as soon as I said that the intention was kind of like learning the keys on a computer keyboard, by location and so that this way she would be able to participate when we use the chart she was quite engaged.

She confessed to be very interested in working on her pronunciation and found all the discovery exercises (movement of tongue, lips, jaw) very helpful. She asked me to keep the chart so that she wouldn’t forget it at home.

Today she walked in with a grid drawn on a sheet of paper and with some notes (tongue moves back, jaw drops, lips go rounder) and asked me to please go over it to make sure it was correct. Someone had done it for her but she was so happy to have understood the dynamics of the vowels.

We have worked on it very little so far but I try my best to integrate it all I can. I’ll keep you updated.

9 Sep 2014 Adrian Underhill wrote: Hi Laila. Brilliant! Now what about raised phonemic symbols so she could feel them? That would help in knowing each sound ‘box’ on the chart. If they have velcro or magnets on the back she could make words, corresponding to what is written on the board. She would need a velcro board or a magnetic board. Some ordinary white boards are magnetic, so she could come up to it like the others. Sounds like she is delighted to have her needs taken seriously, and equally. Keep going and keep inquiring!

15 Sep 2014 Laila Khairat Gomez wrote: Latest news… I upgraded it and now it’s absolutely tactile! See picture below. I used plasticine and some strong glue :) She loved it!

She blamed me for having spent some time during the weekend training her muscles saying out the vowels while in company of her friends and family!!!

It’s great that she can now fully participate when we use the chart… We just keep verbalising where in the chart we start ( top left / second line/ bottom line 2nd box) and she is finding her way through. She prefers I keep it for now but today she made sure that it’s really FOR her and that when the month is over and I get a different group of student she will be able to take it home. Isn’t that great? Thanks Adrian for the help and support :)

I still need to work on my presentation skills when it comes to the chart and refer to it even more throughout the classes. :)

25 Sep 2014 Laila Khairat Gomez wrote: Hellooooo. Today was my last class with this group and it has been great. They have all thanked me again and again for introducing them to the chart.It’s incredible how well they did on a phonetic dictation game we did :))))) they were arguing about the vowels, the stress, the shwa !!!!! Amazing!

Carme participated in this quiz with her tactile chart and was sooooo engaged in the task she forgot she had to leave early. She took it home today with her and a broad smile on her face:) The chart has added a whole new dimension to my teaching style and experience and it’s been great to see how wonderfully students respond to it.

A great anecdote : one of my students went to a lesson done by one of the TESOL Certificate students which are offered for free .. And at one point she asked the teacher “can you show me in the chart???” And the poor trainee went blank, blushed and couldn’t help her but then my student stood up, went to the chart and showed her which of the two vowel sounds she was debating about and they figured it out together!!!!! I feel so useful :)

25 Sep 2014 Laila Khairat Gomez wrote: Hi Adrian. I just landed in Madrid and can’t wait to hug my dog :))) Here is the photo of the tactile version with the plasticine. Thanks for all the support through all your emails.

la foto 1 BlogLater Hi Adrian, I arranged a short meeting with Carme to get some feedback from her in retrospect. Interesting points:

  1. Her previous experience with pron was when teachers would focus in a pair of phonemes during a lesson and they would listen-repeat- discriminate. She knew about shwa.
  1. This was her first experience with pronunciation from a propioception physical- awareness approach and it has made all the difference to her.
  1. She carries her chart to class and uses it for reference both in and out of the classroom.
  1. She is happy we put this on your blog and to mention her name.
  1. She is so efficient and excited about this that she even wrote the following letter . (I can’t stop smiling :) )

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Teacher Training Workshop with Adrian Underhill

Using the ‘Pron Chart': a complete workout

 London: Saturday 17th January 2015.

Manchester: Saturday 31st January. 2015.

A few places still available

We will explore the chart, how to present it and use it to integrate pron with other language work; connected speech; proprioception and the physicality of pron; teacher training; how to work with any difficult sound or sound sequence for different L1 learners; teacher confidence; the politics of pron; and all the questions you’ve wanted to ask…

Come if you can!

Click here for info

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Teacher Training Workshop with Adrian Underhill

Using the ‘Pron Chart': a complete workout

London: Saturday 17th January 2015

Manchester: Saturday 31st January. 2015

A few places still available

We will explore the chart, how to present it and use it to integrate pron with other language work; connected speech; proprioception and the physicality of pron; teacher training; how to work with any difficult sound or sound sequence for different L1 learners; teacher confidence; the politics of pron; and all the questions you’ve wanted to ask…

 Click here for info


Coming up on adrianpronchart in 2015….

Hello everyone

Nearly 2015, and who knows, perhaps we can take the next step towards a real integration of pronunciation with the rest of language learning and teaching…. With that in mind, some of the things coming up on this blog:

Using the pron chart with visually impaired leaners.

The Story of Sounds, continuing with the vowels from where I left off earlier in the year.

The next 12 videos in the series of 3 minute pronunciation teaching skills videos. You can see the first nine here:

Information about my two-week pronunciation teachers’ course at Bell Cambridge in July 2015. See here for course description.

And see Laila’s blog for some comments on the 2014 course last July

Also, here is the link for last month’s webinar Teaching Difficult Sounds, either at Macmillan English , or on Youtube

I hope to hear from you during the coming year. Do post your experiences and questions.

And maybe I’ll get to meet some of you.

All the best for 2015, Adrian

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Webinar: Teaching Difficult Sounds

On 13/11/2014 I will give a webinar in the Macmillan Education Online Conference

This is a one week online conference with many different speakers each day. Click here for the programme and to book your place.

Teaching Difficult Sounds


Part of the Exams session at the Macmillan Education Online Conference 2014, this webinar will boost your confidence in teaching pronunciation and provide you with practical tips and techniques for tackling some of the trickiest sounds, such as th, r, l.

Who is it for?

The Macmillan Education Online Conference 2014 is open to all teachers and professionals working in ELT and is FREE to attend

During this webinar, Adrian will discuss:

The pronunciation chart and how it helps learners

Finding the muscles that make the new sounds

Using easy sound positions to find the difficult ones

How to correct and practise these sounds

How to make optimal use of learner errors

Insights into pronunciation that shed new light on typical problems.

After the conference this webinar will be available on the Macmillan ELT website and on YouTube. I’ll post the links here when I get them

Hope to see you there!    Adrian


ALSO…. Check my 3 minute video series on pronunciation, here, and let me know what you think… thanks!



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Australia workshops this month

Teachers workshops in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

I will be facilitating three Sound Foundations teacher training workshops on the Physicality of Sounds and Using the Pron Chart.

1.. Wed 17th Sept. From 1 – 4pm at the Crown Convention Centre Melbourne. This is one of the pre-Conference events for the English Australia Conference taking place 18th/19th Sept.

2.. Mon 22nd Sept. From 3 – 6pm at CQ University, Sydney, a workshop on pronunciation. And in the morning I will run a workshop “Developing a Learning Organisation” at the same venue

3.. Tues 23rd Sept From 3 – 6pm at Brown’s English Language School in Brisbane, workshop on pronunciation. And in the morning I will run a workshop “Developing a Learning Organisation” at the same venue

I will also be giving other workshops/talks on Demand High, and on Quality in Professional Learning at the English Australia conference. Check out the conference programme here.

These are all sponsored by English Australia and IELTS. I am looking forward to seeing some of my Australian friends. Do come along to one of these workshops if you are anywhere near. Hope to see you!

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Observations on the American English chart … and the vowel /ɑː/

Beatriz Cabrera Portillo asks about the American English chart, and also about the vowel sound /ɑː/. She says:

1) When comparing your magnificent two phonemic charts in both BrE and AmE, I’ve realised that a “long a” is not included in the American chart. Parallel to this, the group of dipthongs ending in “schwa” are not inserted in the American chart either.

2) As the “a” sound is not analysed in your blog and after researching in several resources, I am a bit doubtful about the position of the  mouth in the vowel articulation of words like but as opposed to it in words such as car. Is it possible to say that both sounds share the same mouth position with the only difference in the length? Thanks in advance. Beatriz

Thanks for your comments Beatriz. Yes, it’s interesting to compare the BrE and AmE charts. There are several noteworthy differences, two of which you have pointed out.

Length marks are not normally indicated in AmE learner dictionaries, (eg the Macmillan English Dictionary) not because AmE vowels cannot be long, as they certainly vary in length, but because length is considered a less predictable way of identifying a vowel sound as being one phoneme or another. So, as you point out /ɑː/ on the BrE chart becomes /ɑ/ on the AmE chart. Furthermore the sound /ɒ/ (as in hot) on the BrE chart does not appear on the AmE chart, that sound merging mostly with AmE /ɑ/ and occasionally with /ɔ/.

The three ‘weak’ diphthongs of BrE, that is the ones that glide to schwa /ǝ/, likewise are not considered part of the phonemic set of Standard AmE and so do not appear on the AmE chart. Again, see the MED for learners of American English.

Regarding BrE / ʌ/ and /ɑː/, no they do not share the same mouth position. Length is a factor, but the vowels have a different acoustic quality. Put briefly, the centre and back of the tongue needs to be lower for /ɑː/ than for / ʌ/ . Thus the tongue is positioned differently, and consequently /ɑː/ has a greater volume of vibrating air in the mouth above the tongue.

I intend before too long to get onto the remaining vowel sounds in the continuing Story of Sounds …. Meanwhile, I hope this is of use….      Adrian


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