PRONOUNCING ENGLISH SOUNDS

PRONOUNCING ENGLISH SOUNDS



We use the 26 letters of the alphabet in english writing. However, when speaking there are roughly 44 different sounds in English. We call these sounds phonemes.

If you're concentrating on the sounds of English, there are 44 characters to represent them all. One way of doing this is to use the 'phonemic alphabet', which has some extra characters to represent the sounds in English for which there is no clear equivalent letter or letters.

Writing with phonemes
You can use phonemes to write out the pronunciation of words and in many dictionaries for English learners you will see the pronunciation written out. To show that what is written are phonemes (sounds) and not letters phonemic transcriptions are written between slashes, / /.

For example, the pronunciation of the word 'pet' is written:/pet/

There are different kinds of sounds, consonants and vowels
Vowels are letters that are pronounced by forcing air over your vocal cords through your mouth. It is the shape of your mouth that decides which vowel sound comes out. There are many tape or video cassette lessons available from schools, libraries and stores which will help you with your pronunciation. You can also learn a lot by listening to the radio and watching television and films.

This section discusses the symbols used for the vowel phonemes in three major English accents: Received Pronunciation, General American, and General Australian

PRONOUNCING ENGLISH CONSONANTS



Consonant Sounds are produced by completely or partially stopping the breath. Consonant Sounds can be voiceless (VL, no vibration of the vocal cords) or voiced (VD, vibration of the vocal cords) and often come in sound pairs.

The symbols used for consonants are shown in the following table. Where symbols appear in pairs, the one to the left is voiceless, the one to the right voiced.

  Bi­labial Labio-
dental
Labio-
velar
Den­tal Alveo­lar Post-
alveo­lar
Pala­tal Velar Glot­tal
Stop p  b       t  d     k  g  
Affricate                   
Nasal m       n      
Fricative   f  v      s  z      (x) h
Approximant       W     j    
Lateral
approximant
        l        

  • /p/: pit
  • /b/: bit
  • /t/: tin
  • /d/: din
  • /k/: cut
  • /g/: gut
  • //: cheap
  • //: jeep
  • /m/: map
  • /n/: nap
  • //: bang
  • /f/: fat
  • /v/: vat
  • //: thin
  • //: then
  • /s/: sap
  • /z/: zap
  • //: she
  • //: measure
  • /x/: loch, Chanukah (often replaced by /h-/ and /-k/)
  • /h/: ham
  • //: whine (also written /hw/), (only when distinguishing whine/wine, which/witch; otherwise replaced by /w/)
  • /w/: we
  • //: run (often written /r/ in broad transcription)
  • /j/: yes
  • /l/: left

Received Pronunciation


Received Pronunciation



Received Pronunciation (RP) is a form of pronunciation of the English language which has traditionally been the prestige British accent. RP is a form of English English (English English is a term that has been applied to the English language as spoken in England.), sometimes defined as the "educated spoken English of southeastern England." It is often taught to non-native speakers; used as the standard for English in most books on general phonology and phonetics; and represented in the pronunciation schemes of most British dictionaries.

Full vowels:

Full vowels are those that appear in stressed syllables.

Monophthongs Short   Long
Front Back Front Central Back
Close
 
Mid
 
Open
 

  • //: bid
  • //: good
  • //: bed (sometimes transcribed /e/)
  • //: bud
  • //: bat (sometimes transcribed /a/)
  • //: pot
  • //: bead
  • //: booed
  • //: bird (sometimes transcribed //)
  • //: bought, board
  • //: father, bard

Diphthongs Closing   Centring
to // to //
Starting close
 
 
  
Starting mid
  
Starting open
 

  • //: bay
  • //: boy
  • //: toe
  • //: buy (sometimes transcribed /ʌɪ/)
  • //: cow
  • //: beer
  • //: boor (falling out of use in British English; often replaced by /ɔː/)
  • //: bear (sometimes transcribed /ɛː/)


Reduced vowels:

Reduced vowels occur in unstressed syllables.

  • //: roses
  • //: Rosa’s, runner
  • /l/: bottle
  • /n/: button
  • /m/: rhythm


Received Pronunciation (RP) is a form of pronunciation of the English language which has traditionally been the prestige British accent. RP is a form of English English (English English is a term that has been applied to the English language as spoken in England.), sometimes defined as the "educated spoken English of southeastern England." It is often taught to non-native speakers; used as the standard for English in most books on general phonology and phonetics; and represented in the pronunciation schemes of most British dictionaries.

Full vowels:

Full vowels are those that appear in stressed syllables.

Monophthongs Short   Long
Front Back Front Central Back
Close
 
Mid
 
Open
 

  • //: bid
  • //: good
  • //: bed (sometimes transcribed /e/)
  • //: bud
  • //: bat (sometimes transcribed /a/)
  • //: pot
  • //: bead
  • //: booed
  • //: bird (sometimes transcribed //)
  • //: bought, board
  • //: father, bard

Diphthongs Closing   Centring
to // to //
Starting close
 
 
  
Starting mid
  
Starting open
 

  • //: bay
  • //: boy
  • //: toe
  • //: buy (sometimes transcribed /ʌɪ/)
  • //: cow
  • //: beer
  • //: boor (falling out of use in British English; often replaced by /ɔː/)
  • //: bear (sometimes transcribed /ɛː/)


Reduced vowels:

Reduced vowels occur in unstressed syllables.

  • //: roses
  • //: Rosa’s, runner
  • /l/: bottle
  • /n/: button
  • /m/: rhythm

Received Pronunciation



Received Pronunciation (RP) is a form of pronunciation of the English language which has traditionally been the prestige British accent. RP is a form of English English (English English is a term that has been applied to the English language as spoken in England.), sometimes defined as the "educated spoken English of southeastern England." It is often taught to non-native speakers; used as the standard for English in most books on general phonology and phonetics; and represented in the pronunciation schemes of most British dictionaries.

Full vowels:

Full vowels are those that appear in stressed syllables.

Monophthongs Short   Long
Front Back Front Central Back
Close
 
Mid
 
Open
 

  • //: bid
  • //: good
  • //: bed (sometimes transcribed /e/)
  • //: bud
  • //: bat (sometimes transcribed /a/)
  • //: pot
  • //: bead
  • //: booed
  • //: bird (sometimes transcribed //)
  • //: bought, board
  • //: father, bard

Diphthongs Closing   Centring
to // to //
Starting close
 
 
  
Starting mid
  
Starting open
 

  • //: bay
  • //: boy
  • //: toe
  • //: buy (sometimes transcribed /ʌɪ/)
  • //: cow
  • //: beer
  • //: boor (falling out of use in British English; often replaced by /ɔː/)
  • //: bear (sometimes transcribed /ɛː/)


Reduced vowels:

Reduced vowels occur in unstressed syllables.

  • //: roses
  • //: Rosa’s, runner
  • /l/: bottle
  • /n/: button
  • /m/: rhythm

 

MR HAMZAOUI
 
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ENGLISH SOUNDS
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
 
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