DESCRIPTION OF PURE VOWELS IN ENGLISH

A vowel is defined as a voiced sound in the production of which is no obstruction, partial or complete, of the air passage. Here, we shall deal with the twelve pure vowel sounds of English language.

1. / ɪ: / as in ‘sheep’ / ɪ:p /
It is a close front unrounded vowel. In forming this vowel, the tongue is raised to a height a bit below and behind the close front position. The lips are spread. It is a long vowel sound. It occurs in all three positions in a word, initial, middle and final. Even, people, tea etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • • • • •

e ee ea ie i ei ey

complete, these need, green repeat, read believe, niece machine receive, seize ey

2. / ɪ / as in ‘sit’ / sɪt /
It is a short front unrounded vowel between close and half close. In forming it, the general position of the tongue and lips is li e that in the long ! ɪ: !, but the tongue is in a lower and retracted position. It is raised "ust above the half close position. It occurs in all three positions in a word. It, mist, dirty etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • • • • •

i e ie ai u, ui y a

tic , in return, mar et mischief, ladies fountain busy, build system, city village, surface

3. / e / as in ‘dead’ / ded /
This vowel is a front, unrounded vowel, with height of the tongue between half#close and half#open, and the lips are in a spread or neutral position, and slightly wider apart than in the case of ! ɪ: !. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • • • •

e ea a u ie ei, ai

red, bell bread, death any, Thames bury friend leisure, said

4. / æ / as in ‘bag’ / bæg /
This vowel is intermediate between half#open and open, front, unrounded. To form it, we place the tongue slightly below the half#open position. The lips are in a spread or neutral position. The mouth, in the production of this vowel, is a bit more open than for ! e !. This vowel does not occur in the final position in a word. Tag, rag, man, at etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• •

a ai

land, cash plait, plaid

5. / a: / as in ‘card’ / ka:d /

It is a long vowel formed with the mouth wide open, nearer to bac than front, with lips in a neutral position. In forming this vowel, the tip of the tongue is often retracted from lower teeth. The "aws are separated, e.g. pass, class, chance etc. This vowel does not occur in the final position in a word. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • •
6. /

a ear er au

after, father heart, hearth cler aunt, laugh

ɒ / as in ‘dog’ / dɒ g /

This is an almost open, short, bac vowel with slight rounding of lips and the tongue held in the lowest and most bac ward position. The position of the tongue in this vowel is the same as in $ardinal vowel no %. ! a: !. It occurs in two positions, initial and middle. Ox, box, all, fox etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • •
7. /

o a ou au

gone, top was, &uality cough, 'loucester because, Australia

ɔ : / as in ‘ball’ / bɔ :l/

This vowel is intermediate between open and half#open, bac , round. It is produced by raising the bac of the tongue to a position between half# open and half#close, and with medium lip#rounding. It is a long vowel sound. It occurs in all the three positions. Ought, bought, law etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • • • •

aw ou au a oo oa

saw, lawn ought, thought daughter, vault, cause salt, hall, water door, floor oar, board

. / ʊ / as in ‘put’ / pʊ t /
This vowel is between close and half#close, bac with fairly close rounding. The tongue is la(. It does not occur at the beginning of words. Cook, full etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • •

oo u o ou

loo , foot butcher, sugar wolf, woman could, would

!. / u: / as in ‘fool’ / "u:l /
This vowel is almost close, bac and rounded. In pronouncing it, there is tenseness in the tongue, and the lips are closely rounded. It is a long form of ! u !, but its length is reduced when it occurs before voiceless consonants. Its relation to ! u ! is the same as that of ! ɪ ! is to ! ɪ: !. Food, rude etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• •

o u

do, move rule, )une

• • • • •

ou ui ue oe oo

soup, route fruit, "uice blue, true shoe noon, choose

1#. / ʌ / as in ‘bus’ / bʌ s /
It is a half#open, central unrounded vowel. This vowel does not occur in the final position in a word or in open syllables. It is formed with "aws &uite separate, and lips naturally open, and the centre of the tongue raised "ust above the fully open position. ut, dull etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • • •

u o ou oe oo

sun, bus son, some country, couple does blood, flood

11. / 3: / as in ‘earth’ / 3: /
This vowel is between half#close and half#open, central, unrounded. It is a long vowel which occurs only in accented syllables. In pronouncing it, the centre of the tongue is raised between half#close to half#open, and the lips are neutrally spread. urn, word etc. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • • • • •
*+. /

er err ear ur ir or our

serve, her err earth, heard turn, church bird, gird word, worse courtesy

ə / as in ‘alone’ / ələʊ n /

This vowel is between half#close and half#open, central and unrounded. It is a vowel with a neutral lip#position. It occurs only in the unaccented syllables. The spellings representing this vowel sound are:

• • • • • • • • • • •

a ar o or ou er or our ure re e

about, human forward, standard factory, continue effort famous longer, teacher motor, sailor colour, favour nature, picture centre, theatre sentence, problem

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