Question 2 (a) – Alia and Jiah

Vowel sounds are the speech sounds made with the vocal tract open. In other
words, vowel sounds are the production of speech sounds with little or no restriction
of the airflow from the lungs to the mouth or nose. There are two types of vowel
sounds, which are short vowels and long vowels. To classify short vowels, we have
to indicate the height of the tongue, position of tongue and the lip rounding.

The first thing that should be considered in classifying the vowel sounds is the
height of the tongue, which means how much space there is between the tongue and
the roof of the mouth. There are three height distinction of vowels which are high,
middle and low. For the high part, the short vowels that involve are /ɪ/and /u/. These
vowels will relatively narrow the space between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.
Apart from that, the jaw is relatively high and the mouth is nearly closed while
pronouncing these vowels. Then, for the mid vowels, the jaw and the tongue
positions are roughly between the high and low vowels. The short vowels that involve
in mid part are /e/ and /ə/. The last part is the low part which involves /ʌ/, /ɔ/ and æ.
When these vowels are pronounced, there will be a relatively wide space between
the tongue and the roof of the mouth.

Position of tongue
Height of
The Quadrilateral Vowel Chart
Another characteristic of short vowel sounds is the position of tongue which is
the front, central and back. First of all, the front tongue position involves 3 short
vowels which are /ɪ/, /e/ and /æ/. For example /ɪ/ in he, /e/ in head and /æ/ in lamb.
The front part of the tongue is raised but not the tip of the tongue. The second part is
the central tongue position. It involves 2 short vowels which are /ə/ and /ʌ/. For
example /ʌ/ in butt and schwa /ə/ in about. When pronouncing these vowel sounds,
the position of tongue is flat and in neutral position. Lastly, the back tongue position.
Short vowels that involve are /u/ and /ɔ/. For example /u/ in put, and /ɔ/ in hot, tongue
is raised at the back part.
Last but not least, the short vowel sounds are also being classified by the lip
rounding. For rounded short vowels, they are produced with rounded lips and the
back of the tongue at decreasing height. The back short vowels in quadrilateral chart,
which are /u/ and /ɔ/ as in good and sore, are rounded vowels. While pronouncing
these vowels, the tongue toward the back of the mouth tends to be more rounded.
Since all the back short vowels are rounded, so all the non-back short vowels should
be unrounded. For example, the short vowels /ɪ/ as in tip, /e/ in ten, /æ/ in hat, /ə/ in
alert and /ʌ/ in cup, have a very spread lip posture.
In conclusion, the quadrilateral chart represents the height of the tongue, the
position of the tongue and also the lip rounding. All the properties are very important
in describing the vowel sounds.