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English and Vietnamese Vowels 0 Running head: ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE VOWELS

Vowels in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis

Chu Thi Thuy Tien Class: 4C.06 University of Education

And lastly. therefore. I will contrast these two systems through two aspects: positions and manners of articulation of vowels to find out similarities and differences between them. Secondly. While these two skills are very important for students when they begin to work in an environment using English. I will divide my paper into three parts. The teaching implications will help learners to correct their pronunciation and also help them improve other skills. From this analysis.English and Vietnamese Vowels 1 Abstract Pronunciation is a problem which usually occurs to Vietnamese learners of English. I will describe vowels in Vietnamese and then in English. some similarities and differences can be drawn between the two languages. I will discuss some implications for teaching language. they have difficulty in listening and speaking English. Then some teaching implications will be presented. . students need to be aware of the errors in their pronunciation. Many learners have difficulty pronouncing English sounds. Firstly. This paper aims to contrast vowels in Vietnamese and in English.

Vowels in English Vowels in English are described in term of four factors: (i) the length of the vowel. 2005. (Hornby. including 5 long vowels and 6 short vowels (Roach. the teeth. There are 11 single vowels in English. These descriptions can help us to differentiate vowels from consonants because in consonants there is obstruction of the airflow when the sound is produced. a vowel is a speech sound in which the mouth is open and the tongue is not touching the top of the mouth. In fact.27-36). This definition is more scientific. The most common view is that “vowels are sounds in which there is no obstruction to the flow of air as it passes from the larynx to the lips” (Roach.1648). p.. low). as in the word eye. Another answer is that vowels are the core or “peak” of the syllable.18). To distinguish vowel sounds from each other. According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary. (iii) the part of the tongue and (iv) the degree of lip rounding. (ii) the level of the tongue. we base on which part of the tongue is involved (front. 1991. pp. ants and faith. the vowel can be surrounded on either or both sides by consonants. p. mid. 1991. back) and how high the tongue is when the sound is produced (high. central. Alternatively. The length of the vowel: . a syllable can consist of one vowel only.English and Vietnamese Vowels 2 Vowels in English and Vietnamese What is a vowel? We will find that it is not easy to define exactly what it means. as in the words may. etc.

/ ɒ /. mid and low. / æ /. / ɒ /.English and Vietnamese Vowels 3 Vowels are classified as long and short. back vowels / ɑ: /. The level of the tongue: Vowels in English can be classified as high. / ʌ /. / i /. depending on how far forward or back the tongue is positioned and which part of the tongue is involved. /u:/. The degree of lip rounding: In addition. mid vowels / e /. To make the description clearer. / ʊ /. / ɜ:/. and back. They include spread vowels / i: /. / ɔ:/. / ɔ: /. /ə /. The part of the tongue: Vowels are also classified as front. Long vowels include /ɑ:/. / e /. / ɜ:/. / i /. / ɔ: /. / ʌ /. / ʊ /. /ʊ/. / ʌ /. / e /. / i /. /i:/. / e /. central vowels /ə /. / ɑ:/. central. a chart of English vowels is given below: . /ɔ:/. we have front vowels / i: /. low vowels / æ /. referring to the level of the tongue. / ɜ:/. / u: /. /u:/. / u: /. / ɒ /. / æ /. depending on the length of the vowels. neutral vowels / ə /. / ʊ /. With this classification. /ɜ:/. we have high vowels: / i: /. / æ /. / ʌ / and rounded vowels / ɑ: /. Therefore. vowels are characterized by the degree of lip rounding or spreading that occurs during their articulation. /ɒ/. Short vowels include / i /.

g: saw /sɔ:/ e.g: put /pʊt/ e.g: about /ə’baʊt/ e.g: cup /kʌp/ u: long high/ close back rounded vowel ʊ short high/close back rounded vowel ɔ: long mid back rounded vowel ɒ short low/open back rounded vowel ɑ: long low/open back rounded vowel ɜ: ə ʌ long mid central neutral vowel short mid central neutral vowel short low/open central neutral vowel .g: see /si:/ e.g: too /tu:/ e.g: ten /ten/ e.English and Vietnamese Vowels 4 Chart 1.g: father /’f ɑ: ə / e. English Vowels English vowels can be summarized as following (including four factors): i: i e æ long high/ close front spread vowel short high/ close front spread vowel short mid front spread vowel short low/ open front spread vowel e.g: fur /fɜ:/ e.g: got /gɒt/ e.g: happy /’hæpi/ e.g: cat /kæt/ e.

sounds which consist of a movement from one vowel to another. or single vowel In English. English has a large number of diphthongs. hour Vowels in Vietnamese . All produced rapidly and without interruption. A triphthong is a movement from one vowel to another and then to a third.English and Vietnamese Vowels 5 In addition to single vowels. royal lower. fire loyal. mower power. The triphthongs can be composed of the five closing diphthongs described in the last section. Therefore we have five triphthongs: ei + ə = eiə ai + ə = aiə ɔi + ə = ɔiə əʊ +ə = əʊə aʊ + ə = aʊə mayor . player liar. there are eight diphthongs as they are showed below: DIPHTHONG Centring Closing ending in ə ending in i ending in ʊ iə eə ʊə ei ai ɔi əʊ aʊ English vowel also has the kind of vowel called triphthong. A vowel which remains constant and does not move is called a pure vowel. with ə added on the end.

u. The chart below shows the fixed timbre vowels in both languages: Vietnamese English In both Vietnamese and English. short vowels are ɛ̌̌ (anh ách). ɔ̌. ɛ. ɔ. These vowels can be presented in chart 2: Chart 2. some vowels change their timbre. e. Vietnamese has three diphthongs . o. Vietnamese has 13 single vowels. In addition to single vowels. ɯə and uo. grave (back): u.English and Vietnamese Vowels 6 Vietnamese has three types of vowels. a. e. o. . including acute (front): i. including 10 long vowels and 3 short vowels (1977). Vietnamese Vowels According to Đoàn Thiện Thuật. ă. Vietnamese vowels as well as English vowels have some fixed timbre vowels. ɯ. Long vowels are i. ɤ̌. a. thân). ɤ. ă. ɔ̌ (ong óc). ɤ̌ (tân. ɛ̌. About timbre change. ɤ. They are ie. light grave: ɯ. ɛ. diphthongs are the vowels which change their timbre. ɔ.

thưa. tiên).English and Vietnamese Vowels 7 Vietnamese English About diphthong distribution. including single vowels. while Vietnamese has only sixteen.” /ɯ/ as in mừng “happy. The second difference is that English has triphthongs while Vietnamese does not have this kind of vowel. ya (hiền. e. Similarities and Differences From the description above. /ɯɤ/ -ươ. ưa (hươu.” /ɤ/ as in lớn “big. /uo/ -uô. thương). ua (uống thuốc. I will draw some similarities and differences about vowels in Vietnamese and in English. However. yê. /e/ as in tên “name. lúa úa ). /e/ as in “egg” and /u/ as in “would. ia. miền. Vietnamese has more long vowels and less short vowels than English. Both Vietnamese and English share three single vowels: / i / as in “sit”. the total number of vowels. Triphthongs cause difficulty for learners of English because they are pronounced quickly so learners can not distinguish them easily. Vietnamese contains four additional single vowels.” /ɤ̆/ as in tân “new” and three diphthongs /ie/ as in miền “region” /uo/ as in uống “drink” and /ɯɤ/ as in hướng “direction”. .g: /ie/ -iê. diphthongs and triphthongs English is far more than those in Vietnamese. English has 24 vowels.” In addition to these shared sounds. diphthongs in Vietnamese are mostly centering.

In the next part. ʊə) or closing (ei. Students should not mistake the sound /u/ in Vietnamese with the sound / ʊ / in English. close front than the sound / i / in Vietnamese. the sound / ɒ/ is pronounced more roundly and more backward than the sound / ɔ/. əʊ. In English and Vietnamese. The sound /ɒ/ in English is a low rounded vowel. there are some differences when pronouncing them. while the sound / ɔ/ in Vietnamese is a mid rounded vowel. while the sound /e/ in Vietnamese is the high vowel. However. they are slightly different when they are pronounced. And lastly is the sound /a/ in Vietnamese and /a:/ in English. The sound / ʊ / in English is more rounded and pronounced more backwards than the sound /u/ in Vietnamese. Therefore. while in English diphthongs are distributed centering (iə. ɔi. Both are the front vowels but the sound /e/ in English is pronounced more forward. The sound /e/ in English is the mid vowel. Another sound students may confuse is /e/. Therefore when pronouncing the sound /e/ in English. Another sound students may pronounce incorrectly is / ɔ/ in Vietnamese and / ɒ/ in English. When the . aʊ). ai. Although they look similar. diphthongs in Vietnamese are mostly centering. there is the sound / i /.English and Vietnamese Vowels 8 About diphthong distribution. learners should put the tongue lower and more forward than when they pronounce the sound /e/ in Vietnamese. I will contrast some specific vowels in both Vietnamese and English. the sound / i / in English is shorter. Therefore. eə. Some students do not know this difference so they pronounce the sound / ʊ / in English like /u/ in Vietnamese.

Teacher should distinguish for their .88) or they just pronounce the first vowel in the diphthongs and do not pronounce the second vowel in the diphthongs. For example. I have contrasted Vietnamese and English vowels according to the number of vowels. Teaching Implications Firstly. when pronouncing diphthongs in English. Then teacher should distinguish some sounds students usually confuse with Vietnamese sounds as I have presented above to make students be aware of the differences between the sounds. I will discuss some teaching implications for Vietnamese and English teaching in high school. 2004. Secondly. it is more rounded and lower and longer and more backwards than the sound /a/ in Vietnamese. So far. Teacher should use minimal pairs when teaching pronunciation to make their students distinguishing the differences between two sounds. /ɔ/ and / ɔ:/ should be put in pronunciation exercises for students to practice. teacher should show their students how to pronounce the diphthongs and single vowels. Students should listen to the sounds first to familiarize with them and then they should practice pronouncing the sounds many times in words and in sentences. /i:/ and /i/. the "long" and "short" features of vowels may cause some difficulty in both English and Vietnamese. For this mistake. In the last part of this paper. positions and manners of articulation of the sounds and some specific sounds that may cause confusion to the Vietnamese learners of English. Thirdly.English and Vietnamese Vowels 9 sound /a:/ is pronounced. teacher should introduce the sounds before they let their students see the characters. Vietnamese learners tend to emphasize on the first vowel which will cause “ foreign accent” (Lê. p. /u:/ and /ʊ/.

English and Vietnamese Vowels 10 students that diphthongs consist of two vowels. especially for those students who rely on visual information. From the vowel chart. Last but not least. or he/she may lose the phonetic skills she/he learned at the beginning. they will be understood more and their communication in English will improve. It is necessary for a teacher to be patient with the accuracy of learners' pronunciation. pronunciation is very important. Students will learn more if they learn the sounds with high motivation and with ease. Teacher should design some interesting activities or games to make their pronunciation lessons more interesting. Teacher should pay attention to the accuracy of pronunciation at more advanced levels of English when a learner has gained more knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. Teacher is the person who has the responsibility to inform for their students through the pronunciation lessons. With triphthongs. The vowel chart of Vietnamese and English is very helpful in explaining the differences between the vowels. students should know some knowledge about the sounds in both Vietnamese and English to be aware about their differences so when they pronounce them they will pronounce them correctly. even if students make slow progress at the beginning. . teacher should give students a lot of listening exercises for them to practice and also emphasize how to pronounce them and how they are different from diphthongs and single vowels. When students pronounce a sound correctly. students can see the position of the vowels and with the explanation of the teacher they know how to pronounce them correctly. Conclusion In conclusion. A picture of the organs of speech will be of great use.

This contrastive analysis is necessary for both teachers and students.English and Vietnamese Vowels 11 Therefore. I hope that this research will provide useful information for those who are concerned about the phonetics and phonology in both languages. . Vietnamese and English have its own sound system so Vietnamese students of English will have difficulty when pronouncing the sounds in English. In this paper. mostly in English. some differences about the positions and manners of articulation and some difficult sounds have been presented and it will help students with their pronunciation. In this analysis. teachers and students should pay more attention to the teaching and learning the sounds. I have also mentioned some teaching implications in teaching language in English and Vietnamese.

Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Roach. Quang Thiêm. Nghiên Cứu Đối Chiếu Các Ngôn Ngữ. (2004). Ngữ Âm Tiếng Việt. Britain: Oxford University Press. . Hanoi: Hanoi National University Publishing House.English and Vietnamese Vowels 12 References Đoàn. A S. Thiện Thuật. (2005). Lê. English Phonetics and Phonology. Hornby. (1977). Britain: Cambridge University Press. (1991). Hanoi: University and Vocational College Publisher. Peter.