The Characteristics of the Pure Vowel Sounds

Subject     : Dictation.Semester  : 3. Lecturer  : Puji Siswanto, S.PdCredits     : 2 SKS.

 

The characteristics of the pure vowel sounds

 

Vowels are articulated when a voiced airstream is shaped using the tongue and the lips to modify the overall shape of the mouth. English speakers generally use twelve pure vowels and eight diphthongs. Moreover, vowels are produced when the airstream is voiced through the vibration of the vocal cords in the larynx, and then shaped using the tongue and the lips to modify the overall shape of the mouth.

If you try saying /i:/ /e/ /æ/ /Ŋ//ɔ:/ /u:/ out loud, you should be able to feel that your tongue changes position in your mouth, yet it doesn’t actually obstruct the airflow. Try moving smoothly from one sound to the next, without stopping. In addition, you will also be aware of the shape of your lips changing, and your jaw moving.

Minimal pairs:  

Soap /sэup/  Paper /peipə/ 
Soup /su:p/  Peper /pepə/ 

The pure vowel sounds

The word ‘pure’ here is used to differentiate single vowel sounds from diphthongs, which we will consider later. The sounds have been divided up into catagories, according to the characteristics of their articulation.

The basic lips position which are used in describing the articulation of vowel sounds. Those positions of the lips can be categories as: rounded, spread, neutral.

Rounded: the lips are pushed forward into the shape of a circle.

Example sound: /u/

Spread: The concerns of the lips are moved away from each other, as when smiling.

Example sound: /i:/

Neutral : the lips are not noticeably rounded or spread.

Example sound: /ə/

The languages referred to in the following diagrams are as follows:

Arabic (A) Chinese (C) French (F) German (G)
Greek (Gk) Indian Languages (Ind) Italian (I) Japanese (J)
Portuguese (P) Russian (R) Scandinavian  languages (Sc) Spanish (Sp)
Turkish (Tu)

 

The tongue position when produce: i. e, æ,/ u, o, a.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close vowels

For close vowel the tongue is quite high in the mouth. Moving from /i:/ through to /u:/, we also notice the different position of the tongue /i:/ is front vowel, and /u:/ is a back vowel.

Characteristics of i:

The front of the tongue is slightly behind and below the close front position (the ‘close’ position is where the tongue is closet to the roof of the mouth.) lips are spread. The tongue is tense, and the sides of the tongue touch the upper molars.

For example: bead, key, cheese, scene, police, people.  Difficult for: C, Gk, P, R, Tu.

The characteristics of I

The part of the tongue slightly nearer the center is raised to just above the half –close position (not as high as in /i:/). The lips are spread loosely, and the tongue is more relaxed. The sides of the tongue may just touch the upper molars.

For example: hit, sausage, biggest, rhythm, mountain, busy, women, sieve. Difficulties for: A,C,F,GK, It, P, Sc, Sp, Tu.

The characteristics of υ

The part of the tongue just behind the center is raised, just above the half – close position. The lips are rounded, but loosely so. The tongue is relatively relaxed.

For example: book, good, woman, push, pull. Difficulties for: F, Gk, It, P, Sp, Tu.

The characteristic u:

The back of the tongue is raised just below the close position. Lips are rounded. The tongue is tense.

For example: food, rude, true, who, fruit, soup. Difficulties for: C, P.

Mid vowels

For mid vowels the tongue is neither high nor low in the mouth. Moving from /e/ through to / ɔ:/, we also notice the different positions of the tongue; /e/ is a front vowel, and / ɔ:/ is back vowel.

The characteristics of e

The front of tongue is between the half-open and half-close positions. Lips are loosely spread. The tongue is tenser than for /i/, and the sides of the tongue may touch the upper molars.

For example: egg, left, said, head, read (past), instead, any, leisure, leopard.   

 

The characteristics of ə

The center of the tongue is between the half – close and half-open positions. Lips are relaxed, and neutrally spread.

For example: about, paper, banana, nation, the (before consonants).

The characteristics of З:

The centre of tongue is between the half-close and half –open positions. Lips are relaxed, and neutrally spread.

For example: shirt, her, word, further, pearl, serve, myrtle.

   The characteristics of ɔ:

The back of the tongue is raised to between the half-open and half-close positions. Lips are loosely rounded.

For example: fork, call, snore, taught, bought, board, saw, pour, broad, all, law, horse, hoarse.

Open vowels

For open vowels, the tongue is low in the mouth. Moving from /æ/ through to / ɔ/, we also notice the different positions of the tongue; /æ/ is a front vowel, and /ɔ/ is back vowel.

The characteristics of æ

The front of the tongue is raised to just blow the half-open position. Lips are neutrally open.

For example: hat, attack, antique, plait

The characteristics of A.

The centre of the tongue is raised to just above the fully open position. Lips are neutrally open.

For example: run, uncle, front, nourish, does, come, flood.

The characteristic of α:

The tongue, between the centre and the back, is in the fully open position. Lips are neutrally open.

For example: far, part, half, class, command, clerk, memoir, aunty, hearth.  

 

The characteristics of Ɔ

The back of the tongue is in the fully open position. Lips are lightly rounded.

For example: dog, often, cough, want, because, knowledge, Australia.

 

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