Monday, June 27, 2011


The English language has a total of 15 vowels. In writing the vowels, I will use their IPA representation. They consist of the front vowels: i as in eat, week, and tree. I as in pin and invite. e as in eight, locate, and balletɛ as in extra and bet. æ as in at and glass. and a as in the British pronunciation of path. Our central vowels are: ʌ as in under and sun. ə as in asleep, balloon, and zebraɝ as in herd, earth, furɚ as in farmer and waterfall. Back vowels are: u as in drewʊ as in foot. o as in over, boat, helloɔ as in all, hall, jaw.  ɑ as in awkward, clock, and raw. There are three diphthongs which include:  ɑI as in aisle, mine, and tryɑʊ as in hour, mouth, and plow. and ɔI as in oil, spoil, and destroy.
In comparison, the Spanish (Mexico) language has 5 vowels. A, E, I, O, U. They are consistent in every word. They always have the same sound.
There is a reason that English is a difficult language to learn.  Not only do we have a plethora of vowels, but they are not consistent in how they are pronounced. For example, the word "bow" can be pronounced as  /bɑʊor /bo/. The 'ow' in this word can represent more than one vowel. So, when our children are struggling to learn this information, there is a viable reason that it is difficult.


Josh Hoyt said...

This is interesting I can see why kids struggle and why it would be important for adults to give them time and be understanding.

Madeleine said...

Oh, I'm puzzled now. I thought there were 21 vowel and 24 consonant sounds in the English Language (could be a difference between American English & British English?)

BTW if you send me an email I can reply to your question :O)

April said...

I hadn't thought of there being a difference, but after reading your comment, I did some searching and in the class I am currently in, my professor has stated that American English does have 15 vowel sounds with about 3 diphthongs, so 18 total. In my searching, I did find that British English does have more than American English.
Thanks for bringing that to my attention! So, British English would be even harder to learn!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I agree English Language is difficult to use, for example many words are spelt differntly but prounounced the same there and their.
The US spell "Center" whilst we spell it Centre,
Why I don't know.

Found this quite interesting and enjoyable to read.

Ellie Garratt said...

I feel like I need to go back to school, but then I never did pay much attention to the teacher. Thank you for educating me on vowels!

Ellie Garratt

CC said...

Vowels are so tricky!!! I still get the IPA for different vowels confused!