Aa / Ee / Ii / Oo / Uu

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Michael, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Many English speakers (American) confuse the short vowel 'a' sound [æ] with the short vowel 'o' [ɒ].
    Why?

    To be clear:
    The short vowel 'a' as in: apple, at, tap, clap, snack, pat, etc...
    Compared to the short vowel 'o' as in: top, octopus, octave, pot, hot, etc...

    Many English speakers, when asked, will say that the short vowel 'a' makes the short vowel 'o' sound as in the word 'ah'. Or, another example may be a short-vowel 'o' at the front of amen, or the 'a' in the word pass (but not normally). I was under the impression that a word like amen, has a schwa at the front? But, when I looked it up, I didn't see a schwa. And to be honest, those schwa's are pretty much like magic. Yes, yes, I know, they give English our rhythm, and allow us to speak faster than if we pronounced the vowels, but come on? Who makes these rules?! Plus, I'm next to tone deaf

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    Not that I couldn't hear tone, but only that I wasn't taught to recognize it.

    Anyway, what got me thinking about this was that in Japanese, the hiragana あ is written in romanji (roman) using an 'a' though it is pronounced in English as the short vowel 'o' as in [ɒ]. So, that's interesting as well. Of course, they have an 'o' as one of their 5 vowels, so they may have decided 'a' was best at the beginning - and we do use it as [ɒ] on occasion.
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Although I dispute your use of the word "many," there are American communities where this is common. They tend to be descendants of the earliest British colonists, who have continued to dominate their geographic region. Boston is the best example. These pronunciations could also be heard throughout much of Virginia, until after WWII, when the suburbs near Washington DC became bedroom communities for the increasing number of federal employees. They brought the country's now-standard Manhattan/Hollywood accent that radio and TV poured into our ears 24/7.
    In 70 years, having lived and worked in many disparate places in the USA, I have NEVER heard anyone pronounce "amen" that way. Some pronounce the A as "AH," others as "AY." Some put the accent on the A, others on the E. But I've never heard anyone say "uh-men."
    Having tutored quite a few foreigners in English, I've never encountered an American who collapses the schwa as you describe, so I've never taught anyone to pronounce it that way. It's a monophthong like short A, E, I, O and U, and is given just about the same duration.

    Compare the two O's in "common." They're different vowels (the second being a schwa), but they endure for almost exactly the same number of milliseconds.
    No one. Many nations have an "academy" with the duty and authority to standardize the national language, but even these organizations have great difficulty executing their duties.

    Germany, perhaps the most authoritarian Western country, puts up with at least two dialects... which are well-understood, but the differences are easily noted, even by a foreigner. (What I caught was a flapped R in the north and a gargled R in the central area, the south, and Austria.)

    The descendants of the Germanic-speaking Franks in northern France and the Celtic-speaking Gauls in southern France can now be said to speak with different accents, rather than dialects, but (again) even a foreigner can hear the difference between the gargled German R of Paris and the flapped Celtic R of Nice.

    Even as young a country as Brazil has already developed regional accents. The people in the north use the flapped R of European Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Greek and most Slavic languages. But the Cariocas (inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro) use a harsh, gargled R that makes German sound like a lullaby in comparison.
    Forgive my butting in, but after all I am the moderator

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    so this is my duty: the word is pronounced romaji, not romanji.
    Wrong again. The standard pronunciation of Japanese A is the AH in "Nazi" or "costume." Indeed, Japanese people tend to speak very quickly because Japanese has one of the highest syllable counts of any human language, so this AH is not the long, languishing A of "father," but it is definitely not an OH.
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    : frantically Googles 'schwa' :

    [ UPDATE ]
    : is no wiser :
     
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    There seems to be a strong coorrelation between this schwa and unstressed vowels in general, but they're not synonymous.

    Does schwa specifically denote a noncommital 'uh'-like vowel sound? Such as the 'i' in pencil, or the 'e' in taken?
     
  8. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Upside-down "e".
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Yeah, but you've got the cart before the horse, as far as I'm concerned.

    I first have to get my head around the idea that there is a generic, neutral, pliable vowel sound in phonetics, and then I have to get my head around the idea that there is a specific symbol that represents it.
     
  10. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    I never had a horse. Phonics was always a foreign language to me.
     
  11. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Opps, thank you!

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    I'm really having a difficult time hearing the difference between the A of "AH" and the A of "father". Isn't it the same as the O in "pot"?
     
  12. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    You'll have to ask Fraggle Rocker, they're a mystery to me. I just look up the word in a dictionary and look for the upside down "e". The first time I had encountered the concept of a schwa was in University when my friend said: Water World is set in an AYE-PO-KO-LYPITIC world. I said: You mean: apocalyptic? A physiology professor said mind the schwa. Which was met with blank stares. He muttered something about the idiotic lack of proper grammar in modern 'education'. (or so I seem to recall)

    I can pronounce apocalyptic correctly, I'm not sure if I'd know where to put the schwa (assuming there's a schwa or two in there). So, I'll take a guess: ApƏcalyptic (how's that?) Seems like the best place to me

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    .... though, that second 'a' is staring at me! Now the 'i' is too!

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    OMG,

    Now I want to write it like this: Əpocalyptic. Seriously, it's a mystery. One of those post-hoc facts that only make sense post-hoc.
     
  13. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    Hahahaha.... I caved in and looked it up: Wrong on both accounts!

    It's: /əpɒkəˈlɪptɪk/
     
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Do the words "bother" and "father" rhyme for you? They don't for me.
     
  15. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    No, brother has the short-vowel U sound (umbrella, under, cover, up). Father on the other hand has the short-vowel O sound (cop, top, pot, stop, October).

    Father and pot both have the same short-vowel O sound. Yes? Maybe the A in father is a tiny bit longer? I'd have to have more examples.

    * As an aside, though I couldn't find it, I remember in one of the Star Wars films (II or III) Anakin says 'my father' with a really weird accent (or else was trying to act in some manner and failed

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    )
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  16. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    As I understood (maybe I'm wrong) but in English we have three categories of vowels right?
    1) Long-vowel
    2) Short-vowel
    3) Other-vowel
     
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I'm curious which one is different.
     
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Not brother ... bother. As is "I won't bother to do that."

    Not the way I say them.

    I say "f-ah-ther" - like farther, only without the "r" sound you probably put in that word. And I say "bother" with "o" like in "pot". On the other hand, that maybe doesn't help you much, since I probably use a shorter "o" in "pot" than you do. To me, when Americans say "pot" it sounds more like "Paht" to me.

    And, by the way, I pronounce father and farther almost identically. Most Americans tend to pronounce the internal "r" in words like "farther", whereas most Australians don't.
     
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Oh. Australian.
    : tosses book of pronunciation out window :


    Q: What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison?
    A: A bison is what an Australian uses to wash his hands in.
     
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    There are variations in pronunciations within Australia, just as there are within the United States.

    Pronouncing basin as "b-eye-son" is what we'd call a "broad Australian accent". Stereotypically, this is the kind of accent we like to think less educated Australians have. My own pronunciation would be somewhere between "b-ay-sin" or "b-ay-son", but in actual fact I probably lazily leave out pronouncing that second vowel in practice, so it's more like "b-ay-sn". (Is that an example of a "schwa"?)

    In a broad Australian accent, the word Australia itself sounds something like 'str-eye-ya (with "eye" sounding like the eye you see with). A slightly less broad (but still broad) version would be something like "Oz-drayl-ya". And I tend to say something more like "Oss-trayl-ya". No Australian calls it "Ors-tray-lee-a". But, on the other hand, we call ourself "Ozz-ees" (with "Oz" as in the Wizard of Oz), never "Oss-ees" or how a lot Americans say it, which sounds to me more like "Orz-ees".
     
  21. Michael 歌舞伎 Valued Senior Member

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    I see. Yes, I would pronounce the 'A' in father and the 'O' in bother pretty much the same way. They rhyme.

    Via: Dictionary.com:
    Other than the voice being a different gender, these two words sound the exact same to me when listening in British English: farther vs father

    Here's the IPA (no, that's not a beer

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    : farther /fär′thər/ vs father /fä′thər/

    * I would never guess there'd be a damn schwa at the end... :/
     
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Yes: The A in above, the E in garment, the I in futile, the O in accustom, the U in circus. And yes, every one of those words can be spoken more formally so that the unstressed vowels sound more like their stressed versions. But in colloquial speech, most Americans (outside of a few large metropolitan areas with their own phonetic standards such as Boston, New York City, Houston and Atlanta) pronounce those words as I introduced them.
    Yes, in Standard American. Some other Anglophone populations pronounce "pot" more like "pawt."
    Yes, they rhyme in standard American. The Bostonians have hung onto some 18th century British phonetics, and I've never lived there. The only thing I can point out is their silent final R: "wear" is pronounced as almost two syllables: WAY-uh.
    No. I don't know where you picked up that paradigm, but it's absolutely incorrect. "A," for example, has TWO "short" pronunciations: "at" and "Ma."
    Yes, your pronunciation of "pot" sounds like "pawt" to us. This is fairly similar to RP, "Received Pronunciation"--although better known here as "the Queen's English."
    Yes, again dismissing the Bostonians, we pronounce every R after every vowel.
    Radio and TV have leveled most of our regional accents, but many people in the Southeast still hang onto their antebellum accents, although they've been softened considerably. But they still speak much more slowly than we do, to the extent that they have a hard time understanding a New Yorker at all.
    Indeed. Actually, we probably leave our nostrils open, so it's actually a nasal vowel rather than a vocal one.
    Someone from over there said that in casual speech "Australian" is pronounced "strine." Any truth to that?
     
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Don't you mean 'struth?

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