Lecture 1 - Introduction

Report
LESSON 2 - VOWELS
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1. How many sounds are there?
in Italian?



Vowels
Diphthongs
Consonants
5(7)
4
19
in English?
12
8
24
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go, though, foe, slow, boat;
George, Joe, badge, village
many
sounds have several different spellings
<ough>: though, cough, bough, through,
thought, enough
many
“same spellings” have different sounds
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
Learners cannot rely on the spelling of a word

The problem is the opposite for native speakers –
English schoolchildren spend a lot of time learning to
read and write. Many adults have very poor spelling.

To learn to pronounce English correctly it is of great
help to learn to read phonemic transcription and/or
have a CD or online dictionary with sound
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
Why is english spelling so erratic?
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
83% of English words have predictable
spelling

The remaining 17% is comprised of the most
commonly used, everyday words

The greatest difficulties are faced by the
learner at the start
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
not enough vowel letters for vowel sounds

English does not use accents, umlauts etc.

English spelling reflects many archaic forms of
pronunciation e.g. night in the past, was
pronounced with a fricative
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
English has always resisted spelling reforms and
academies to set standards

English spelling became fixed in the 16th-17th c. with
the arrival of printing. Many of the printers were
Flemish and had little knowledge of the language.

English has borrowed extensively from other
languages and has tended to maintain original
spelling
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
Phonetics is of particular importance for learners
of English as a Second Language (ESL) because it
has a practical application

English has a far larger repertory of phonemes
than languages like Standard Italian

English is not a phonographic language, i.e.
spelling generally does give a clear indication of
pronunciation
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SHORT







bad
bed, friend, head
good, put, should
his, it, kiss
hot, of, on
love, must, number
the, about
LONG
car, park
door, more, caught
free, me, please
girl, third, world
who, you
10

quality (i.e. the difference between /i:/ and /u:/

oral or nasal production

length
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The IPA vowel quadrilateral is a grid on which we
can plot vowels
 It indicates the total area in which vowels can be
produced by human beings, the cardinal vowels are
fixed reference points on this chart, just like lines of
longtitude and latitude on a map
 Plots of language specific vowels do not usually
correspond to the cardinal vowels, e.g. the Italian /a/
does not correspond to the cardinal vowel [a]

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The fact that Italian lacks vowels in the central area may well
explain why Italian students of English have so much trouble
with these sounds
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
English vowels differ in length as well as
in quality

These differences are as important to
perception as quality

English long vowels are far longer than
Italian equivalents (e.g. /i:/, /u:/)
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
Italian speakers of English often produce vowel
sounds that can be misinterpreted by native speakers

This is particularly important in the case of minimal
pairs i.e. where substituting one vowel sound for
another leads to semantic changes

This can be due to the irregular orthography of
English or interference from L1. We will now
examine this second case.
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
e.g. sheep v. ship
Italian speakers often use one vowel sound,
the Italian /i:/ for both. In the case of sheep the
vowel length is too short, in that of ship the
quality does not exclude ambiguity.
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
e.g. ban and bun – here the problem is one of
vowel quality

e.g. coat and court – the Italian /o/ is often
used for both
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Sound:

http://davidbrett.uniss.it/
Oral presentation:

https://www.ted.com/talks/browse
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