Vowel Sounds

Vowel Sounds

Vowel sounds are articulated with no obstruction in the mouth. The tongue assumes different positions and the lips are shaped accordingly. Just pronounce the vowel letters that we have (A E I O U). You will discover that no part of your mouth touches another.

Note: The letters are not the sounds.

There are twenty vowel sounds in English language. These sounds are sub-divided into two, namely: 

  • Monophthongs; these are twelve (12)
  • Diphthongs; these are eight (8)

Monophthongs

The Monophthongs are vowel sounds with one vowel element. That is, the lips and the tongue will assume one shape and position respectively. Monophthongs are also called pure vowels. There are two types of the Monophthongs:

Short vowels: a short vowel has no colon (:) sign in its transcription.

Long vowels: a long vowel has a colon (:) sign in its transcription.

/i:/

as in sea, deep, beat

/ɪ/

as in fit, sit, bi

/e/

as in wet, send, red

/æ/

as in pat, sad, man

/a:/

as in far, car, park

/ɒ/

as in cod, odd, job

/ᴐ:/

as in door, saw, ball

/ʊ/

as in put, book, good                                                 

/u:/

as in fool, shoe, do

/ʌ/

as in cut, sun, son

/ɜ:/

as in bird, work, first,

/ə/

as in advice, better, doctor

Diphthongs

Diphthongs are vowel sounds with two vowel elements. The tongue glides (moves) from one position to another and the lips will briskly change their shapes to realise the two vowel elements with one breath effort.

/ɪə/

as in ear, seer, mere

/ʊə/

as in your, poor, sure

/eə/

as in air, there, heir

/eɪ/

as in  eight, stay, age

/ɔɪ/

as in boy, oil, coin

/aɪ/

as in high, sky, buy

/aʊ/

as in  ouch, how, loud

/əʊ/

as in no, low, show

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