The difference between vowels and consonants –
common view – vowels are sounds where there is
no obstruction to the flow of air as it passes the
larynx to the lips.
The main difference is in their distribution of sounds.
In what ways are vowels different from each other?
- the shape of the tongue
- The position of the tongue
Shape and position of the tongue
The vertical distance between the upper surface of
the tongue and the palate.
The part of the tongue, between the front and back,
which is raised the highest.
Example: i: see - the tongue is held up close
to the roof of the mouth
ae cat - more space btw surface of
the tongue and palate
Front – back & close - open
~ difference between i: and ae is the difference
of tongue height.
• i: is a relatively close vowel and ae is a
relatively open vowel
~ in i: and ae front part of the tongue is raised,
:-comparatively front vowels
~ in a: calm the back of the tongue is the
highest point :- back vowel (refer trans 1 & 2)
Cardinal vowels – a standard reference system
primary cardinal vowels – the vowels that are most
familiar to European speakers.
(refer trans 2)
[i] as close and as front as possible to make a
vowel without obstructing the flow of air
[a] the most open and back vowel
[u] fully close and back
Another variable of vowel quality is lip rounding.
1. Rounded ~ where the corners of the lips are
brought towards each other and the lips are pushed
2. Spread ~ the corners of the lips move
away from each other, like smiling [i]
3. Neutral ~ lips stay neutral. Like saying “er”
• Discuss English short vowels as presented
in the cardinal charts on pages 15 & 16
• Exercises on page 18.
• Discuss English long vowels as presented in
the charts on pages19 & 20
• What are “tense” & “lax” vowels?
• Exercises on page 26
• A movement of vowels ~ glide ~ from one vowel
• The first part is much longer and stronger than the
• Example : ai eye, I :- a is
pronounced much longer and stronger than I
• Total number of diphthongs are 8. (refer trans 3)
Three groups of diphthongs
• Centring ~ the centring diphthongs glide towards
the [ ] (schwa) vowel (which is in the centre of
the cardinal chart)
• The closing diphthongs end with a glide towards a
closer vowel ~ a glide from a relatively more open
towards a relatively more close vowel.
• ending in i
• ending in u (diff. Sym!)
• Most complex vowel type
• A glide from one vowel to another and then toa
third, all produced rapidly without interruption.
• Example hour
• Triphthongs ~ composed of the 5 closing
diphthongs with the  schwa added to the end.
(refer trans 4)
** the middle of the triphthongs can hardly be
heard, thus causing confusion smts.