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Pronunciation of the letter "a"

 
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ionas



Joined: 17 May 2004
Posts: 2
Location: Madrid

PostPosted: Fri May 21, 2004 12:12 pm    Post subject: Pronunciation of the letter "a" Reply with quote

Please can anyone help me with the pronunciation of the letter a
I remember that there are 5 rules governing the pronunciation of the letter "a" but I can´t remember what they are or where i read them.

Please can anyone help me??!!

Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you in advance for replying.
Look forward to hearing from you soon.
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From what I can recall:

'a' before 'r' is like the /a:/ in f ather.

car, carnival, star, March, park, etc


'a' between two consonants "CaC" is pronounced /ae/ like in bad

mad, fat, cat, hat, etc.

--> 'a' if there's a letter 'e' at the end, then 'a' is pronounced /ei/ as in the alphabet.

made, cake

But there are many expections and nuances that I myself prefer to check a dictionary whenever in doubt.

José
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Tara B



Joined: 10 Feb 2005
Posts: 126
Location: Sterling, VA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2005 9:18 pm    Post subject: pronunciation rules Reply with quote

You need to distinguish between open and closed syllables. (Open = CV, closed = CVC)

In open syllables, you use the long vowel sound. (la-bor)
In closed syllables, you used the short vowel sound (cat) with two exceptions: 1) when there is a long vowel marker such as a silent e or an "ai" combination (make, paint); and 2) when the ending consonant of the closed syllable is a semi-vowel (l,r,w) -- then you pronounce it as a flat a (call, bar, draw).

The above rules are for single syllable words or stressed syllables in multi-syllable words. On an unstressed syllable or an unstressed word (such as the article "a") the "a" is reduced to a schwa.
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Pronunci



Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 23
Location: USA

PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 12:41 am    Post subject: Here are the five sounds the letter A can make. Reply with quote

The letter "a" in a word can stand for several different sounds:
1. the long "a" sound as in able,
2. the short "a" sound as in apple,
3. the "schwa" sound as in about,
4. the short "e" sound as in air,
5. the short "o" sound as in car.

Xin
www.PronunciationPatterns.com
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oceanbreeze



Joined: 07 Aug 2006
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Metamorfose. There are so many exceptions to the rule that, if ever in doubt, I'd rather check the phonetic transcription for the word in the dictionary.

I also teach my students the phonetic alphabet at the beginning of a course and frequently write on the board the phonetic transcriptions for words difficult to pronounce.
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Pronunci



Joined: 21 Apr 2005
Posts: 23
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: Phonetic transcript sometimes can be very confusing Reply with quote

Phonetic transcript sometimes can be very confusing especially when you have several different phonetic transcripts, International Phonetic Transcript (APA), American Phonetic Transcript (APA), and others. When I moved to the states, I cound't figure out which one was which one because I learned little about IPA but I was using American dictionary, which uses APA, to look up words.

Yes, there are so many exceptions in English pronunciation. Using phonetic transcript is a great way for visual-oriented students to learn correct pronunciation of new words. However, the problem is that remembering the pronunciation is hard. For me, I don't want to spend time on remembering those symbols which have not much meaning in real life. I uses phonics to help me remember the pronunciation. For example, I know that the letter i in pint is pronounced as the long I sound. However, for other words such as mint, link, tint, etc, I could use the pattern to help you recall their pronunciation instead of remembering the phonetic symbols for all of those words. I always tell my users to use my program look up the pronunciation in the dictionary first, then they can apply the patterns or rules in my program to help them remember the pronunciation. If they can apply the pattern, that means one more phonetic transcript they don't have to remember.


Xin
http://www.PronunciationPatterns.com
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Buddhaheart



Joined: 05 Jan 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Vancouver, BC Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:57 am    Post subject: Pronunciation of the letter "a" Reply with quote

Don’t forget sometimes grapheme ‘a’ takes a walk too (i.e. silent) as in “read” \riːd\ or “heat” \hiːt\, thanks to the famous (or infamous) 2-vowel rule.

“Call” depending on your dialect can be uttered with a Cardinal vowel #6 (IPA symbol open O, a low back rounded phoneme) as the 'a' in 'ball' or the'o' in "cord" in addition to the flat a (I believe that is the IPA script A Cardinal vowel #5 (a low back unrounded phoneme)) as mentioned.
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

Don’t forget sometimes grapheme ‘a’ takes a walk too (i.e. silent) as in “read” \riːd\ or “heat” \hiːt\, thanks to the famous (or infamous) 2-vowel rule.


Don't you think in this case we can generalise and boldly say that the graphemes ea will always (or almost always) sound like /i:/, so that students grasp this ea as one thing (as we do with some consonant combination like th,sh for example) and then we can reduce their mind load.

read, heat, teach, tea, sea, flea

The same goes to oa that always sounds /ou/

cloak, boat, goal, toast...


Quote:

“Call” depending on your dialect can be uttered with a Cardinal vowel #6 (IPA symbol open O, a low back rounded phoneme) as the 'a' in 'ball' or the'o' in "cord" in addition to the flat a (I believe that is the IPA script A Cardinal vowel #5 (a low back unrounded phoneme)) as mentioned.


It's in indeed Cardinal vowel #5, I've just checked, that's funny, I have always been told that this grapheme <a> in call should never be pronounced as /a:/ like in father, just after I started studying phonetics and phonology I realised that things weren't as simple as many people wish they were.

José
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

read, heat, teach, tea, sea, flea


Oh well, checked this now...

instead, breast

Here we could say that <a> is mute as these words has the vowel sound /e/.



José
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Eric18



Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 5:33 am    Post subject: informative Reply with quote

Thank you for that solid primer.
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