American English Vowels – IPA – Pronunciation – International Phonetic Alphabet


Rachel’s sound chart
Take a look at these letters. They’re not always pronounced the same. In the word ‘boo’, they have the ‘oo’ sound. In the word ‘blood’, they make the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ sound. And in the word ‘book’, they make the ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ sound. This is why the International Phonetic Alphabet makes it easier to study the pronunciation of a foreign language. This video focuses on vowels.

What is the International Phonetic Alphabet? It’s a system of phonetic notation, and I use it a lot on my website and when I teach students. I’ve also used it a lot when I’ve studied foreign languages. The IPA is especially handy when studying English because English is not a phonetic language. This means when you see a letter or a group of letters, it will not necessarily always be pronounced the same in each word in which it occurs, just as in the example at the beginning of this video. The IPA has a written symbol for each phonetic sound, so this makes it easier to read about and write about pronunciation. As a student of pronunciation, it’s important that you become familiar with the symbols that represent the sounds of American English.

The ‘ah’ sound. Say that with me, ah. Ah. This sound occurs in words like father, hot, body. Aw, say that with me, aw. This sound occurs in words like law, daughter, caught. Eh, eh. This sound occurs in the words said, head, says. EE, ee. This sound occurs in the words heat, be, receive. Ih, ih. This sound occurs in the words him, been, women. Aa, aa. This sound occurs in the words have, bad, act. Uh, uh. This sound occurs in the words love, blood, trouble. Uh, uh. The schwa. This sound occurs in the words sofa, about. Uh, uh. This sound occurs in the words book, could, pull. Ur, ur. This sound occurs in the words burn, journey, worth. Oo, oo. This vowel sound occurs in the words through, blue, do.

Great. Familiarizing yourself with these symbols should make it easier to study pronunciation. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

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