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#1
Old 04-28-2011, 11:41 AM
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Common words where W is a vowel

Missed the really obvious one, IMO, and the one my brother always cited when telling a teacher that W was sometimes a vowel: owl.
Owl is a two-syllable word, so you then ask what the vowel in the second syllable is, and your choices are the L or the W.

I suspect that this is because W or "double-u" was originally a double U, and so the word was really ouul, and pronounced ou-ul, or "ow-wul". But I could be wrong about that.
I am not wrong, however, about owl being an incredibly common word where the W is obviously a vowel.


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LINK TO COLUMN: https://academicpursuits.us/columns/...sed-as-a-vowel

Last edited by C K Dexter Haven; 04-28-2011 at 08:51 PM.
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#2
Old 04-28-2011, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by SpyOne View Post
Missed the really obvious one, IMO, and the one my brother always cited when telling a teacher that W was sometimes a vowel: owl.
Owl is a two-syllable word, so you then ask what the vowel in the second syllable is, and your choices are the L or the W.

I suspect that this is because W or "double-u" was originally a double U, and so the word was really ouul, and pronounced ou-ul, or "ow-wul". But I could be wrong about that.
I am not wrong, however, about owl being an incredibly common word where the W is obviously a vowel.
“Owl” is not a two-syllable word in most dialects. (Indeed, if I were an expert dialectician, I could probably make a fair guess at where you live based on the fact that you say that.) And the connection between w and “double u” is much more complicated than that. The usual Middle English spelling of the word is “oule”, pronounced, approximately, “oh-leh”.
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#3
Old 04-28-2011, 12:22 PM
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Owl is a one-syllable word. It's contains a diphthong.

I can't think of any word in which "w" is used as a vowel.

ETA: I can't think of any English words, at any rate... W is often used as a vowel in, say, Welsh.
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#4
Old 04-28-2011, 01:50 PM
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ugh, I hate that "sometimes y and w" crap in teaching. W is a diphthong, which is like a 'helper vowel'. "W" can adjust how we pronounce vowels.

Traditional A E I O U vowels have specific purposes that are set apart from dipthongs. Sometimes -ow can sound like 'ouch' and sometimes it can sound like a long o. (Cowl v. crow) But you will never see "w" by itself acting as a "vowel" unless it's borrowed from another language. It just blends two vowel sounds in the same syllable. I highly doubt people with 'accents' pay attention to the IPA.

It confuses children to say that it is a vowel imho. In my day, we just called it phonics. When my son is reading and he comes across something that doesn't 'sound' right, I remind him that we used to pronounce things differently or I remind him of the phonics rule.

Sometimes he uses a very literal phonetic pronunciation of a word he doesn't know and then says the entire sentence in fake British-like accent or just reads the word before it and figures it out. Then he says English is stupid. He can actually blend consonants and vowels faster in Hebrew than in English and he doesn't even know what he's reading.

My son's teachers don't even TEACH VOWELS. It frustrates me. They do ending sounds and blending. So he gets lists with endings like:

-ould
-ow
-ar
-ing

I spent a week teaching him the basics of A E I O U and (Later, how Y can sub for E or say I). Dipthongs I just teach in groups. No use in confusing a six year old.

Even in the word "little" you can hear the second /l/ sound. "L..ih...t...l...eh" "

"Litteleh. Little! It says little!"
#5
Old 04-28-2011, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Cecil
In cow, for instance, W is a vowel, but make the word coward and you can hear W working as a consonant.
If that's true, then "w" is only a consonant if it is followed by a vowel.
#6
Old 04-28-2011, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
ugh, I hate that "sometimes y and w" crap in teaching. W is a diphthong, which is like a 'helper vowel'. "W" can adjust how we pronounce vowels.
A dipththong is not a "helper vowel," amigo. From the Enyclopedia Britannica:

Quote:
Originally Posted by what did I just say?
in phonetics, a gliding vowel in the articulation of which there is a continuous transition from one position to another. Diphthongs are to be contrasted in this respect with so-called pure vowels—i.e., unchanging, or steady state, vowels. Though they are single speech sounds, diphthongs are usually represented, in a phonetic transcription of speech, by means of a pair of characters indicating the initial and final configurations of the vocal tract. Many of the vowel sounds in most dialects of English are diphthongs: e.g., the vowels of “out” and “ice,” represented as [au] and [ai], respectively.
And y is frequently a vowel (and here I am using vowel to mean "letter representing a monophthongal or diphthongal) sound. Take the fourth word in the previous sentence, for instance. Y is often used to represent the sound of short i, as in Pennsylvania. Note that the i in that word is being used to represent the consonantal sound (well, glide) of the y in yes.

I can't think of any English words in which w is used as a vowel by itself (there may be some in the article but I'm too lazy to click that). Rather is the second half of a digraph representing a dipthong. But the letters we normally think of as vowels can all be used that way as well. Think of the i in rain, the a in boat, the u in thousand, the e in piece, or the o in Tao.

Bear in mind also that l, m, and r can all be vocalic. Also bear in mind that the common A E I O U framework you refer to leaves out some of the common monophthongs (the "pure" vowels which have but one articulatory position). American English uses about 9 of those, not five.

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 04-28-2011 at 02:15 PM.
#7
Old 04-28-2011, 02:46 PM
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I think that in words where "ew" is pronounced /ju:/ (e.g., "ewe" and "few") the "w" represents a vowel sound, because the /j/ corresponds with the letter "e" and the /u:/ with the letter "w".
#8
Old 04-28-2011, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Giles View Post
I think that in words where "ew" is pronounced /ju:/ (e.g., "ewe" and "few") the "w" represents a vowel sound, because the /j/ corresponds with the letter "e" and the /u:/ with the letter "w".
That's right, but it's still not that simple.

In the words row and bow (whether they're being pronounced to rhyme with cow or blow), the w serves the same purpose as the a in boat or the u in out: that is, it indicates a diphthongal pronounciation ( and ). I can't see a good reason consider it any less a vowel in those contexts than the a or u.

I think the confusion arises from the notion (reinforced by A E I O U scheme) that there are 5 "short" vowels, 5 "long" vowels, and no more. But even a moment's thought will bring up the sounds of toy and thou.

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 04-28-2011 at 02:53 PM.
#9
Old 04-28-2011, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
If that's true, then "w" is only a consonant if it is followed by a vowel.
Wrong.
#10
Old 04-28-2011, 03:07 PM
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Owl is a two-syllable word, so you then ask what the vowel in the second syllable is, and your choices are the L or the W.
If I make myself pronounce "Owl" with two syllables, the second vowel seems to me to be the L. Just like the vowel in the second syllable of "rhythm" or "chasm" is the M.
#11
Old 04-28-2011, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
Wrong.
You're being pithily witty, of course, but I feel obliged to point out that the only consonants which follow w in contemporary English pronunciation (without there being a change of syllable) are h and r. The h is silent nowadays (unless you're Stewie Griffin, while the w is silent when followed by r (as in, obviously, wrong.) So I'm not sure that counts.

It might be noted that w is never pronounced consonantally at the end of a word. What that means I don't know. Well, actually I came up with what I thought was a devastating argument but then I forgot what it was. Something about the letter h.
#12
Old 04-28-2011, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
A dipththong is not a "helper vowel," amigo. From the [I]Enyclopedia Britannica:
I was in six year old language mode. The diphthong is not a diphthong without a traditional vowel.

I also tell my son that double consonants protect the vowel. So "little" is not litle.
Quote:
And y is frequently a vowel (and here I am using vowel to mean "letter representing a monophthongal or diphthongal) sound. Take the fourth word in the previous sentence, for instance. Y is often used to represent the sound of short i, as in Pennsylvania. Note that the i in that word is being used to represent the consonantal sound (well, glide) of the y in yes.
I don't disagree. I was just repeating what kids often hear - the 'sometimes y' or 'sometimes y and w'. "Y" says 'yuh' or 'i' or 'e'.
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I can't think of any English words in which w is used as a vowel by itself (there may be some in the article but I'm too lazy to click that). Rather is the second half of a digraph representing a dipthong. But the letters we normally think of as vowels can all be used that way as well. Think of the i in rain, the a in boat, the u in thousand, the e in piece, or the o in Tao.
Consider teaching methods. Is that how you learned how to read?

Kids start like this: Learn alphabet. Learn the sounds. Blend sounds. C-A-T. Then it's C-A-T-E. Then it's C-A-I-N. Then it's plurals, phonics (er, diphthongs).

I understand the concept of vowels, pronunciation, and open mouthed sounds and such. I think it's perfectly reasonable to distinguish between traditional vowels and...the rest of youz.

Quote:
Bear in mind also that l, m, and r can all be vocalic. Also bear in mind that the common A E I O U framework you refer to leaves out some of the common monophthongs (the "pure" vowels which have but one articulatory position). American English uses about 9 of those, not five.
[/QUOTE]

I don't know what you're trying to lecture me about. I just gave a presentation to ESL teachers on the different sounds a plural verb form has. (ez, es, ess, iz, etc). I get what you're saying re: vowels.

I'm talking about A E I O U as a starting point for 5 year olds. Most of the nuances you describe they'll pick up without having been taught. Anyway, Cecil could've done a better job of explaining that to someone who wasn't a linguistics or English major....or super nerd.


edit: Now I keep thinking about thong underwear.

Last edited by Farmer Jane; 04-28-2011 at 03:32 PM.
#13
Old 04-28-2011, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
You're being pithily witty, of course
Well, of course.
Quote:
but I feel obliged to point out that the only consonants which follow w in contemporary English pronunciation (without there being a change of syllable) are h and r.
I won't scowl at you, even though you're downright wrong--I mean hey, join the crowd!

(If I'm missing your point, sorry!)
Quote:
It might be noted that w is never pronounced consonantally at the end of a word. What that means I don't know. Well, actually I came up with what I thought was a devastating argument but then I forgot what it was. Something about the letter h.
And here's an honest non-snarky question: my mouth is the same shape at the beginning and end of the word "Wow!" Is the initial w a consonant and the terminal w a vowel? Because that seems weird to me.
#14
Old 04-28-2011, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
I don't know what you're trying to lecture me about. I just wrote/created a presentation on the different sounds a plural verb form has. (ez, es, ess, iz, etc). I'm talking about A E I O U as a starting point for 5 year olds. Most of the nuances you describe they'll pick up without having been taught.
I'm not lecturing. Lecturing requires emotional involvement in the subject, which requires empathy, which I only have for Memphians, which you are not.

You wrote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenPained, upthread
W is a diphthong, which is like a 'helper vowel'.
That's not right. It's hugely wrong. It's like saying The United States is a democratic republic, which means it is illegal not to vote in this country. So far from the mark that it renders everything else you wrote suspect.

I'm not claiming to be a phoneticist or an expert. I'm sure that I've written remarks far stupider than that on this board at one time or another.
#15
Old 04-28-2011, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
Well, of course.

I won't scowl at you, even though you're downright wrong--I mean hey, join the crowd!
If you mean that I should have included s in my list, you are correct; I realized that as I was typing this response. But I can think of no other times when w is followed by any other consonant except when it is acting as a vowel (i.e., as the second letter in a digraph representing a vowel sound). If you can, please tell me; I'm always pleased to learn something.

Quote:
And here's an honest non-snarky question: my mouth is the same shape at the beginning and end of the word "Wow!" Is the initial w a consonant and the terminal w a vowel? Because that seems weird to me
Get a mirror. Say wow. Say ow (as in the sound indicating pain). Say wowed. Say thou.

Then get back to me. Remember, incidentally, that the lips are not the only parts of the vocal system involved in making sounds.

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 04-28-2011 at 03:42 PM.
#16
Old 04-28-2011, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
I won't scowl at you, even though you're downright wrong--I mean hey, join the crowd!

(If I'm missing your point, sorry!)
--and of course I was: you were referring to consonant w, right?
#17
Old 04-28-2011, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
--and of course I was: you were referring to consonant w, right?
Yep. I could've been clearer, though, so don't slap yourself. I also should have noted that when w is followed by s, as in cows, it's being used as as vowel. And then I should have said something about l. Honestly, that post was made of fail.

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 04-28-2011 at 03:46 PM.
#18
Old 04-28-2011, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
You're being pithily witty, of course, but I feel obliged to point out that the only consonants which follow w in contemporary English pronunciation (without there being a change of syllable) are h and r. The h is silent nowadays (unless you're Stewie Griffin, while the w is silent when followed by r (as in, obviously, wrong.) So I'm not sure that counts.

It might be noted that w is never pronounced consonantally at the end of a word. What that means I don't know. Well, actually I came up with what I thought was a devastating argument but then I forgot what it was. Something about the letter h.
Who what?

Do you mean that 'w' is never just 'w' at the end of the word? it's always -ow, -aw, -iw or some such? Still, it has the wuh sound, so this is why I hate teaching kids that W is a vowel because they will start to confuse it with A E I O U. Better to teach groups, like:

-ow
-ar
-ew

etc.

How about "mow"? "O" has the long sound but "w" is still pretty pronounced.

I'm starting to wonder if I have an accent. When I look at the IPA pronunciations in the dictionary, I'm like, huh? It's said that way? IPA gives me a headache, anyway, since I have a hard time distinguishing between nuances. (I'm deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other.)

Dictionary.com's take:

walk: (wawk) IPA: /wɔk/ - I have a flick of an /l/ in my walk. Is this like the British English pronunciation?

wok: (wok) IPA: /wɒk/ - Pretty close..not sure if I've said "wok" out loud, though.
#19
Old 04-28-2011, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
Kids start like this: Learn alphabet. Learn the sounds.
Humans learn to speak long before they recognize letters.

The problem with this whole discussion is the conflation of written symbols ("W" etc.) with the sounds English speakers make. It's meaningless to say that "W" is a "vowel" until you make the distinction clear that it is a symbol that may or may not represent vowel production in some way.

Calling a letter a "vowel" is just a convention of convenience for teaching spelling (to native speakers, mostly).

To say that "W is vowel" SIMPLY because we sometimes use it to represent a diphthong is meaningless. You might as well say that "G" and "H" are vowels, too, because we use them to represent the vowel sound in the word "straight."
#20
Old 04-28-2011, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
Who what?
In those cases the w is silent; it's the h being pronounced. Anyway, I was joking. Fully 27% of my posts contain an intentional absurdity. (56% contain unintentional ones.) That's why 98% of the board hates me. Give it time and you will too!

Quote:
Do you mean that 'w' is never just 'w' at the end of the word? it's always -ow, -aw, -iw or some such? Still, it has the wuh sound, so this is why I hate teaching kids that W is a vowel because they will start to confuse it with A E I O U. Better to teach groups, like:

-ow
-ar
-ew

etc.

How about "mow"? "O" has the long sound but "w" is still pretty pronounced.
Long o is a diphthong. The sound at the end of mow is the same as hoe, dough, so, sew, and beau. And that is not a consonant. That sound begins with the articulatory position of the schwa and flows to the articulatory position of the u in pull. (I think. Too lazy to check.) It's a single sound nonetheless, but it is no more a consonant than the long a of day, the long e of key, or the long i of thigh.

Quote:
I'm starting to wonder if I have an accent. When I look at the IPA pronunciations in the dictionary, I'm like, huh? It's said that way? IPA gives me a headache, anyway, since I have a hard time distinguishing between nuances. (I'm deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other.)

Dictionary.com's take:

walk: (wawk) IPA: /wɔk/ - I have a flick of an /l/ in my walk. Is this like the British English pronunciation?

wok: (wok) IPA: /wɒk/ - Pretty close..not sure if I've said "wok" out loud, though.


Everyone has an accent. There are people who claim that one English accent is correct and all the others are incorrect; the techncial term for them is assholes.
#21
Old 04-28-2011, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by guizot View Post
Humans learn to speak long before they recognize letters.

The problem with this whole discussion is the conflation of written symbols ("W" etc.) with the sounds English speakers make. It's meaningless to say that "W" is a "vowel" until you make the distinction clear that it is a symbol that may or may not represent vowel production in some way.

Calling a letter a "vowel" is just a convention of convenience for teaching spelling (to native speakers, mostly).

To say that "W is vowel" SIMPLY because we sometimes use it to represent a diphthong is meaningless. You might as well say that "G" and "H" are vowels, too, because we use them to represent the vowel sound in the word "straight."
Of course. But kids learn to associate sounds with symbols. That's what I meant by "learn sounds". You know, the typical "A is for apple."

I think the A E I O U concept is good when teaching reading. I think. That's how I learned...and that's how my son figured it out. Did you guys do something like this or was I outdated in the 80s?

I think ai is a diphthong...ght is a diphthong.

god, whatever happened to the 'a says its name and i is silent' in 'rain'? I can see how teaching vowel combinations (ai) is useful since kids will have to learn how to spell. But how is that different than 'bane'?
#22
Old 04-28-2011, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
Of course. But kids learn to associate sounds with symbols. That's what I meant by "learn sounds". You know, the typical "A is for apple."

I think the A E I O U concept is good when teaching reading. I think. That's how I learned...and that's how my son figured it out. Did you guys do something like this or was I outdated in the 80s?

I think ai is a diphthong...ght is a diphthong.

god, whatever happened to the 'a says its name and i is silent' in 'rain'? I can see how teaching vowel combinations (ai) is useful since kids will have to learn how to spell. But how is that different than 'bane'?
Ght is not a diphthong.

Again: The term diphthong refers to sounds. It's a gliding monosyllable sound that beings at the articulatory position of one vowel (properly, one monophthong) and ends at the articulatory postition of another. The sound of long i, as in I am Skald the Rhymer, is a dipththong. So are the sounds at the ends of toy, bee, thou, and day.

Ght is never used to represent the long i by itself, but only after an i.
#23
Old 04-28-2011, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
In those cases the w is silent; it's the h being pronounced. Anyway, I was joking. Fully 27% of my posts contain an intentional absurdity. (56% contain unintentional ones.) That's why 98% of the board hates me. Give it time and you will too!
I'm sure by the end of this post...
Quote:
Long o is a diphthong. The sound at the end of mow is the same as hoe, dough, so, sew, and beau.
What?!? My lips purse a bit when I say "mow". Like mow a lawn. And I say all of those words a little differently.

Quote:
And that is not a consonant. That sound begins with the articulatory position of the schwa and flows to the articulatory position of the u in pull. (I think. Too lazy to check.) It's a single sound nonetheless, but it is no more a consonant than the long a of day, the long e of key, or the long i of thigh.
Glad I already know how to read and this isn't my area.
Quote:


Everyone has an accent. There are people who claim that one English accent is correct and all the others are incorrect; the techncial term for them is assholes.
I don't say 'incorrect'. I just say 'accent'. I'm from the midwest. People on TV sound like me. (:
#24
Old 04-28-2011, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
Ght is not a diphthong.

Again: The term diphthong refers to sounds. It's a gliding monosyllable sound that beings at the articulatory position of one vowel (properly, one monophthong) and ends at the articulatory postition of another. The sound of long i, as in I am Skald the Rhymer, is a dipththong. So are the sounds at the ends of toy, bee, thou, and day.

Ght is never used to represent the long i by itself, but only after an i.

-ight, sorry.
#25
Old 04-28-2011, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
-ight, sorry.
ight isn't a diphthong either. A diphthong is not a collection of letters; it is a sort of sound. I and eye are pronounced the same; that sound is a diphthong. So are the sounds at the end of say, see, so, sue and soy.

You are, I think, confusing the idea of diphthongs with that of digraphs. I was going to go on a long boring explanation of the difference between the two terms, but I got irritated with myself and had to kick my own ass.

:: limps off, wimpering ::

ETA: And so we're clear, I wasn't calling you an asshole above. I don't do stealthy insults. Against the Rhymer code.

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 04-28-2011 at 05:09 PM.
#26
Old 04-28-2011, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
god, whatever happened to the 'a says its name and i is silent' in 'rain'?
Personally, I feel that "rules" like that can be helpful for native speakers in becoming literate (because they already know the language and its sounds). But the problem for those learning a language is that descriptions like that seem to suggest that writing drives the language--that the writing systems pre-exists the speaking. Such descriptions lead to incorrect notions of the vowel system of English in particular, which is large, complex and has many subtleties, the mastery of which competency depends upon.

One common example is to describe the vowels as being either "long' or "short," in a binary way (I.e., "long A, short A, long E, short E," etc.) as though English had only 10 vowels. This can help native speaking children decode the written language when they get stuck at times, but if they actually assimilated this concept in earnestness, they'd go crazy, because it can't be used to describe the four vowel sounds in as found in these four words:

father
cat
hate
a


Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
I can see how teaching vowel combinations (ai) is useful since kids will have to learn how to spell. But how is that different than 'bane'?
If you portray the vowel in a word like "pain" as a "combination," you can end up with mispronunciation by those who don't have a native familiarity with the word, because it's really one sound (albeit a diphthong), not a "combination" of two distinct sounds, (even though we use two symbols to represent that one sound).

I feel that these kinds of "rules" for native speakers are indeed useful, as a kind of very short-term "crutch" or bridge, when the basic vocabulary that they already know is still largely unfamiliar as represented in print. I also feel, however, it is precisely that native familiarity which limits the usefulness of such rules, because once a child gains a certain basic level of reading competency, sheer exposure (by pleasurable, free-time reading), ingrains those kinds of orthographic "rules" subconsciously anyway.
#27
Old 04-28-2011, 05:14 PM
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NM

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 04-28-2011 at 05:14 PM.
#28
Old 04-28-2011, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
NM
Nope, there's no vowel there. Maybe nwm might work, like cwm.
#29
Old 04-28-2011, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
ight isn't a diphthong either. A diphthong is not a collection of letters; it is a sort of sound. I and eye are pronounced the same; that sound is a diphthong. So are the sounds at the end of say, see, so, sue and soy.

You are, I think, confusing the idea of diphthongs with that of digraphs. I was going to go on a long boring explanation of the difference between the two terms, but I got irritated with myself and had to kick my own ass.

:: limps off, wimpering ::

ETA: And so we're clear, I wasn't calling you an asshole above. I don't do stealthy insults. Against the Rhymer code.
igh ?

I say "I" and "eye" differently. :/
#30
Old 04-28-2011, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guizot View Post
Personally, I feel that "rules" like that can be helpful for native speakers in becoming literate (because they already know the language and its sounds). But the problem for those learning a language is that descriptions like that seem to suggest that writing drives the language--that the writing systems pre-exists the speaking. Such descriptions lead to incorrect notions of the vowel system of English in particular, which is large, complex and has many subtleties, the mastery of which competency depends upon.

One common example is to describe the vowels as being either "long' or "short," in a binary way (I.e., "long A, short A, long E, short E," etc.) as though English had only 10 vowels. This can help native speaking children decode the written language when they get stuck at times, but if they actually assimilated this concept in earnestness, they'd go crazy, because it can't be used to describe the four vowel sounds in as found in these four words:

father
cat
hate
a


If you portray the vowel in a word like "pain" as a "combination," you can end up with mispronunciation by those who don't have a native familiarity with the word, because it's really one sound (albeit a diphthong), not a "combination" of two distinct sounds, (even though we use two symbols to represent that one sound).
Combination of vowels: I guess I thought A and I were two different vowels. I get what you're saying. Sounds. And yet somehow I didn't know that eye and I were the same thing. I suppose it's the same sound...my mouth moves differently, though. I'm so exhausted (sorry, It's been 30+ hours without sleep) that I'm probably not making any sense.

Quote:
I feel that these kinds of "rules" for native speakers are indeed useful, as a kind of very short-term "crutch" or bridge, when the basic vocabulary that they already know is still largely unfamiliar as represented in print. I also feel, however, it is precisely that native familiarity which limits the usefulness of such rules, because once a child gains a certain basic level of reading competency, sheer exposure (by pleasurable, free-time reading), ingrains those kinds of orthographic "rules" subconsciously anyway.
Agreed...but I've seen reading systems where they do group sounds.

So you'd have:

"ai"
vain
bain
rain
lain

"ould"

should
would
could

"og"

bog
fog
dog
hog

"ar"

car
bar
star


I learned it with the photo I showed - symbols telling me what was a short a versus a long a and what was silent. We learned the rules at the same time. The phonics - er, digraphs- like ph, sh, ch, ck, etc., would be underlined. (We called those sounds phonics...it stuck in my head.) After awhile, it just became obvious. I was reading C.S. Lewis by first grade with ease.

I keep using typical teacher/educator/parent language in here. Short vowels and long vowels. Sorry. 26 years of habit.

Last edited by Farmer Jane; 04-28-2011 at 07:00 PM.
#31
Old 04-28-2011, 07:11 PM
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I dislike the A E I O U thing they teach kids. It was obvious to me in kindergarten that it doesn't accurately describe how English works, but I didn't know any better at the time. I wonder how much training elementary school teachers get in basic linguistics.
#32
Old 04-28-2011, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
igh ?

I say "I" and "eye" differently. :/
I 'ave something in my eiiieeyeeeie!
#33
Old 04-28-2011, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Attack from the 3rd dimension View Post
Nope, there's no vowel there. Maybe nwm might work, like cwm.
Can I just say: I've known about the existence of "cwm" (def: a half-open steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion) for many years, but assumed I'd never see it used in print except 1) in reference to a word that uses 'w' as a vowel, or 2) in pangrams like "Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz."

However, just the other day, I was reading an excerpt from Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, and encountered this word in actual context. I got really excited and showed my SO, who was not nearly as impressed.


To the OP: yes, "owl" contains a diphthong, usually considered to be one syllable in most dialects. But are you ready to have your mind blown? The phoneme "r" when not rolled ("rrrruffles have rrrridges") is a vowel.

Is your mind blown?
#34
Old 04-28-2011, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
I can't think of any English words in which w is used as a vowel by itself (there may be some in the article but I'm too lazy to click that).
“Cwm”, although basically a Welsh word, is listed in English dictionaries, signifying that, like “bonjour”, “pianissimo”, “ersatz”, “toreador”, or “aloha”, it at least has a green card. (The editors of the original Oxford English Dictionary tried to popularize the word “denizen” for such cases.)
__________________
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"The blind rulers of Logres
Nourished the land on a fallacy of rational virtue."
-- Charles Williams. Taliessin through Logres: Prelude
#35
Old 04-28-2011, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Randy Seltzer View Post
Can I just say: I've known about the existence of "cwm" (def: a half-open steep-sided hollow at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion) for many years, but assumed I'd never see it used in print except 1) in reference to a word that uses 'w' as a vowel, or 2) in pangrams like "Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz."

However, just the other day, I was reading an excerpt from Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, and encountered this word in actual context. I got really excited and showed my SO, who was not nearly as impressed.


To the OP: yes, "owl" contains a diphthong, usually considered to be one syllable in most dialects. But are you ready to have your mind blown? The phoneme "r" when not rolled ("rrrruffles have rrrridges") is a vowel.

Is your mind blown?
I've avoided reading that book up until now, but if it has that word in it, in context, I may reconsider. For what it's worth, I suspect my spouse would have been quite stoked, but we've been known to have long discussions about the semicolon, so it's not too amazing.
#36
Old 04-28-2011, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Ruken View Post
I dislike the A E I O U thing they teach kids. It was obvious to me in kindergarten that it doesn't accurately describe how English works, but I didn't know any better at the time. I wonder how much training elementary school teachers get in basic linguistics.
None. And kids know it doesn't work every time.

How would you teach children to read?
#37
Old 04-28-2011, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attack from the 3rd dimension View Post
I 'ave something in my eiiieeyeeeie!


I - jaw drop down, more like, eye-yih, but quickly if at the beginning of a sentence
eye - mouth open in a sort of horizontal fashion (feel free to tell me the technical lingo), like aye

No wonder people dislike me at first meeting. : (
#38
Old 04-28-2011, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
Do you mean that 'w' is never just 'w' at the end of the word? it's always -ow, -aw, -iw or some such? Still, it has the wuh sound, so this is why I hate teaching kids that W is a vowel because they will start to confuse it with A E I O U.
I may be the only person in the English-speaking world who views it this way*, but the fact that it has the wuh sound is what makes "w" primarily a vowel.

"Wuh" is nothing more than a drawn-out "oo."

Just as "yuh" is a drawn-out "ee", making "y" primarily a vowel as well.

This occurred to me some twenty years ago when I was teaching the speech synthesizer board on my wife's computer how to pronounce some words that were missing from the software's built-in dictionary.

*My position is that a consonant is a sound particle that cannot be fully voiced without being paired with a sound particle that is fully voiced (and I say "sound particle" because "phoneme" feels stilted and possibly incorrectly used when I use it in this argument).
#39
Old 04-28-2011, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
Agreed...but I've seen reading systems where they do group sounds.

So you'd have:

"ai"
vain
bain
rain
lain

"ould"

should
would
could


bog
fog
dog
hog
And these are effective, I believe, because really the two letters in the first two groups are cognitively processed as one symbol, to create a repertoire of "sight words" for the beginning reader. They aren't analyzed as two distinct things. (I think it's important that the vowel (sounds) represented by such lists are pure (stressed), and not part of multi-syllabic words like "captain" etc., and also that they use the same coda for each item--they're using rime) Once the developing reader has a large enough basic repertoire, s/he then only very occasionally draws upon these patterns to comprehend words in terms of rime. This above list, for example, isn't what helps the reader decode something like "shoulder" or "yogurt." A list which previously presented to the learner ould and og as letters which somehow intrinsically "make sounds" doesn't trip up the learning reader because higher level cognitive processing is engaged using whole language and native familiarity. Otherwise, we'd never learn to read competently.

Even though just about all teachers present letters to kids as things that "make sounds," they're too intelligent to let that prevent them from learning how to read correctly.
#40
Old 04-28-2011, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
god, whatever happened to the 'a says its name and i is silent' in 'rain'? I can see how teaching vowel combinations (ai) is useful since kids will have to learn how to spell. But how is that different than 'bane'?
Oh, that's easy. The "a" is the little kid vowel who lives in the house. The "n" is the back door of the house. When Mrs. "e" comes to visit, she knocks at the back door (because it's the fifties, and people were informal about those kinds of things) and the "a" kid says his name.

Or, there's the Tom Lehrer approach:

Who can turn a man into a mane?
Who can turn a ban into a bane?


#41
Old 04-29-2011, 05:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post


I - jaw drop down, more like, eye-yih, but quickly if at the beginning of a sentence
eye - mouth open in a sort of horizontal fashion (feel free to tell me the technical lingo), like aye

No wonder people dislike me at first meeting. : (
Because you talk like a pirate?
#42
Old 04-29-2011, 06:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John W. Kennedy View Post
“Cwm”, although basically a Welsh word, is listed in English dictionaries, signifying that, like “bonjour”, “pianissimo”, “ersatz”, “toreador”, or “aloha”, it at least has a green card. (The editors of the original Oxford English Dictionary tried to popularize the word “denizen” for such cases.)
"Ersatz," really? I would have counted that as a fully-assimilated English word.
#43
Old 04-29-2011, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
I'm not lecturing. Lecturing requires emotional involvement in the subject, which requires empathy, which I only have for Memphians, which you are not.

You wrote


That's not right. It's hugely wrong. It's like saying The United States is a democratic republic, which means it is illegal not to vote in this country. So far from the mark that it renders everything else you wrote suspect.

I'm not claiming to be a phoneticist or an expert. I'm sure that I've written remarks far stupider than that on this board at one time or another.
You also just taught me that 'stupider' is a word.
#44
Old 04-29-2011, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attack from the 3rd dimension View Post
I talk with distinction. We had to pronounce things certain ways in grammar school...plus I was terribly afraid I'd slip into my mother's Wisconsinite (is that correct?) accent.

I didn't use slang or contractions until high school.
#45
Old 04-29-2011, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guizot View Post
And these are effective, I believe, because really the two letters in the first two groups are cognitively processed as one symbol, to create a repertoire of "sight words" for the beginning reader. They aren't analyzed as two distinct things. (I think it's important that the vowel (sounds) represented by such lists are pure (stressed), and not part of multi-syllabic words like "captain" etc., and also that they use the same coda for each item--they're using rime) Once the developing reader has a large enough basic repertoire, s/he then only very occasionally draws upon these patterns to comprehend words in terms of rime. This above list, for example, isn't what helps the reader decode something like "shoulder" or "yogurt." A list which previously presented to the learner ould and og as letters which somehow intrinsically "make sounds" doesn't trip up the learning reader because higher level cognitive processing is engaged using whole language and native familiarity. Otherwise, we'd never learn to read competently.

Even though just about all teachers present letters to kids as things that "make sounds," they're too intelligent to let that prevent them from learning how to read correctly.
But A E I O U is ineffective?
#46
Old 04-29-2011, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
Wrong.
(Took me a while.)
#47
Old 04-29-2011, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by CitizenPained View Post
igh ?

I say "I" and "eye" differently. :/
You're not alone in that. The sound of "eye", identical to the "long i" sound, begins with the articulation of a as in man and ends with the articulation of i as in mint. Many persons pronounce the first person singular pronoun as an entirely different vowel. But "standard" American pronunciation (read: what you'll see in dictionaries like Merriam-Webster & American Heritage) has I prnounced as the long I.
#48
Old 04-29-2011, 12:38 PM
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Quoth guizot:
Quote:
Such descriptions lead to incorrect notions of the vowel system of English in particular, which is large, complex and has many subtleties, the mastery of which competency depends upon.
Indeed. I hang out with a lot of foreigners, and most of them have trouble with English vowels. Most other languages only have five or ten vowels, but English has something like 19 of them.
#49
Old 04-29-2011, 02:46 PM
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Phonology is not my thing. For one, I'm partially deaf. Two, it's just not my interest. I care more about second language acquisition and linguistic relativity. Three, I apparently hear (or mis hear) things that others don't. And no, I do not talk like a pirate.

My son's school uses F.A.S.T. It's a little bit of everything. They play with letters on the board, do grouping sounds, and books like "The dog and the frog sat on a log." That same book is used twice a week. Once during reading time (Thursdays) and the other for homework Thursday nights. When he does it for homework, he has it memorized...and he looks at the pictures for clues.

They have worksheets where you make a little "book" and fill in the "sound" that's missing (the letter) and then circle a letter/letters in a word search as many time as you find it.

They have homework where you sort pictures based on sounds. The sound is at the top and you place all the pictures underneath (dog, frog, hog, log). That's good if you know what the pictures are, what with synonyms or whatever.

They used to send home paper with sounds or letters that they had to write in a line...but not anymore. Oh, they also send home a list of sight words to practice at home...in flash card form...I had sight words, too, but I also had a spelling list (which I know isn't the trend right now) and all of my words were put into context.

+10 other methods/tools that I don't understand.

Sounds like a fucking headache to me. I don't care much for Crayola explosion, but I'm also the type who likes lectures and hates group projects.

His growth since August in reading? Minimal. Yet he's still at "kindergarten" stage, so he's "normal" by shitty CO standards.

They do 'phonics' 15 mins a day (and reading groups 2x a week with 'dog and log' type books) and 'free writing' a few times a week. They're just encouraged to figure it out on their own when it comes to spelling and word order. I guess that's okay, but again, not an expert in this area. I had no idea what his 'stories' said most of the time. Guess what? Neither did he.

Of course they do reading, writing, and a little Hebrew all day because that's the nature of school, but the actual practice is minimal. And confusing (to me).

They've kind of thrown a bunch of different things at the kids...they get homework but there's no continuity...no regimen...just...'stuff related to reading'. I think this works for certain kids, but not mine.

So perhaps I am old-fashioned, or out of touch, or I don't know anything about reading, but I threw up my hands at what they were doing and did my own thing at home. You know. The way I learned it. Cause I was reading at three and Judah is six and is not getting whatever it is they are doing. By this time, I had requested he be put on their watch list and tested twice before the year was out and again in the beginning of next year. If he's not progressing enough, then he can get an eval for an LD.

He started speaking late and does that common "write upside down, backward, inside out and all over the page" stuff. You do not write words in a circle. You write them on a line. In a certain direction. He'd read a word on one page, flip the page, and not know the word or be able to sound it out again. He's constantly guessing. His name is spelled wrong a lot. (It's not that hard: J-U-D-A-H) Yeah, he's six, but just in case...

Sixth months into the school year and he didn't know, um, typical 'vowels'. A E I O U. That was my first official 'f that methodology' attitude. Up until then, I figured they were the professionals in the private school. I taught ESL to high schoolers. I'm a licensed Social Studies teacher. What do I know?

I didn't teach him all of the vowel rules. I just made sure he knew these letters were set apart. He knew his alphabet and the 'sounds' they make (usually, but it's common for him to mix up certain sounds at six).

But when we teach kids letters, we say, "J says juh" like "jar". No. I guess that's partially my fault, since every parent does that in pre-reading...but his teachers reinforced it.

"Jar" is not 'juh uh ar". It's jär. Teaching kinds to blend like that is silly imho. Or maybe it just isn't his way of learning. Whatever. It would take him 10 seconds to sound out jar and another 10 to figure out what the hell he just said.

Judah is good with math. He knows that 5 can be 2+3 or 1/2 of 10. It can be five years of age, five minutes, five cookies. Five is less than six and greater than two. Zero is a number and it's not a number. 50 is fifty, not five plus zero. Five sets of ten make fifty. He likes to build things, take them apart, and wonder why the planets don't fall down. Judah was so desperate to learn how to read, but couldn't figure out the 'code'..

So I decided to teach him at home doing it 'my way'. He improved a little. Then I decided to throw in reading Hebrew. Every day, weekends and holidays included, he has two reading lessons. They do the Hebrew letters and sounds in school but no vowels or reading yet. I figured since I had the materials and I believe in bilingual ed, why not? Biblical Hebrew (or what we know as the most modern Biblical Hebrew - the stuff at synagogue) has vowel characters. Some extra rules, sure, but not like English. Sounds are the sounds. Anything that deviates (shin vs sin) is notated. Its phonetic.

So if he sees שׁ, he knows it's "Shin" or "Shin Dot". The dot on the right indicates the "sh" sound. The dot on the left, שׂ, is the "s" sound like 'set'. If he sees שַׁ, then he sees "Shin Dot+Patah" [the 'vowel' like 'a' in father], and automatically says "sha". That's it. Not sh...ah...oh, it's sha! Just sha.

Sin Dot is not 'suh' or 'ess'. It's [s]. At first, he would say "ssss" or "suh". I corrected him. A lot. Then he got it.

s = שׂ
sh = שׁ
sha =שַׁ


If I wrote, "Shabbat" in English, he'd probably say, "suh...huh -- no, wait, sh - ...ah...greedy b, buh...ah...tuh." And then he'd try to guess the word. Estimated time it takes for him to figure out the word: 30 seconds.

When he sounds out Biblical Hebrew, he does it in syllables. (Makes sense if vowels are usually under the character). Sha+ba-t. שַׁבָּת On day 3 of Hebrew reading, mastered that one in seven seconds (he's asking to be timed) and he's been exposed to the English alphabet since birth. He started to learn his Hebrew letters this year and they only do the one character every week thing...hmmm...they may not even be to the end yet.

When he sees an end sound, like final mem or a tav, he know knows it's not 'muh' or 'tuh'. Final sound, kiddo, no vowel, no uh-ing about it.

After two nights of reading Hebrew (he had been working with four vowels and six characters), he figured out that consonants don't say their names in English, either!

and jar is not juh ah arr!



It's not like instant A+ in his reading, but it's an instant improvement. I understand that handing kids learn letters and expecting them to blend like juh ah ar is not efficient. Words shouldn't be a mystery.

But I don't think that ABCs+sounds letters make+sounds consonants make with vowels +"phonics rules" (like 'igh' or 'oo' or 'th' and 'th') + the silent e rule is a bad place to start.

I'm not going to tell Judah that 'w' is a vowel. He's not a linguist. I can tell him about ow and ew and aw, though.

I think the letter-writer to Cecil was confused because he didn't understand what a vowel's purpose was. So Cecil could've explained it a little better...I still hate the 'sometimes y and w' crap. W is the one I hate. Some schools do it -- but if that, why stop there? :/
#50
Old 04-29-2011, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Skald the Rhymer View Post
You're not alone in that. The sound of "eye", identical to the "long i" sound, begins with the articulation of a as in man and ends with the articulation of i as in mint. Many persons pronounce the first person singular pronoun as an entirely different vowel. But "standard" American pronunciation (read: what you'll see in dictionaries like Merriam-Webster & American Heritage) has I prnounced as the long I.
Eye =\ˈī\
I = \ˈī, ə\

Well, I am a pie-rat...from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

There's academic knowledge and there's general knowledge. General is = A E I O U and sometimes Y.

Academic is what we've been talking about (or mixing) in the thread. So I think it's perfectly acceptable to say A E I O U are vowels and W is a consonant.

I also think it's OK to say that this is a democratic nation or a democracy when we're...erm...a constitutional republic with a representative democracy. I think the official term Colorado had us teach was "Constitutional Democratic Republic".
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