Monday, January 31, 2011

U.S. English Pronunciation Lesson 20: the dipthongs /aI/, /au/, and /oI/

U.S. English Pronunciation
Lesson 20: the dipthongs /aI/, /au/, and /oI/

The dipthong /aI/ is often represented by the letter 'i'. The sound /au/ is frequently represented by the combination 'ou' or 'ow', while /oI/ often appears as 'oi' or 'oy'.

Keep in mind as you learn English pronunciation that English spelling is rather unpredictable with a multitude of exceptions and variations. The rules sometimes seem to lack a predictable pattern. Fortunately there are only a limited number of 'phonemes', or sounds. That's why these pronunciation lessons focus on the phonemes and try to give only non-exceptional spelling examples. This should make it easier for you to master the individual sounds as you progress and start to encounter variations and exceptions. Individual phonemes are represented by their International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbol between forward slashes: / /. To further simplify things, we will only cover vowel pronunciation in standard U.S. English. We will not cover the multitude of variations that exist in the different U.S. regions or in different countries.



/aI/

The sound /aI/, like other dipthongs, is a combination of vowel sounds pronounced together as one syllable. /aI/ is a combination of the vowels /æ/ and /I/. Play the sound recording below to get a better idea of its pronunciation.

Practice repeating this sound a few times. Then, practice the following words containing the /aI/ sound:

wide
hide
height ['gh' is silent in this word]
time
fight ['gh' is silent in this word]
light ['gh' is silent in this word]
wine
bike



/au/

The dipthong /au/ is combination of the vowels /æ/ and /u/. Play the sound recording below to get a better idea of its pronunciation.

Practice repeating this sound a few times. Then, practice the following words containing the /au/ sound:

now
how
loud
sound
proud
found
trout
clown



/oI/

The dipthong /oI/ is combination of the vowels /o/ and /I/. Play the sound recording below to get a better idea of its pronunciation.

Practice repeating this sound a few times. Then, practice the following words containing the /oI/ sound:

boy
toy
noise
poise
hoist
void
foil
spoil





The goal of this course is to help you learn English pronunciation in simple, easy-to-understand terms, while at the same time giving you enough familiarity with technical linguistic concepts to move on to other, more advanced topics. Try reviewing the previous pronunciation lessons (see links to the right).

Next lesson coming soon...


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