/p/ for pen
- Regularly spelt with p o pp and but not in the word hiccough /’hikʌp/
- Sometimes p is in the spelling of the word but it is not pronounced like in psychology that sounds as if it were ‘s’ or cupboard were this letter is silent.
- Ph usually sounds like British /f/ like: elephant, philology, physics.
- Some words with this sound are: pen, cap, pupil, puppet.
- The transcription of these words are: /pen/ /kæp/ /pju:pə/ /pʌpɪl/
/b/ for boy
- Regularly spelt with b.
- The letters ‘b’ and ‘v’ are pronounced in the same way in Spanish. This does not happen in the English language as they have different sounds.
- Sometimes b is in the spelling but it does not sound like in the words climb and lamb.
- Some words with this sound are: boy, ball, about, rubber and problem.
- The transcription of these words are: /bɔɪ/ /bɔː:l/ /ə’baʊt/ /’rʌbə/ /’prɒbləm/
Click to listening activity
Diphthongs are formed by more than one vowel sounds put together. There are a lot of English words with diphthongs in them even if we can only see one vowel written in the words. Like many words in English, the best way to know how to pronounce the word is by hearing it or by looking up for the pronunciation in a dictionary with phonetic transcriptions.
- This sound is a diphthong, which means it has two vowel sounds /a/ and /I/.
- There are a lot of English words with diphthongs even if we can only see one vowel written in the word. Like many words in English, the best way to know how to pronounce the word is by hearing it or by looking up for the pronunciation in a dictionary with phonetic transcriptions.
- This sound is in the words: hi, high, lie, my, five, island and arrive
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /haɪ/ / haɪ/ /maɪ//’aɪlənd/ /faɪv/ /ə’raɪv/
/aʊ/ for mouse
- This diphthong usually corresponds to words written with – ow or ou.
- In English words the sound is in: house, mouse, mouth, and town
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /aʊ/ /haʊs/ /maʋs/ /maʊθ/ /taʊn/
I have a friend who works as a receptionist (as many people on this island do), who one day complained about one of the worst moments she constantly finds herself in at work.
‘I have a problem at work that I just can’t seem to get right’ she said. ‘I don’t know what I say wrong, but whenever I say it, I can see the guests grinning and trying not to laugh’. ‘Well what is it?’ I asked very intrigued about the whole thing. ‘Well, it’s basically when I tell them that they are going to have their sheets changed. The thing is, I can’t distinguish between sheets and shits. I know I’m going to get it wrong but I don’t know why.’ While my friend was explaining this, I must say that I was trying to look really understanding and concerned about her problem, but as a matter of fact, I was tempted to throw myself all over the place in absolute hysterics.
What was wrong? Well, in Spanish if you make a vowel sound longer than usual, you won’t change the meaning of the word. That means, if you say something like ‘la botella veeeeerde’ it will still be a green bottle and the only effect you’ll probably cause is that your interlocutor may think that you drank all the contents from ‘the green bottle’ and that’s probably why you’re articulating sounds in such a peculiar way. However, in English this is very different. In this language stretching vowels makes a whole difference in meaning. Thus my receptionist friend was giving the wrong information to the guests.
In this lesson, we’re going to see some of these ‘problematic’ vowel sounds.
/ɪ/ for ship
- This sound is a short ‘i’.
- In English words the sound is in: ship, chip and bitter.
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /ʃɪp/ /tʃɪp/ /’bɪtə/
/iː/ for sheep
- This sound is a long ‘i’.
- In English words the sound is in: sheep, cheap and beetle.
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /ʃi:p/ /tʃi:p/ /’bi:tl/
/i/ for happy
- This sound is a long ‘i’ but not as long as /i:/.
- In English words the sound is in and always at the end of these words: funny, honey and funky.
- The transcriptions of the words above are: /ˈfuni/ /ˈhʌni / /fʌnki /
Problems usually happen when a learner of the English language doesn’t pronounce some English words correctly. Words that are often confused are: sheep/ship, sheet/shit, beach/bitch, cheap/chip, leave/live, etc,. Which basically means making mistakes between long i /i:/ and short i /I/.
Here’s an activity that focuses on these different sounds.
Click to activity