Learn IPA For Improving English Pronunciation & Accent

A Consonants Pronunciation A Vowels Pronunciation Consonants Pronunciation Diphthongs Pronunciation English Grammar English Speaking English Vocabulary Public Speaking Vowels Pronunciation

American English Pronunciation

 

  1. Why IPA is important for any language?

 

In this American English Pronunciation article, we’re going to go over why we need the IPA?

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) was created by the International Phonetic Association as a standardized way to write the sounds of spoken language.

Why do we need this?

Because English is not a phonetic language— that means there’s not a 1 to 1 relationship between letters and sounds.

For example, these words: Love, cove, move.

They look the same except for the first letter. They look like they should be pronounced the same except for the first sound. But that’s not the case.

  • ‘Love’ has the ‘ʌ=UH’ as in the BUTTER vowel.
  • ‘Cove’ has the ‘oʊ=OH’ diphthong, and
  • ‘Move’ has the ‘u=OO’ vowel.

 

ʌ=Uh, oʊ=oh, u=oo. Love, cove, move.

There are no rules to tell you which word should be pronounced which way, you just have to know. You just have to learn the pronunciation when you learn the word.

Let’s go a little further.  What about this word- ‘dove?

It looks like the other three words, and its pronunciation is ‘dʌv=dove’,

[just like ‘love’?. Wait, no.]

Its pronunciation is ‘dove=doʊv’, just like ‘cove’.

Actually, both pronunciations are right.

For the noun, the bird, it’s ‘dove’.  ʌ=UH.

But for the verb- dove, [past tense of ‘dive’], it’s pronounced ‘dove=doʊv’.

So again, we need IPA to write these different sounds so we can see that words are spelled the same, may still be pronounced differently. This is called a heteronym.

One more confusing point:  homophones. Words that are spelled differently, but pronounced the same.

For example- pear & pair

Just one pronunciation for these two words:

Pear = pɛər,   Pair = pɛər.  (Same Pronunciation)

There are lots of homophones in American English. So we need the IPA to see. They’re spelled differently, but they’re pronounced the same.  When you write a sound, in IPA, with a symbol instead of a letter, there’s no confusion.

 

  1. What is IPA?

 

IPA stands for International Phonetic Alphabet.

It’s a system of phonetic notation; 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 article section.

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.

 

  1. Consonants Sounds (IPA Pronunciation)

 

(Also Read Consonant in IPA likePronunciation Of Consonants )

Why IPA is important for consonants or vowels?

Let’s take a look at the letter T.

  • It can be silent, like in the word ‘Fasten’.
  • It can be pronounced CH, ch, as in the word ‘future’.
  • It can be pronounced tt like in the word ‘tap’.
  • When paired with the H, it can be th, the unvoiced TH, as in the word ‘thanks’.
  • Or it can be th, the voiced TH, as in the word ‘this’.

 

The letter T can actually represent various sounds. This is why the International Phonetic Alphabet makes (IPA) easier to study the pronunciation of foreign languages. This article focuses on consonants.

As a student of pronunciation, it’s important that you become familiar with the symbols that represent the sounds of American English.

  • [d]= D, say that, d,d. This sound is in the dime, redo, smiled. 
  • [t]= T, say that, t,t. This sound is in washed, untie, tip. 
  • [v]= This sound is in value, of, love.
  • [f]= This sound is in staff, enough, phone.
  • [b]= b, b. This sound is in big, sob, abandon.
  • [p]= P, p. This sound is in pan, ship, reapply.
  • [g]= G, g. This sound is gap, exhibit, fog.
  • [k]= K, k. This sound is in choir, quiet, back.
  • [θ]= Th, th. This sound is in thanks, filthy, with.
  • [ð]= Th, th. This sound is in bother, this, bathe.
  • [s]= S, s.  This sound is in ice, some, ax.
  • [z]= Z, z. This sound is in lazy, flowers, possess.
  • [ʃ]=    Sh, sh. This sound is in polish, ocean, issue.
  • [ʒ]= Zh, zh. This sound is in beige, vision, azure.
  • [ ʧ]= Ch, ch. This sound is in chase, march, chapter.
  • [dʒ]= Jj, jj. This sound is in joy, grudge, change.
  • [h]= Hh, hh. This sound is in happy, rehash, hi.
  • [ɹ]= R, r. This sound is in wrong, operate, ear.
  • [j]= Y, yy. This sound is in yummy, yes. And it often occurs in the EW as in Few Diphthongs in words like music.
  • [m]= Mm, mm. This sound occurs in words like my, mumble, some.  
  • [n]= N, n. This sound occurs in the words nine, no, undo.
  • [ŋ]= Ng, ng. This sound occurs in the words ring, thanks, anger.
  • [l]= L, L. This sound occurs in the words follow, lie, feel.
  • [w]= W, w. This sound occurs in the word quiet, will, one.

 

Great, familiarizing yourself with these symbols should make it easier to study pronunciation.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this section of the article.

 

 

  1. Vowels (American English)

 

(Also Read Vowel in IPA likePronunciation Of Vowel “ɜ“)

Take a look at these letters- ‘oo’. They’re not always pronounced the same.

  • In the word ‘boo=bu’, they have the ‘oo=u’ sound.
  • In the word ‘blood=blʌd’, they make the ‘uh=ʌ’ as in the ‘butter’ sound.
  • And in the word ‘book=bʊk’, they make the ‘uh=ʊ’ as in the ‘pull’ sound.

 

This is why the International Phonetic Alphabet makes it easier to study the pronunciation of a foreign language. This article focuses on vowels.

  • [a] The ‘ah’ sound. Say that, ah. Ah.

                   This sound occurs in words like father, hot, body.

  • [ɔ] Aw, say that with me, aw.

                   This sound occurs in words like law, daughter, caught.

  • [ɛ] Eh, eh. This sound occurs in the words said, head, says.
  • [i] EE, ee. This sound occurs in the words heat, be, receive.
  • [ɪ] Ih, ih. This sound occurs in the words him, been, women.
  • [æ] Aa, aa. This sound occurs in the words have, bad, act.
  • [ʌ] Uh, uh. This sound occurs in the words love, blood, trouble.
  • [ə] Uh, uh. The schwa. This sound occurs in the words sofa, about.
  • [ʊ] Uh, uh. This sound occurs in the words- book, could pull.
  • [ɜ] Ur, ur (like- or), This sound occurs in the words burn, journey, worth.
  • [u] Oo, oo. This vowel sound occurs in the words through, blue, do.

Familiarizing yourself with these symbols should make it easier to study pronunciation.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this section of the article.

 

 

  1. Diphthongs (American English)

 

(Also Read Diphthong in IPA likePronunciation Of Diphthong “ɔɪ“)

 

Take a look at these letters. They’re not always pronounced the same.

For example the word ‘height’: Here there are the ‘ai=aɪ’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong.

But in this word, weigh, they make the ‘eɪ=ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong sound.

This is why the International Phonetic Alphabet does make it easier to study pronunciation.

This particular article focuses on diphthongs.

Diphthongs:-

  • [aʊ]= aw, say that- aw. This sound occurs in the words town, round, bow.
  • [oʊ]= ou, Say that, ou. This sound occurs in the words though, no, show.
  • [ɔɪ]= Oy, oy. This sound occurs in the words toy, moist, joy.
  • [aɪ]= Ai, ai (like- i), This diphthong sound occurs in the words my, height, buy.
  • [eɪ]= Ay, ay (like- ae), This sound occurs in the words fade, maid, gauge.
  • [ju]= Yu, yu (like- u), this sound occurs in the word beauty, union, feud.

 

Familiarizing yourself with these symbols should make it easier to study pronunciation.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this section of the article.

 

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