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The Subsystems of BrE and AmE Vowels Compared

2.1 The inventory differences between BrE (BBC English or RP) and AmE (GA, Network English or SAE) vowels are relatively few. The most noticeable distinctions are in the articulation and distribution of vowel phonemes (The Penguin Dictionary of Language by D. Crystal defines the term ‘distribution’ as “the total set of linguistic contexts in which a unit can occur.”). Unlike BBC English vowels, their GA counterparts do not exhibit consistent correlations between their quantity (length) and quality (tenseness or laxness). Following V.A. Vassilyev (‘English Phonetics. A Theoretical Course’ (M., 1970, p.43-44), Professor D.A. Shakhbagova (‘Varieties of English Pronunciation’, (M., 1982. p.23) points out that AmE vowels are not divided into historically long [i: ɑ: ɔ: u: ɜ:] and historically short [ɪ,e, æ, ʌ, ɒ, ʊ, ə]. Likewise, the authors of Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary, 18th ed., (CEPD18th ed., 2011, P.VII, VIII) Peter Roach, Jane Setter and John Esling state that ‘British English’ (BBC pronunciation) is generally described as having short vowels, long vowels and diphthongs’. The vowel system of American English ‘is commonly described as having lax vowels, tense vowels, and wide diphthongs’1:


CEPD 18th ed. PDAE

∙ lax vowels: ɪ e æ ʌ ʊ ǝ ɪ ɛ æ ʌ ʊ ǝ Besides, [ɛ] is used for RP [eə ], as in there [ðɛr],

∙ tense vowels: i: ɑ: ɔ: ɜ: u: eɪ oʊ i ɑ ɔ ɜ u e o [ɪ] for RP [ɪǝ], as in here [hɪr] and [ʊ] for RP

∙ wide1 diphthongs: aʊ aɪ ɔɪ aʊ aɪ ɔɪ [ʊǝ], as in poor [pʊr]. Both PDAE and DAS

∙ retroflex vowels (“r-coloured”) ɚ ɝ transcribe GA take as tek and go as go

1. A diphthong whose initial and final elements differ little in height, such as [eɪ] or [oʊ], is termed ‘narrow’, a dipthong involving a large movement between its initial and final elements, is called ‘wide’.


Though the authors of CEPD admit that ‘in American English we do not find the difference between long and short vowels’ characteristic of BBC English, they thought it necessary to retain ‘the length mark on the tense vowels /i: ɑ: ɔ: u:/ and the retroflex vowel /ɝ:/ in order’, as they put it, ‘to mark their relationship to the English long vowels’. The majority of the US phoneticians, for example, John S. Kenyon and Thomas A. Knott, the authors of ‘A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English’, (PDAE, 1953) or Richard A. Spears in his ‘Dictionary of American Slang’ (DAE, 1989), reprinted in Russia in 1991, consider the length mark superfluous and do not use it. John S. Kenyon and Thomas A. Knott stress that, unlike Daniel Jones who “records the pronunciation of a limited and nearly homogeneous class of people”, their aim “has been to record without prejudice or preference several different types of speech used by large bodies of educated and cultivated Americans in widely separated areas”, and theirs “is a dictionary of colloquial English, of the everyday unconscious speech of cultivated people”. Here is an example which illustrates their approach: wash wɑʃ, wɔʃ, wɒʃor, in CEPD transcription, wɑ:ʃ, wɔ:ʃ, wɒʃ . Moreover, as we shall see below, the authors of PDAE provide regional variety labels along with regional pronunciation variants. Unlike PDAE, DAS by Richard A.Spears has been reprinted and is accessible to EFL students in Russia. Its Pronunciation Guide is yet another set of transcription symbols (adapted from International Phonetic Alphabet), which is perhaps closest to what GA actually sounds like.

However, Russian EFL students who specialize in English are mostly taught BrE and use CEPD. Besides, no authoritative 21st century equivalent of PDAE has been produced to date.

2.2 The front vowels [i, ɪ, e, æ] (CEPD uses the symbol [e] both for BrE and AmE; the authors of PDAE use [ɛ]) in BBC English and GA seem to occupy almost identical positions and exhibit no phonemic /fəʊˈni:mɪk/ differences. Yet there are the phonetic (articulatory) distinctions between them (‘phonemic differences cause a change in meaning, the term ‘phonetic’ refers to the physical sounds of speech’). It should also be borne in mind that CEPD uses the symbol [i:] for both BrE and AmE.

2.2.1 The phoneme [i] (represented as [i:] in CEPD) is a high front tense vowel. V.A. Vassilyev (O.C., p.47) states that the BBC or RP [i:] manifests itself as either a pure monophthong or a diphthongoid [ɪij] in a final position, as in ‘be’ /bɪij, bɪi/. Both V.A. Vassilyev (1970) and D.A. Shakhbagova (1982) maintained that RP or BBC English differs from GA in the pronunciation of the final unstressed (post-tonic) vowel of words like ‘heavy’ /ˈhevɪij, hevɪi, hevi/ or ‘city’ /ˈsɪti/. However, the ongoing process of convergence (i.e. change in which dialects or varieties become more like each other) has resulted in the elimination of this difference. Beginning with the 15th ed. of EPD (1997), the next two editions, the 16th (2003), the 17th (2006) and the 18th (2011) consistently cite [i] for both GA and BBC English.

It should be noted that the articulation of this sound in GA tends to become centralized and blurred when [i:] occurs next to [l], [r] or bilabial consonants, as in reel, wield, wheel.

2.2.2 The phoneme [ɪ] is a high front lax vowel (somewhat lower and less front than [i:] both in GA and RP). In GA [ɪ], like [i:], is centralized, blurred and sometimes labialized in the proximity of [l], [r] or bilabial consonants: beer, superior, bill, fill, building, miracle, spirit, river.

2.2.3 The GA phoneme [ɛ], represented as /e/ in CEPD, is a mid-open front lax monophthong. It is lower or more open than its BBC or RP counterpart [e]. Sometimes the GA [e], or, rather, [ɛ], as V.A. Vassilyev puts it, ‘almost coincides with [æ], as in center [ˈsɛn.t̬ɚ], centre [ˈsen.tǝr]. D.A. Shakhbagova points out that [ɛ], like the GA [ɪ], is a) frequently articulated with a similar retraction toward the central position, as in well, very and American b) diphthongized before [p], [t], [k]: bet [bɪǝt], get [gɛǝt].

2.2.4 The GA phoneme /æ/ is said by some Russian phoneticians to be more front and longer than its counterpart BBC [æ]. The CPED 18th ed. notes that the quality of BBC /æ/ ‘is more open than it used to be, and the symbol /a/ might be considered a suitable alternative’, ‘the GA /æ/ vowel is somewhat closer than BBC /æ/, and seems to be evolving into an even closer vowel’. The GA [æ]

is ‘somewhat closer than BBC [æ], and seems to be evolving into an even closer vowel in some speakers’. Its distribution differs considerably from that of BBC English. In GA the phoneme [æ]

occurs ‘in the same words as BBC [æ] and also in most of the words in which the letter ais followed by a consonant letter other than r’:

BBC English or RP GA

answer [ˈɑ:ns.ǝr] [ˈænsɚ]

aunt [ɑ:nt] [ænt]

dance [dɑ:ns] [dæns]

example [ɪgˈzɑ:mpl] [ɪgˈzæmpl]

half [hɑ:f] [hæf]

ask [ɑ:sk] [æsk]

last [lɑ:st] [læst]

The GA stressed vowel in father is an exception to the rule: [ˈfɑ:.ðɚ].

One of the consequences of the GA’s tendency toward a closer articulation of [æ] is that before

[r] plus a vowel, as in carry, marry, parrot [æ] may be replaced by [ɛ]. Yet this is not necessarily the case. PDAE transcribes these words as ˈkærɪ, ˈmærɪ, ˈpærət. CEPD 18th ed., in representing Network English pronunciation, places the [e]-variant first, and [æ]-variant second: marry /ˈmeri, ˈmæri/. Thus D.A. Shakhbagova’s statement that ‘the words marry and merry are perfect homophones in GA’ appears to be an oversimplification, due, perhaps, to the processes of convergence and divergence.

It should be noted that the GA [æ], besides being long and tense, is also nasalized before [d], [m], [n], as in bad [bǣd], man [mǣ̇̇̇̇n], land [lǣnd], answer [ˈǣnsɚ].

2.3 The number of central, or mixed, vowels in BBC English and GA is different. BBC English or RP has two central vowels [ɜ:] and [ə], whereas in GA they are four: [ɝ], [ɚ], [ʌ], [ɑ] and differ noticeably from their BBC counterparts in articulation and distribution.

2.3.1 The phoneme [ɝ] is a mixed tense vowel, but it differs from the BBC English [ɜ:] by its retroflexion. In other words, in the articulation of the AmE [ɝ] the tip of the tongue is curled back, as in words bird, fur. The [r]-colouring is produced by simultaneously raising the central portion of the tongue. The tip of the tongue does not touch the hard palate, and the position of the tongue does not change for articulating the vowel that follows [ɝ].

The GA [ɝ] differs from the BBC [ɜ:] not only by its articulation but also in its distribution: the words

hurry, current, furrow, surrey (Surrey), worry, borough are pronounced in GA as [ˈhɝ.i], [ˈkɝ.ənt], [ˈfɝ.oʊ], [ˈsɝ:i], [ˈwɝ.i] [ˈbɝ:.oʊ] . D.A. Shakhbagova included the word courage in this category. However, in the last twenty-five years the four CEPD editions, starting with the 15th, cite one pronunciation for both BBC English and GA: [ˈkʌr.ɪʤ] (On the other hand, in GA the verb ‘encourage’ is pronounced /enˈkɝ:ɪʤ/). The PDAE (1953) cited ˈkɝɪʤ;ES ˈkɜrɪʤ, ˈkʌr-, ˈkɝ-;where ES stands for Eastern and Southern (as opposed to the third regional variety named Western, Midwestern, Central Western or GA). There are three more word groups with similar variation patterns:

BBC English or RP GA

1) squirrel [ˈskwɪr.ǝl] [ˈskwɝǝl]

stirrup [ˈstɪr.ǝp] [ˈstɝ-, ˈstɪr-]

2) Berkeley surname [ˈbɑ:.kli] [bɜ:.kli, bɝ:-]

clerk [klɑ:k] [klɝ:k]

derby* [ˈdɑ:.bi] [ˈdɝ:-]

Derby* [ˈdɑ:.bi] [ˈdɑ:r-, ˈdɝ:-]

Note: American pronunciation uses ˈdɑ:- for British references.

* Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture, 2nd ed.: derbyn1AmE for BOWLER2 a man’s round hard hat, usually black, worn especially by men who work in the City of London. Bowler hats are not often worn now and are thought of as being old-fashioned, but they still appear in humorous drawings and advertisements which show the typical Englishman. 2especially AmE a race which any competitor can enter: a bicycle derby 3(in football and other sports) a match between two teams based in the same area: the Liverpool Derby (=between Liverpool and Everton)

Derby1 a city in Derbyshire. It is known for its industries, which include engineering and china.

Derby2, thea very important yearly horse race held at Epsom in England in May or June, on a day which is known as Derby Day.

Kentucky Derby, the/. ˌ..ˈ.. / a famous race for three-year-old horses held each year on the first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

The noun ‘sergeant’ (S) is an exception to the rule: /ˈsɑ:.ʤənt‖ˈsɑ:r-/.

2.3.2 The GA phoneme [ɚ] is also a retroflex central or mixed lax vowel which is a variant of the phoneme [ǝ] and occurs in unstressed syllables: winter, doctor, perceiver. In GA it is pronounced with [r]-colouring. It should be borne in mind that [ɚ] also occurs in positions where there is no rin spelling.

2.3.3 The RP phoneme [ʌ] used to be defined as a back-advanced mid-open vowel of broad variation. CEPD, 18th ed. defines it now as central(a synonymous term is mixed– N.E.). Its counterpart GA [ʌ] is likewise a central mid-open vowel of narrow variation. Most US phoneticians now (unlike the authors of PDAE) transcribe [ʌ] as [ǝ] in stressed syllables, e.g. DAS transcribes cup as [kǝp]. This may reduce the number of central or mixed vowels in GA to three.

2.3.4 The RP [ɑ:] (CEPD requires the two dots on the right marking the vowel length, although most US phoneticians deny length as a distinctive feature in GA vowels - N.E.) is a back vowel but its GA counterpart is a central vowel. In height both of them are low (of broad variation). The GA [ɑ:] occurs in the positions in which the BBC English speakers pronounce [ɒ]:

BBC English or RP GA or SAE


not [nɒt] [nɑ:t]

off [ɒf] [ɑ:f]

crop [krɒp] [krɑ:p]

nod [nɒd] [nɑ:d]

gone [gɒn] [gɑ:n]

object [ˈɒb.ʤɪkt] [ˈɑ:b.ʤɪkt]


On the other hand, the GA [ɑ:] also occurs in positions in which BBC or RP has [ɑ:], as in father, palm, calm etc. Some American phoneticians (e.g. B. Bloch and G. Trager) maintain that there are long and short variants of [ɑ] in GA, which differ both in quality (tenseness or laxness) and quantity (length). Others hold that these two phonemes are differentiated only in a limited number of words like bomb [bɑm] and balm [bɑ:m].

Whatever the controversy over the articulatory distinctions may be, the GA [ɑ:] has a different distribution and is used in the following phonetic environments:

a) in words in which any of the stop consonants are preceded by o: hop, rob, god, got, lock.

b) when o is followed by a sonorant or l: on, gone, doll, solve.

c) when ooccurs before velar consonant [ŋ] and the stop [g], [ɑ:] interchanges with [ɔ:]:

log [lɑ:g, lɔ:g], frog [frɑ:g, frɔ:g], long [lɑ:ŋ, lɔ:ŋ], honk [hɑ:ŋk, hɔ:ŋk]

2.3.5 It should be borne in mind that a natural language is a multi-level phenomenon. This means that in a natural language, such as English or Russian, vowels and consonants are normally joined into syllables, thus forming the next major language level. A mere glance at BrE and AmE oppositions in disyllabic words (i.e. words consisting of two syllables) shows that the difference in pronunciation is inseparable from the difference in syllable formation and syllable division: common /ˈkɒm.ən‖ˈkɑ:.mən/; knowledge /ˈnɒl.ɪʤ‖ˈnɑ:.lɪʤ/.

In BrE the syllable division occurs after the sonorant /m/ whereas in AmE the division is effected before the sonorant (which is the case in similar Russian phonetic environments).

2.3.6 CPDE 18th ed. states that ‘there is no [ɒ] vowel in GA’. In other words, this phoneme is absent from the inventory of GA vowels, although it might occur in other American English varieties.

2.4 In contrast to five* BBC English back vowels [ɒ, ɔ:, ɑ:, ʊ, u:], there are only three phonemes of this type in GA: [ɔ:, ʊ, u]. * British English used to have six back vowels: the symbol [ʌ] ‘was chosen for this reason’. At present the corresponding sound ‘is no longer a back vowel, but a central one’ (CEPD, 17th ed.).

2.4.1 The GA [ɔ:] is intermediate in quality between the BBC English [ɔ:] and [ɒ]. In the articulation of the GA [ɔ] the lips are less rounded than in producing the BBC English [ɔ:]. The BBC English [ɔ:] may

correspond to the GA [ɑ:]: auto /ˈɔ:.təʊ‖ˈɑ:.t̬oʊ, ˈɔ:-/

Depending on its phonological environment the GA [ɔ:] varies considerably from mid-open to low or open. According to CEPD 18th ed., in words like law, caught [ɔ:] interchanges with [ɑ:]. But this is not the case with words like loss /lɒs‖lɑ:s/, off /ɒf‖ɑ:f/, soft /sɒft‖sɑ:ft/, sorry /ˈsɒr.i‖ˈsɑ:r.i/ or horror ‖ˈhɒr.ər‖ˈhɔ:r.ɚ/ orange /ˈɒr.ɪnʤ‖ˈɔ:r.inʤ/.

2.4.2 GA phoneme [ʊ] is like its BBC English counterpart but has less lip-rounding.

2.4.3 GA phoneme [u:] ‘is similar to BBC [u:], though slightly more back’, and ‘is also used where BBC has /ju:/ after alveolar consonants (see 3.6).

2.5 Another contentious issue is GA diphthongsandtheir number. J.S. Kenyon and T.A, Knott, like most US phoneticians, hold that there are three diphthongs in GA (compared to eight in RP):


BBC English GA (PDAE & CEPD)

buy /baɪ/ /b/

boy /bɔɪ/ /bɔɪ/

break /breɪk/ /brek/

hope /həʊp/ /hop/

down /daʊn/ /dn/

year /jɪər/ /jɪr/

air /eər/ /er/

poor /pʊər/ /pʊr/

The authors of CEPD, 18th ed. and A. Shakhbagova (VEP) distinguish five of them, i.e. they treat GA tense vowels [e] and [o] as diphthongs (whereas CEPD admits that it represents them as [eɪ], [oʊ] “to mark their relationship to the English long vowels”, and not because they are actually regarded as diphthongs). Postulating theoretically the existence of the diphthong [eɪ] in GA, D.A. Shakhbagova actually admits that there is only “a diphthongal variant” of the sound, which occurs “when the vowel is lengthened in word final position, as in holiday [ˈhɑ:.lə.deɪ], birthday [ˈbɝ:θdeɪ], or before voiced consonants, as in game [geɪm], grade [greɪd]”. The stressed vowel in gate and date is necessarily treated by D.A. Shakhbagova as a “monophthongal variant” (O.C., p.27), which is also found in unstressed syllables: vacation [veˈkeɪ.ʃn], chaotic [keˈɑ.t̬ɪk]. At the end of her analysis D.A. Shakhbagova conceded that the GA [eɪ] is transcribed as [e] in AmE pronouncing dictionaries and textbooks desribing GA phonemes. The treatment of the GA tense vowel [o] as a diphthong by D.A. Shakbagova is again a matter of theory since the illustrative examples in her book deal with “ a monophthongal” [o] a) in unstressed syllables: radio [ˈreɪdɪo] and b) before voiceless consonants: boat [bot], coat [kot]. A possible solution to the problem could be the treatment of the GA tense vowels [e] and [o] as diphthongoids.

2.5.1 The articulation of the GA and BBC English diphthongs [aɪ], [ɔɪ] is practically identical.

2.5.2 The GA diphthong [aʊ] is realized in the two variants [ɑʊ] and [aʊ], the latter being more frequent. DAS represents it as [ɑʊ]. In BBC English or RP the reverse is said to be the case, though CEPD transcribes it as [aʊ]*. (*In the International Phonetic Alphabet based on the system of Cardinal Vowels devised by D. Jones, the symbol [a] represents a front low-broad vowel and [ɑ] stands for a back low-broad one).

Here are some BrE and AmE vocalic oppositions:

[ i:‖e] amenity [usually pl ] /əˈmi:.nə.ti, -ˈmen.ə- ‖ əˈmen.ə.t̬i/; anaesthetist /ǝˈni:s.θǝ.tɪst, ænˈi:s-‖ ǝˈnes.θǝ.t̬ɪst/; anaesthetize, -ise /əˈni:s.θə.taɪz, ænˈi:s-, -θɪ-‖əˈnes-/; egret /ˈi:.grət, -grɪt, -gret‖ˈi:.gret, ˈeg.ret, -rɪt/; epoch /ˈi:.pɒk, ˈep.ək‖ˈep.ək, -ɑ:k, i:ˈpɑ:k/; evolution /ˌi:.vəˈlu:.ʃən, ˌevə- ‖ ˌɛvəˈlu.ʃən, ˌi.və-/; febrile /ˈfi:.braɪl ‖ -brɪl, ˈfɛb.rɪl/; lever /ˈli:.vǝr ‖ lev.ɚ, ˈliv.ɚ/; methane /ˈmi:.θeɪn‖ˈmeθ.eɪn/; predecessor /ˈpri:.dɪˌses.ər, ˌpri:.dɪˈses- ‖ ˈprɛd.ə.sɛs.ɚ, ˈpri:.də/; sememe /ˈsi:.mi:m ‖ ˈsem.i:m/; bicentenary /ˌbaɪ.senˈti:.nər.i, -ten.ər- ‖ baɪˈsɛn.tən.ɛr.i, ˌbaɪ.sɛn ˈtɛn.ər-/. Some words of Greek origin, especially proper names, belong to this pattern: aesthete /ˈi:s.θi:t ‖ ˈes-/; Aeschylus /ˈi:.skɪ.ləs ‖ˈes.kə-, ˈi:.skə/; Daedalus /ˈdi:.dəl.əs ‖ ˈded.əl-/; Oedipus /ˈi:.dɪ.pəs ‖ ˈed.ɪ-, ˈi.dɪ/; oestrogen /ˈi:.strəʊən, ˈes.trəʊ- ‖ ˈes.trə-, -ʤen/.

[i:‖ɪ]been /bi:n, bɪn‖ bɪn/ CEPD 18th ed.: In BrE the pronunciation / bɪn/ may be used optionally as a weak form crresponding to /bi:n/, e.g. “Jane’s been invited” /ˈʤeɪnz.bɪn.inˌvaɪ.tɪd/. In AmE /bi:n/ does not usually occur.

[i:()‖aɪ]:geyser /ˈgi:.zər, ˈgaɪ ‖ ˈgaɪ.zɚ/; migraine /ˈmi:.greɪn, ˈmaɪ-, ˈmɪg.reɪn‖ˈmaɪ.greɪn/. We can see here clear signs of convergence in action.

[ɪ‖aɪ]:idyll /ˈɪd.əl, ˈaɪ.dəl, -dɪl‖ ˈaɪ.dəl/; privacy /ˈprɪv.ə.si, ˈpraɪ.və- ‖ ˈpraɪ.və-/; short-lived /ʃɔ:tˈlɪvd ‖ˈʃɔ:rtlaɪvd, -lɪvd/; simultaneous /ˌsɪm.əlˈteɪ.ni.əs, ˌsaɪ.məl- ‖ˌsaɪ.məlˈteɪ.ˈnjəs, ˌsɪm.əl-/; tricolo(u)r /ˈtrɪk.əl.ər; ˈtraɪ.ˌkʌl.ər ‖ ˈtraɪ.ˌkʌl.ɚ/ vitamin/ˈvɪt.ə.mɪn, ˈvaɪ- ‖ ˈvaɪ.t̬ə-/. There are cases that contain both the previous and the present opposition: quinine /ˈkwɪn.i:n, ­ˈ­; kwə- ‖ ˈkwaɪ.naɪn /.

[e‖i:,e]: depot /ˈdep.əʊ‖ ˈdi:.poʊ, ˈdep.oʊ/; equine /ˈekwaɪn ‖ ˈi:kwaɪn/; leisure /ˈleʒ.ər ‖ ˈli.ʒɚ, ˈleʒ.ɚ/;

cretin /ˈkret.ɪn‖ˈkri:.tən/.

[e‖ɪ,e]: inherent /ɪnˈher.ənt, -ˈhɪə.ənt‖-ˈhɪr.ənt, -ˈher-/;

[eɪ‖i:]:Bolognese /ˌbɒl.ə.ˈneɪz‖ˌboʊ.lə.ˈni:z/; obeisance /əʊˈbeɪ.səns‖oʊˈbi:-/

[æ‖e]carriage /ˈkær.ɪʤ‖ˈker-, ˈkær-/; marriage /ˈmær.ɪʤ‖ˈmer-, ˈmær-/. Cf. the Latin phrase (de facto and) de jure /deɪˈʤʊə.reɪ, di-, di:-, -ri‖di:ˈʤʊr.i, deɪ-/.

[æ‖eɪ, æ]satyr /ˈsæt.ər‖ˈseɪ.t̬ɚ, sæt̬.ɚ/; glacier ˈglæs.i.ər, ˈgleɪ.si-‖ˈgleɪ.ʃɚ/.

[æ‖ɑ:]pasta /ˈpæs.tə, ˈpɑ:.stə‖ˈpɑ:.stə/; Vivaldi /vɪˈvæl.di‖ -ˈvɑ:l-/.

[ɜ:r‖ɝ:,er]:err /ɜ:r‖ɝ:, er/;

[eɪ‖æ]: apparatus /ˌæp.ǝrˈeɪ.tǝs, -ˈæt.ǝs ‖ -ǝˈræt̬.ǝs/; status /ˈsteɪ.tǝs ‖ ˈstæ.t̬ǝs/; apricot /ˈeɪ.prɪ.kɒt ‖ -kɑ:t, ˈæp.rɪ-/;

[aɪ(i:)‖i:()]:either /ˈaɪ.ðər, ˈi:- ‖ ˈi.ðɚ, ˈaɪ-/; neither /ˈnaɪ.ðər, ˈni-‖ˈni.ðɚ, ˈnaɪ/.

[aɪ, ɪ‖ɪ, aɪ]:turbine /ˈtɜ:.baɪn, -bɪn‖tɝ.bɪn, -baɪn/;

[ɪǝ‖ɪr-, er-]: era /ˈɪǝ.rǝ‖ ˈɪr.ǝ, ˈerǝ/; here /hɪər‖hɪr/; beer /bɪər‖bɪr/

[ɪǝ,i:‖i:, i:ǝ]:real /rɪǝl ‖ ri:l, ri:.ǝl/, theatre, theater /ˈθɪǝ.tǝr, θi:.ǝ-; θɪˈet.ǝr‖θi:.ə.t̬ɚ/; theoretic(al) /θɪəˈret.ɪk(əl), ˌθi:.əˈ-‖ˌθi:.əˈret̬-

theory /ˈθɪə.ri, ˈθi:.ə-‖ˈθi:.ə-, ˈθɪr.i/;

[əʊ,ɒ‖ɑ:]docile /ˈdəʊ.saɪl, ˈdɒs.aɪl‖ˈdɑ:.səl, -saɪl/.

[ɑ:,‖eɪ,æ, ɑ:]charade /ʃəˈrɑ:d‖-ˈreɪd/; gala special occasion /ˈgɑ:.lə, ˈgeɪ-‖ ˈgeɪ-, gæl.ə, ˈgɑ:.lə/; stratum /ˈstrɑ:.təm, ˈstreɪ-/ ‖ˈstreɪ.t̬əm, ˈstræt̬.əm/; vase /vɑ:z‖veɪs/;

ɒ‖oʊ]:Barbados /bɑ:ˈbeɪ.dɒs, -dəs‖bɑ:rˈbeɪ.doʊs/;baroque /bəˈrɒk, bærˈɒk/‖bəˈroʊk/; Isolda(e) (Ysolde) /ɪˈzɒl.də‖-ˈsoʊl-, -zoʊl; -soʊld; -zoʊld/;protégé(e) /ˈprɒt.ɪ.ʒeɪ, ˈprəʊ.tɪ-, -teʒ.eɪ, -teɪ.ʒeɪ ‖ ˈproʊ.t̬ə.ʒeɪ/; shone /ʃɒn ‖ ʃoʊn/; yogh(u)rt, yogurt /ˈjɒg.ət, ˈjəʊ.gət, -gɜ:t‖joʊ.gɚt/.

[u:‖ oʊ]:catacomb /ˈkæt.ə.ku:m, -kəʊm‖ ˈkæt̬.ə.koʊm/;

[u:‖ ʌ]:brusque /bru:sk, brʊsk, brʌsk‖ brʌsk/

[ʊə ‖ u:]: casual /ˈkæʒ.ju.əl, -zju-‖ˈkæʒ.u:l/;

[ʌ, ɒ‖ ɑ:, ʌ]: accomplish /əˈkʌm.pǀɪʃ, -ˈkɒm- ‖ -ˈkɑ:m-,ˈkʌm-/;

[ʌ‖ɝ]:borough /ˈbʌr.ə‖bɝ:.oʊ/. See also 3.2.1

[ɒ, ɔ:‖æ, ɑ:]wrath /rɒθ, rɔ:θ ‖ ræθ, rɑ:θ/;

[ɪ‖e](in pre-tonic syllables): employ /ɪmˈplɔɪ‖em-, ɪm-/; emloyee /ɪmˈplɔɪ.i:, em-, əm; ˌem.plɔɪˈi:‖ emˈplɔɪ.i:. ɪm- (+employer, employment)

[ə‖e, æ, əʊ]: (in post-tonic syllables): See ‘borough’ above; abhore /əˈbɔ: ‖æbˈhɔ:, əb-/; accent [ˈæksənt ‖ ˈæksent] ; Canberra /ˈkæn.bər.ə, kæm-/‖ˈkæn.ber-/; gooseberry /ˈgʊz.bər.i, ˈgu:z-‖ˈgu:sˌber.i/; rosemary, R~ /ˈrəʊz.mər.i‖ˈroʊz.mer-/.

Other differences are: foyer /ˈfɔɪ.eɪ, ˈfwɑ:.eɪ‖ˈfɔɪ.ɚ, -eɪ; fɔɪˈeɪ, ˈfwɑ:ˈ-; impasse /ˈæm.pɑ:s, ˈɪm-, -ˈpæs ‖ ˈɪm.pæs/; liqueur /lɪˈkjʊər, -ˈkjɔ:r, -ˈkjɜ:r ∥ lɪˈkɝ:, -ˈkʊr, -ˈkjʊr/; advertisement, -ize- /ǝdˈvɜ:.tɪs.mǝnt, -tɪz- ‖ ˌæd.vɚˈtaɪz.mǝnt; ǝdˈvɝ.t̬ǝs, -tǝz-/.

The verb ‘staunch’ (OALD 8th ed.: ‘to stop the flow of sth, esp. blood’) is a special case of phonetic and morphological-orthographic variation: staunch /stɔ:nʧ ‖stɔ:nʧ, stɑ:nʧ/, but also stanch /stɑ:nʧ‖ stɑ:nʧ, stɔ:nʧ/.

Let us compare the systems of BrE and GA vowels as described in CEPD 18th ed. and other authoritative sources like Longman Pronunciation Dictionary 3rd ed., 2008 and PDAE:

BBC English or RP General American or Network English

∙ Short vowels: ∙ lax vowels:

pit pet pat putt pot put another

ɪ e æ* ʌ ɒ ʊ ə ə ∙ ɪ ɛ æ ʌ ʊ ə + retroflexed (“r-coloured”) ɚ

∙ Long vowels: ∙ tense vowels: i ɑ ɔ ɜ u e o

bean barn born boon burn ∙ retroflexed vowels (“r-coloured”) ɝ

i: ɑ: ɔ: u: ɜ:

∙ Diphthongs: ∙ wide diphthongs:

bay buyboy nonow peerpairpoorbuyboynow

eɪ aɪ ɔɪ əʊ aʊ ɪə eə ʊə aɪ ɔɪ aʊ


Questions and tasks


1. Look up the vocabulary items used in the lecture.


2. Are there many inventory differences between BrE and AmE vowels?


3. Do vowel quantity (length) and quality (tenseness or laxness) in GA correlate as closely as in

BBC English?


  1. Does the term “diphthong” refer to a vowel sound? Is the description of AmE as having “lax

vowels, tense vowels, and wide diphthongs” quite unambiguous then?


  1. What change took place in the articulation of the final unstressed BBC English vowel [i:] in the

last few decades?


6. How is the GA [i:] pronounced when it occurs next to [l], [r] or bilabial consonants?


7. Does the phoneme [ɪ] differ from [i:] only in quality?


8. What happens to [ɪ] in the proximity of [l], [r] or bilabial consonants?


  1. Why do PDAE (A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English) and DAS (Dictionary of

American Slang) represent the GA counterpart of the BBC English phoneme [e] as [ɛ]?


10. What is the difference between the articulation and distribution of GA and BBC English

variants of the phoneme [æ]?

11. What is the consequence of GA’s tendency towards a closer articulation of [æ]?


12. How many central or mixed vowels are there in BrE and AmE?


13. What are the articulatory and distributional characteristics of GA [ɝ] phoneme?


14. In what kind of syllables does GA [ɚ] occur?


15. Is the phoneme [ʌ] a back-advanced vowel?


16. What about the status of the phoneme [ʌ] in Network English?


17. Why is GA phoneme [ɑ:] said to be “controversial”?


18. Does GA’s phoneme [ɑ:] have the same distribution as its BBC English counterpart?


19. Why is the number of back vowels in GA reduced to three?


20. In what respect does the GA [ɔ:] vary considerably?


20. Does the inventory of Network English include the diphthongs [eɪ], [əʊ], [ɪə], [eə] and [ʊə]?



Date: 2016-04-22; view: 1256

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