Talk:Vowel/Archive 1

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formants

Great page!

but - needs some information on the frequency structure of vowels, formant frequencies etc. Emmjade 13:03 29 Jun 2003 (UTC)

I second the motion. Info about vowel formants needed. - Ish ishwar 01:52, 2005 Jan 28 (UTC)

latin

Latin had five vowels? Sorry, but no. Even if you ignore the length distinction (or the tense/lax distinction, however you want to interpret it), Latin still had a sixth cardinal vowel: y. -Branddobbe 23:41, Apr 11, 2004 (UTC)

What was the value of y in Latin? Nohat 22:12, 2004 May 8 (UTC)
For those who knew Greek, probably [y] – the letter only occurs in recent Greek loans. For those who didn't, it was [i], as confirmed by misspellings in graffiti.
David Marjanović | david.marjanovic_at_gmx.at | 19:18 CEST | 2006/4/6

triphthong examples

the vowel sound in fire is a triphthong Is there a better example of a triphthong? Some of us do pronounce our rs, which I think would make the last sound a sonorant but not a vowel. Markalexander100 03:07, 13 May 2004 (UTC)

post-vocalic R's in rhotic dialects are rhotacized vowels. It's a triphthong in British and American English, although not in some dialects of southern american. Nohat 14:34, 2004 May 13 (UTC)

Ah, fair enough. Markalexander100 01:44, 14 May 2004 (UTC)

How many syllables do you think fire has - I think I have two in my (British) accent - and that it ends in schwa. Secretlondon 07:01, 30 May 2004 (UTC)
1 or 2 syllables (depending on your method for counting them), but 3 vowel sounds. Nohat 21:51, 2004 May 31 (UTC)

Triphthong says a triphthong is monosyllabic. Somewhere, we must be over-generalising. Markalexander100 00:32, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)

The problem is that in certain phonological analyses of English, words like "fire" and "jail" constitute just a single so-called super-heavy syllable, which many people perceive as being two syllables when the pronounce the word in isolation or citation form. It's complicated, because in normal speech those words function like other monosyllabic words. From a phonetic point of view, diphthongs and triphthongs are just connected series of vowels; the status of the number of syllables doesn't play into the phonetic definition of diphthongs and triphthongs. However, when you start getting into phonology, the distinction between series of vowels in separate syllables and monosyllabic diphthongs and triphthongs becomes important. From a purely phonetic point of view, there is no distinction, and languages that do distinguish them use cues like hiatus and lengthening to distinguish between diphthongs and series of vowels. Nohat 23:10, 2004 Jun 1 (UTC)
Since the above have problems with English examples, why not choose another language for example? I have put some info about vowels in Vietnamese language. - Ish ishwar 01:54, 2005 Jan 28 (UTC)
Or the Dutch language? - Karl Palmen 2005 Jan 28 09:00 (UTC)

Request for references

Hi, I am working to encourage implementation of the goals of the Wikipedia:Verifiability policy. Part of that is to make sure articles cite their sources. This is particularly important for featured articles, since they are a prominent part of Wikipedia. The Fact and Reference Check Project has more information. Thank you, and please leave me a message when you have added a few references to the article. - Taxman 20:00, Apr 21, 2005 (UTC)

Pending nomination for defeaturing

This article does not meet featured article criteria on the following counts:

  • There is an unattributed statement (Some linguists claim that it is possible to posit only one vowel in some Abkhaz dialects....)Do those linguists have names?
  • There are no references. Make wikipedia the most authoritative source of information in the world and add references. There is also no policy that says the reference criteria is not retroactive. It has been more than a year since that requirement was added, and more than a month since Taxman made his request.
  • The section on vowels is inadequate: How about Armenian, Burmese, or Greek; for Japanese there are too few characters)? Why is there Russian alphabet instead of the Cyrillic?

Thanks. Please leave me a message when these points are addressed.

If not all of these points are addressed, I, Miss Madeline, will nominate this article at WP:FARC on June 15, 2005. Miss Madeline | Talk to Madeline 21:34, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

re alphabets: why do alphabets need to be discussed in an article on vowels? are all languages with writing systems going to have their characters listed here? would this help us understand what vowels are anyway? i would think that this section could simply be removed. thoughts on this? peace – ishwar  (speak) 05:04, 2005 Jun 19 (UTC)
Well an article on vowels should discuss how they are used in various languages, and how their usage varies across languages. - Taxman Talk 07:15, Jun 19, 2005 (UTC)
yes, i think so, too. but then, the graphic representation of vowels through writing systems is irrelevant to a discuss of vowels — it is rather a relevant issue to orthography. – ishwar  (speak) 2005 June 29 21:20 (UTC)
Removed notice as issues were mostly addressed Miss Madeline | Talk to Madeline 29 June 2005 19:16 (UTC)

Where's this?

I found a language called Tydash with a vowel pronunciation table. The consonant table, though confusing, can probably be managed. But I can't find what high/mid/low means. Just what're these pertaining to?

VOWELS Front Central Back
High y u
Mid ä i a
Low ö e o

(That's likely copyrighted, though I can't find a copyright notice. I found it here.)

high/mid/low refers to tongue position. A lower tongue results in a larger mouth cavity and hence a lower frequency sound. –Shoaler (talk) 23:37, 6 August 2005 (UTC)
Ah, I see. Now I gotta figure out how to actually pronounce these :-)
Aha! The word shähi is pronounced somewhat like "schyehuh"--the sch sounding rather exactly like a consonantal hiss.
Lowering the tongue does not lower the fundamental frequency (since the overall vocal tract length essentially remains the same for all vowels). Lowering the tongue raises the frequencies of the first formant. The first formant frequency is basically what speakers use to distinguish low, mid, & high vowels. peace – ishwar  (speak) 21:55, 2005 August 7 (UTC)
Uhh... okay. Tell me how to pronounce shahi here then :-) --67.172.99.160 01:36, 8 August 2005 (UTC)
Shahi would be pronounced [ɕohə]. Or perhaps [ʃohə] was intended. Either way the closest thing in English would be "show-huh". Shähi would be [ɕehə] "shay-huh". (In case anyone else out there is curious, this is an invented language.) kwami 18:53, 2005 September 9 (UTC)

english example change

changed example of english 'prism' to 'table'... but noted in my edit comment to refer to Consonant cluster... that's wrong... see Consonant and Talk:Consonant

Exit 18:17, 9 September 2005 (UTC)

Accessibility

The section on articulation was wonderful...I've been reading on this stuff off and on for a long time, but this was the first time vowel sounds have made sense.

On the other hand, could the section on prosody at least explain what prosody is? And I don't get this sentence:

The Mixe language has a three-way contrast among short, half-long, and long vowels, and this has been reported from a few other languages, in not all of which is the distinction phonemic.

What does it mean about not always phonemic...like what kind of distinction would it be? NickelShoe 21:07, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Phonetic. I think it's probably referring to various Finnic languages which apparently have three lengths but the overlong length is conditioned by some other feature. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 23:29, 30 September 2005 (UTC)
That's not really accurate. "Suprasegmental" is better. Finnic languages indisputably distinguish three vowel lenghts phonetically, where one vowel length is an allophonic. Estonian, however, has undergone extensive syncopy, and the causes of allophony have been lost, leaving the tonal and length variations in a phonemic status. --Vuo 00:43, 1 October 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I still don't understand. I appreciate you trying, but even when I understand the words, it's hard to tie it all together when I'm fuzzy on distinctions between "phonetic" and "phonemic" and whatnot. I realize the technical terms exist for a reason, but they tend to suck for explaining things to people who aren't already up on the jargon. So I go read the article on one term, only to have to look up another in order to understand it, and so on. Basically I have to read every article on phonetics before I can understand any of them in full. Bleh. NickelShoe 05:49, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Sorry. Perhaps I will explain the thing you've quoted and we can work some other stuff out too. My knowledge on prosody isn't that great though (I'm only an amateur linguist and know only what I've picked up here and there) so someone else will need to help with that. Perhaps you can then help merging this information into appropriate parts of the arcticle to help someone without the jargon. Does anyone know if there's some sort of accessiblity guidelines/project? Not down to a level of Basic English, but something an outsider could understand.

So about what you've quoted. A phonetic distinction is one that is physically there and that an objective observer (e.g. someone looking at a graph of the speech) can see/hear. So for instance, when I say the word "seat", the vowel takes less time to say than when I say "seed"; likewise, when I say "cut" it takes less time than when I say "card" (in both cases, the biggest differences are length and the final consonant). A phonemic distinction is one that is relevant to the members of the speech community; the distinction is one that can't be derived from context. Every vowel in those four words takes a different length of time to say (in the order cut-seat-seed-card), but I ignore the difference between "seat" and "sead", and hear them both as the same vowel. On the other hand, I pay attention to the difference between "cut" and "card". If you asked me to put the vowels into different categories based on length, it would be (cut) vs (card, seat, sead). So for me, even though there's four different lengths (plus more...), there's only two different categories in my mind.

In Mixe tho, there's *three* different categories that are relevant. They probably have many more lengths as well...

I may still be too technical, or too patronising, or a mixture of both, and I apologise. I'm not the best at explaining things...

BTW: I speak Australian English. Other dialects have different rules about vowel length and vowel qualities and which R's they pronounce, so you might find that the vowel in 'seat' is shorter than the vowel in 'cut' (if you can hear the difference).

Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 06:58, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Thanks. I get it now, and it wasn't patronizing. What confused me was the idea of "contrasting" without the difference being phonemic. NickelShoe 11:21, 1 October 2005 (UTC)

Quadriphthongs?

Just a short question. I've been reading about the Aromanian language in some text on phonetics and orthography written by a native speaker, and I found out that these guys have a quadriphthong in the word "ceai" (tea) which is pronounced /ʧěaǐǔ/. The reverse circumflex accented symbols represent semivowels. This whole word is pronounced in a single syllable just like the corresponding Romanian word, spelled identically, but pronounced /ʧěaǐ/, without the final rounding. The succession of two semivowels is not unique in itself, Romanian has a couple of those, but I think four vocalic sounds in a syllable is. Does anyone know about quadriphthongs in other languages? Thanks. --AdiJapan 07:08, 6 October 2005 (UTC)

If it's indeed a native Romanian speaker making the transcription, then that transcription is contaminated by Romanian orthography. In Romanian, the palatal glide is written just 'i'. The real pronunciation must be /ʧěajǔ/. Similar words exist in other languages, and they always contain a palatal or velar glide. --Vuo 12:19, 6 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for replying, Vuo. The text I'm talking about was written by a native Aromanian speaker, in Aromanian. He doesn't include an IPA transcription (because he addresses native Aromanians whom he is teaching how to write), but he describes the word pronunciation in sufficiently good detail for me to infer the pronunciation. In this particular case, he says that in the word "ceai" only "a" is a vowel, with all others being semivowels, including the short final sound "u" that is not written, and that everything is pronounced in one syllable. Clear enough. I myself chose the symbol /ǐ/ for the semivowel /j/ just for the sake of uniformity: /ě/ /ǐ/ /ǒ/ /ǔ/ are in my notation the four semivowels of Romanian, of which /ǐ/ and /ǔ/ are generally written /j/ and /w/. Your transcription is then equivalent to mine.
Now, if you say this glide through four vowels also appears in some other languages, I'd be very interested to know some examples. They would further legitimate the name of "quadriphthong" that I think is appropriate. The only other examples I have are some Romanian words which, in a regional and rather archaic pronunciation, end in /ěaǐǔ/ (or /ěajw/ if you prefer). These include the noun "ceai" and a series of verbs in the indicative imperfect tense 2nd pers. sg., such as "goleai" /go'lěaǐǔ/ (you were emptying). --AdiJapan 05:07, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
Allow me to reiterate: I do not think quadriphthongs exist, since they require an approximant glide. Off the top of my head, I can think of Finnish auoin "I was opening (several things)" and lauoin "I shot (many times)". It is well established that although they feature four consecutive orthographic vowels, they feature an approximant glide: [auɥoin], [lauɥoin]. Of course, if you include the voiceless vowel 'h', it's not difficult to cite huouit "you emanated" and so on, since the articulation of 'h' is identical to the following vowel, except for its lack of voicing. [u̥uoɥui] would be the (unusual) transcription for this. --Vuo 23:06, 13 October 2005 (UTC)
Sorry to step in on a note of pure pedantry, but the word you're looking for is tetraphthong. 144.178.184.86 22:24, 8 November 2005 (UTC)

Degrees of contrast

Ish Ishwar has recently added the statement The highest number of constrastive degrees of backness is 3 to the backness section of this article. I've heard similar statements before, but I find them slightly confusing. Doesn't American English contrast four levels of backness: front /i/, near-front /ɪ/, near-back /ʊ/ and back /u/ (some of which may or may not come with extra added length)? If near-front doesn't count as a level of backness, why is it included in the list of degrees of backness? —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 06:10, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

hi. There are more than 3 phonetic differences, but these are not contrastive. The distinction in English is due also to vowel length and tongue height. To be clearly contrastive, it should be only the horizontal parameter that creates the primary difference. perhaps this is not clear? – ishwar  (speak) 06:33, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps you could add an example, but good luck finding one where rounding isn't distinctive!
Actually, SOWL has two exaples. Nimboran [ki] 'woman', [kɨ] 'shit', [kɯ] 'day'. (You'd better get your vowels right in that language!)
Nweh (Ngwe) has a phonetic, though evidently non-phonemic distinction in [mbe] 'knife', [ntsə] 'water', [mbɤ] 'ivory'. kwami 06:51, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

Thanks! I think that might be usefully added. What languages have three solely contrastive backnesses? I could think of Swedish's /uː/, /ʉː/, /yː/ triplet, except that apparently (so says the article) /ʉː/ and /yː/ are distinguished by endo/exolabial rounding (or whatever). I'm not an expert on language phonetics tho, I just like having records backed up. 'No language has more than three vowels distinguished solely by backness. Foolang is one which makes this many contrasts', or something. —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 07:00, 12 October 2005 (UTC)

The Scandivanian languages aren't a bad example, but are debatable. Ngwe is one of the Grassfields languages of Cameroon, closely related to Bantu, that is famous for having a large number of vowel distinctions, though evidently they aren't all phonemic (some only occur after some consonants, some after others). Nimboran is a language of New Guinea in the small Nimboran family.
It is questionable whether three degrees of backness can be justified phonologically (Nimboran may have been misanalysed after all), but there are enough languages with front, central, and back vowel that differ only by roundness, where roundness isn't otherwise distinctive, that it isn't hard to swallow the idea of phonemic central vowels. kwami 07:31, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your help; I might improve the article shortly. To my (amateurish) mind, that seems like it should be harder to swallow the idea—front rounded and back unrounded vowels are usually somewhat centralised anyway, so really it's just a matter of degrees. Still, I defer to the more-studied members amongst us. (Also, the fact that in at least some dialects of English, /ɜː/ can be either rounded or not depending on speaker age/origin and perhaps context indicates that it could be a long mid central vowel of unspecified rounding... hm...) —Felix the Cassowary (ɑe hɪː jɐ) 08:29, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
here's a link to a working paper Central vs. Back Vowels:
http://www.und.nodak.edu/dept/linguistics/wp/2000Parker.PDF.
it's kinda theoretical, but you can look through & see which languages have the contrast. peace – ishwar  (speak) 16:58, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

Question about first paragraph

I'm a bit confused by the phrase "syllabic unit" in the first paragraph. What's a syllabic unit? Could a link be added? Is this the same as a syllable nucleus?

It means only that vowels are units which are inherently syllabic. If you have a vowel, you have a syllable. That isn't the case with consonants. kwami 00:29, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

Written Vowels in English

Re this sentence: In the Latin alphabet, the vowel letters are usually A, E, I, O, U, and in some languages Y, as in English and W, as in Welsh.

I certainly agree with Y, and with W in Welsh. But W can also be a vowel in English too, albeit via Welsh. Take cwm. This is a Welsh word that has been accepted in English dictionaries and in the Scrabble community as a valid word that now forms part of the English language. Cwm often makes it onto lists and sites that claim it's an English word containing no vowels. But that's not possible. If W was a vowel when it was solely a Welsh word, and the spelling has not been changed upon its adoption into English, and the W is still performing exactly the same role as it did when it was solely a Welsh word, then how can W possibly have ceased to be a vowel? Answer: it hasn't. Cwm is either an English word containing the vowel W, or it isn't an English word at all (and all the dictionaries and Scrabble enthusiasts are going to have be told the bad news). The claim that it's an English word without any vowels is just not on. JackofOz 05:55, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

Yes, of course it's a vowel. It's also an unassimilated loan, and I've always seen the word spelled coomb etc. Where I live, there are freeway signs with the letter Ñ. Does that make Ñ a consonant in English? Or take the words façade and rôle - Do they mean that Ç is an English consonant, and Ô an English vowel? There are words without vowels, of course ("word" itself is one, in rhotic accents), but the cwm thing is digging at the very margins of the language. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but why stop at w? (Before you argue that Ñ and Ç have diacritics while W is a separate letter, remember that all three are historically digraphs: NN, CZ, VV.) kwami 07:37, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
The symbol in the IPA that represents this sound is u (or u if you're anywhere near Australia). --Ayelis 19:58, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Contrasting heights

Quote:

It may be that some varieties of German have five contrasting heights. The Bavarian dialect of Amstetten [Württemberg, not Lower Austria...] has thirteen long vowels, reported to be distinguished as four heights (close, close-mid, mid, and near-open) among the front unrounded, front rounded, and back rounded vowels, plus an open central vowel: /i e ε̝ æ̝/, /y ø œ̝ ɶ̝/, /u o ɔ̝ ɒ̝/, /a/. Otherwise, the usual limit on the number of vowel heights is four.

Why use an obscure dialect? Standard German has /iː ɪ eː ɛ/ (plus /æː/ in some regions), /yː ʏ øː œ/, /uː ʊ oː ɔ/, plus [ɐ] (an allophone of /ʀ/) and /a aː/ (one of the latter is central rather than front in some regions). That makes six vowel heights. If we allow vowels that only occur in diphthongs English, too, distinguishes six heights.

Now, I could have misunderstood the criteria. Do /ɪ ʏ ʊ/ not count because they are only near-front and near-back (so that height is not phonemic alone)? But if so, why does the reportedly central /a/ of that dialect count? Or do half of my examples not count because some have inherent shortness (so that, again, height isn't phonemic alone)? Is length really not distinctive at all in that dialect? :-S

(Oh, and does that dialect lack [ɐ]? As a Bavarian dialect it's not supposed to…!)

What have I missed?

David Marjanović | david.marjanovic_at_gmx.at | 21:48 CEST | 2006/4/6

In that dialect of Bavarian, all the contrasting vowels are long. In Standard German, you're also contrasting length, or tense-lax if you prefer, so it isn't simply a matter of height. The question is, holding all other parameters constant, how many height contrasts are possible? kwami 01:59, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

One of the best articles, but practically useless?

So much information about vowels... So little information on how to pronounce them. Understanding that English has various dialects and pronunciations (RP, GA, AuE, NZE, and CaE among others), I feel that this SPECIFIC article needs a pronunciation guide in addition to the sections it already has. I call for a "pronunciation disambiguation" on the main Vowel page; a section that explains pronunciation all in one place, to keep people from having to click on each little vowel to find out how they pronounce all the symbols of the IPA. And since Wikipedia's slogan is "Be Bold in updating pages", I shall take it upon myself to add such a section, such an 'all in one place' disambiguation. I call for your support; Do not remove this section if it doesn't meet your standards, but be bold in updating and improving the section: Make it work. --Ayelis 21:19, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Would it be possible to provide a more objective guide to pronunciation? I'm not familiar enough with the accents above to determine from the examples how each sound is pronounced, and I'm not familiar enough with the chart to make more than a rough guess as to how the accent goes. Maybe an explanation of the vowel sounds using the descriptions mentioned in the rest of the article, open, rounded, etc., would help in understanding these pronunciations. Amanita 14:53, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Weasel Words

"... most linguists do not believe"

Totally weasel. Cite sources, or delete the phrase. --Einstein9073 04:23, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

I didn't write this phrase, but I did come up with several citations that approximate the belief that such analyses are not generally accepted. One such analysis of Chinese (Pulleyblank, E.G. (1984) "Vowelless Chinese? An application of the three-tiered theory of syllable structure." In Proceedings of the 16th International Congress on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics (v2: pp. 568-619)) is referred to in both Duanmu's The Phonology of Standard Chinese and http://www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~pkpm2/yue.pdf as being an "extreme" theory. My intro linguistics book, Essential Introductory Linguistics by Grover Hudson, says that "All languages have consonants and vowels" is an absolute non-implicational universal, as does Comrie's Language Universals and Linguistic Typology, which suggests that indeed most linguists would quarrel with no-vowel language analyses. The first four citations on http://books.google.com/books?q=do+all+languages+have+vowels&hl=en&hs=HRm&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&sa=N&tab=wp all say the same.
I don't have any experience adding citations to an article (I mostly do small grammar and content edits) but I'm happy to see any or all of these added as citations to support the statement. --armchairlinguist 11:27, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Reader Question

Listening to the sound samples, IPA vowel 321 (X-SAMPA: U) sounds lower than IPA vowel 323 (X-SAMPA: 8). Has there been a mix-up between those two sound samples? If there is no mix-up, then the Swedish sound sample 'ort' as an example in which the vowel U (X-SAMPA) occurs makes little sense. Of course, the Swedish U is not pronounced exactly like the English U, but to my ear the sound sample of U does not sound like the vowel in 'bush' or 'bull' either. If the sound sample of the vowel U is pronounced without roundedness, then that might explain the sound of it.

The sound sample for the Swedish word 'full' as an example in which the vowel 8 (X-SAMPA) occurs is not very convincing either, although this may be due to the fact that the vowel in Sw. 'full' is "mid central" rather than "close-mid central".

The above question was asked on the talk page 21:11, 22 June 2006 by 83.227.57.90 and moved here User:Angr 13:59, 23 June 2006 (UTC)

Semivowel in Welsh

The syllable nucleus may also be a semivowel, like W in Welsh.

What does this mean? In English, the semivowel in "Welsh" is not the syllable necleus; it's the syllable onset. Can /w/ be a syllable nucleus in the Welsh language? --Kjoonlee 07:39, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

I think what the sentence is attempting to say is that the letter w represents a vowel sound (/u/ or /ʊ/) in Welsh. I'll try to re-phrase it. User:Angr 11:54, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Issues with the 'written vowels' section...

The second paragraph states:

In the case of English, the five primary vowel letters can represent both long and short vowel sounds (some of the long vowel sounds in English are actually diphthongs). Furthermore, in English some vowel sounds are represented by combinations of vowel letters, such as the ea in beat or by a vowel letter and an approximant letter, as the ow in how, or the er in her. (emphasis mine)

Two problems here, the first being that there is no distinction in English between long and short vowels. What were in the traditional grammar taught as long and short vowels are in reality entirely different vowels. I would change it, but I'm not sure how to word it.

Issue number two is that the 'er' in "her" is neither a vowel nor an approximant in my English. It's a syllabic r. Obviously, this is not true for the entire English speaking population and for them, there is a vowel in there, but perhaps we could choose an example that is slightly less ambiguous? --Stella luna 04:14, 23 July 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps instead of trying to make sense of the english vowel system and explain it, just say what it actually is. A complete mess. Or maybe we could say:
The five primary vowel sounds can represent what are traditionally considered 'long' and 'short' vowel sounds. Unlike some languages, the 'long' and 'short' vowels in English differ in quality (many are completely different vowels, and some long vowels are actually diphthongs) and not their actual length of pronunciation. These vowels may also represent completely different vowel sounds different from their 'long' or 'short' pronunciations. For example, the a in any and father both differ from both the 'long' and 'short' pronunciations of the letter a. Furthermore, these five primary vowel sounds can form combinations, which can also include certain consonants, which are pronounced in quite an irregular fashion. Take, for instance, the differences between the ou in pour and our and the ough in tough and though.
How does that sound? Maybe a bit choppy? Also, the 'er' in 'her' is not a syllabic 'r', syllabic r's, as far as I know, are found in Czech or Slovak (may be wrong there) and not in English, but the 'er' in 'her', according to the Standard American dialect, is a rhotacized open-mid central unrounded vowel. But considering how I got rid of the example of 'her' in my paragraph rewrite, and replaced it with 'ough', that shouldn't be a problem. --Redtitan 18:17, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the r you are thinking of (which is indeed found in Czech) is a 'raised alveolar non-sonorant vibrant' (taken directly from the Czech language page). In English, a syllabic r is simply where there is no other vowel and the r functions as the nucleus of the syllable. A professor of mine last year (who, incidentally, was an American from Minnesota) had the policy that rhoticized schwa was, for our purposes, interchangeable with syllabic r. Maybe there's a difference, I'm not sure. But thanks for all the input!--Stella luna 18:55, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
There is a phonetic difference between r in the onset of a syllable (like red and bread) and r in the rhyme of a syllable, but none really between the "syllabic r" of bird and the coda r of car or more. For this reason it's occasionally suggested that it would be more accurate to transcribe car and more narrowly as [kʰɑɚ̯] and [mɔɚ̯] instead of [kʰɑɹ] and [mɔɹ], and use the symbol [ɹ] only for the onset consonant, but in practice this is hardly ever done. User:Angr 07:15, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Integration of articulation articles

The articles manner of articulation and place of articulation, and at least part of vowel and consonant, seemed intended to form a cluster under articulatory phonetics. So I've altered the linkage, changing the vowel up link from Phonetics to Articulatory phonetics (which in retrospect seems... in need of review), and adding a similar uplink to consonant, which didn't have one. And added uplinks to the articulation pages, which seems straightforward. I did a little bit of cleanup of the articulatory phonetics stub, but it still needs much work. Perhaps the vowel and consonant up links should be to phonetics, with a link to articulatory phonetics in their articulation sections? 66.30.119.55 06:07, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

I've reverted the vowel up link to phonetics and made "articulatory feature" at the top of the Articulation section into a new link to articulatory phonetics. However, I've just discovered distinctive feature. Perhaps manner of articulation and place of articulation belong under it instead of articulatory phonetics? Consonant already has a link to it, and the new vowel "articulatory feature" link could nicely be repointed. Then one would only need to improve linkage between the articulation articles and distinctive feature (and between it and articulatory phonetics). 66.30.119.55 06:32, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Reference for languages with more vowels than consonants

"and in languages whose inventories of vowels are larger than their inventories of consonants."

Aside from the languages listed under "having very few consonants", are there any such languages?

--Armchairlinguist 23:57, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Aside from those languages, I don't know. But it's certainly true of Hawaiian, one of the languages described as having very few consonants. Hawaiian has eight consonants (p, k, ʔ, h, m, n, l w) and ten monophthongs (counting long vowels separately: a, e, i, o, u, ā, ē, ī, ō, ū) as well as a large number of diphthongs (almost any two short vowels can be put together in any order to form a diphthong). User:Angr 05:04, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Finnish word w/ vowels

The longest sensible word with most consecutive vowels is Finnish riiuuyöaieuutinen (courting night intention news [certainly yellow press stuff!])

What the heck is this? Is that supposed to be a translation of that word? And if so, what does it mean? That's a sensible word in Finnish? 141.151.181.162 04:40, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

I just listened to the spoken article - he says the Finnish word, and gives a translation of something "night intention news" - the first word doesn't sound like "courting", though, and the phrase still makes no sense to me. 141.151.181.162 04:57, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Spoken Word Version...

Listening to the spoken word version, it is difficult to place the accent and native language of the speaker; it does seem to drift. Were I a visually impared english speaker, I think I would likely be confused as to some of the english pronunciations. --Ayelis 08:45, 24 January 2007 (UTC)

Forgotten Vowels

Y is always a vowel, NO acception. I don't care what modern curriculum tells us. Also, H,R,W are vowels because they do not have ANY consonant sound whatsoever. English would be weird if there where a third catogory, rather than a perfect two catagory system. Those are vowels hands down. I noticed this in elementary school and was astounded by the manner at which teachers never discussed this topic with us, and they've been teaching consonant sounds for YEARS (vowel sounds too, LOL). Death to disassociation!!!!!! My entry on these vowels was reverted by DireOrganic becasue of so called redundancy, and it was never mentioned in the first place. Are you just jealous that I firgured this out before you or any of you?

Bill Mclemore

This is incorrect. The usual sounds of the letters Y, R, and W as in YES, REST, and WEST are approximant consonants. The usual sound of H as in HOT is a fricative consonant. The letter Y sometimes represents a vowel sound (the near-close near-front unrounded vowel) in words like GYM and SYLLABLE and a diphthong in words like CRY and RYAN. I think you are confusing the vowel/consonant distinction with the sonorant/non-sonorant distinction. Nohat 01:39, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
Actually H R W and Y shouldn't really be called vowels or consonants. And no, English doesn't have a three-category system in this respect, as the words "vowel" and "consonant" only really make sense in terms of sound. In a word like "happy" the letter y represents a vowel. In a word like "sky" it represents a diphthong. In a word like "yes" it represents a consonant (an approximant, as Nohat points out). OK, so it's reasonable that, if a particular letter always represents a vowel sound, we call it a vowel. But here's the problem: some letters sometimes represent vowels and sometimes represent consonants. It's nonsense to insist on the letter y being one or the other. garik 10:46, 17 May 2007 (UTC) edited by garik 15:47, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Any Possibility of Including Historical Usage of Vowels

Can anyone include a section on the historical usage of vowels, particularly that of its inclusion in written language? I would imagine that the history of vowel use would be more speculative in spoken language. But a history of its inclusion in alphabets and language groupings would be very useful. Stevenmitchell 10:11, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Discrepancy in 'Pronunciation in English'

As an example of the front open-mid unrounded vowel ɛ, 'fat' is listed for AuE and NZE. And then as an example for the front near-open unrounded vowel æ, 'fat' is listed not only for GA and RP, but also for AuE and NZE, which is a contradiction. I'm not very familiar with AuE/NZE, so I don't know which (ɛ or æ) is actually the vowel used in 'fat', but someone who does know should correct this. 71.224.131.233 21:35, 21 May 2007 (UTC)