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  1. #1
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    Smile How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Hi teachers:

    In standard english (Received Pronunciation) accent, what is the vowel equivalet to the "a" sound in the diphthong /ai/?

    /ɑː/ and pronounced /ɑːI/ ?

    /ʌ/ and pronounced /ʌI/ ?

    // and pronounced /I/ ?

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Hi teachers:

    In standard english (Received Pronunciation) accent, what is the vowel equivalet to the "a" sound in the diphthong /ai/?

    /ɑː/ and pronounced /ɑːI/ ?

    /ʌ/ and pronounced /ʌI/ ?

    // and pronounced /I/ ?

    Thank you.
    Hi!

    Go to bite - definition of bite by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. and try to carefully figure out with the word 'bite', pronounced by an English and American speaker.
    Last edited by omasta; 01-Jan-2010 at 13:19.

  3. #3
    peperonnie is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Quote Originally Posted by omasta View Post
    Hi!

    Go to bite - definition of bite by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia. and try to carefully figure out with the word 'bite' pronounced by an English and American speakers.
    Thanks for your quick response omasta.

    I'm sorry by that does not help.

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    Default Re: How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Hi teachers:

    In standard english (Received Pronunciation) accent, what is the vowel equivalet to the "a" sound in the diphthong /ai/?

    /ɑː/ and pronounced /ɑːI/ ?

    /ʌ/ and pronounced /ʌI/ ?

    // and pronounced /I/ ?

    Thank you.
    Hi again!

    I think it is simply unanswerable question because the diphthong /ai/ is an integrated unit where one can't separate easily the vowel /a/ from /i/ the way you want to. You have to treat it as a phonological unit, as a representation of the sound /aj/ (/ay/) in such words as: bite /bajt/, fly /flaj/, die /daj/, right /rajt/, mine /majn/, high /haj/, why /waj/.
    Last edited by omasta; 01-Jan-2010 at 13:29.

  5. #5
    Linguist__ is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    Hi teachers:

    In standard english (Received Pronunciation) accent, what is the vowel equivalet to the "a" sound in the diphthong /ai/?

    /ɑː/ and pronounced /ɑːI/ ?

    /ʌ/ and pronounced /ʌI/ ?

    // and pronounced /I/ ?

    Thank you.
    (Not a teacher)

    The vowel equivalent to /a/ is /a/! None of the vowels you said there, /ɑː/, /ʌ/, // are the 'starting' vowel in the diphthong /aɪ/ - /a/ is it's own vowel sound, and a very common one too!

    Indeed, none of the vowels you put there are part of any diphthong. In RP there are eight diphthongs:

    /ɪə/ - as in 'hear'
    /eɪ/ - as in 'say'
    /ʊə/ - as in 'sure'
    /ɔɪ/ - as in 'boy'
    /əʊ/ - as in 'know' (only in very conservative RP. This diphthong is rare.)
    /eə/ - as in 'bear'
    /aɪ/ - as in 'buy'
    /aʊ/ - as in 'bow' (verb)

    As you can see, the only 'stressed' vowels are /a/ /e/ /ʊ/ and /ɔ:/ (/ɪ/ too in /ɪə/). There is no /ɑː/, /ʌ/, or //in English RP diphthongs.

    Here is a website that includes a sound file for all IPA sounds, including all the vowels. It doesn't join them in diphthongs, but you should hear clearly the difference between /ɑː/, /ʌ/, // and /a/:

    The International Phonetic Alphabet - Audio Illustrations

  6. #6
    peperonnie is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Linguist__

    Thx for your response. I'm glad to see that you understand my question, and you've deffenetly thrown in some light.

    You are saying that there are 4 diferent positions (lips and tongue) to pronounce the vowel "a" (I'm assuming the "a" sound in /aʊ/ is the same than in /aɪ/)

    I had never contemplated that posibility, at all.

    In your link to the vowels chart, I can see that the sound // is the closest to the "a" sound in /aɪ/ (bassically the "a" in /aɪ/ is an // with a wider mouth opening), but I find that very confusing. As much as I say the word "fine" outloud (with a front tongue and open mouth position) It doesn't sound right.

    One thing I've just notice in the vowels chart is that, If i draw an imaginary line from the exact point of the vowel "a" (botton left) all the way up to the row with the tree possitions of the tongue, you end up with the fact that the vowel "a" in /aɪ/ has actually a middle tongue position an is actually closer to the sound /ʌ/.

    God, I'm getting too obsses.

  7. #7
    Linguist__ is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Quote Originally Posted by peperonnie View Post
    You are saying that there are 4 diferent positions (lips and tongue) to pronounce the vowel "a" (I'm assuming the "a" sound in /aʊ/ is the same than in /aɪ/)

    I had never contemplated that posibility, at all.
    I don't understand what you mean by that. Are you talking about the orthographic letter 'a', or the phonetic symbol /a/? If it is the phonetic symbol /a/, then there is only one position - front open unrounded. Changing any of these three factors changes the vowel to another. As you said, the difference between /a/ and // is minimal. If you said // instead of /a/ in the diphthong /aɪ/ it wouldn't sound at all wrong. With my accent, I never say /a/! My point is that it isn't RP, but it is perfectly acceptable.

    Quote Originally Posted by peperonnie View Post
    In your link to the vowels chart, I can see that the sound // is the closest to the "a" sound in /aɪ/ (bassically the "a" in /aɪ/ is an // with a wider mouth opening), but I find that very confusing. As much as I say the word "fine" outloud (with a front tongue and open mouth position) It doesn't sound right.

    One thing I've just notice in the vowels chart is that, If i draw an imaginary line from the exact point of the vowel "a" (botton left) all the way up to the row with the tree possitions of the tongue, you end up with the fact that the vowel "a" in /aɪ/ has actually a middle tongue position an is actually closer to the sound /ʌ/.

    God, I'm getting too obsses.
    One thing I should point out about the vowel chart that I didn't realise - the positions of the tongue refer to the middle of the tongue. Not the tip/root.

    Don't get too caught up in the IPA vowel chart, it is far from being accurate. It was made by the great phonetician Daniel Jones in the 40s or 50s, I believe. All he did was take the most extreme front close sound - /i:/ - and the most extreme close back sound - /ɑ:/ - and filled in the bits between with approximations of where the tongue was positioned. Recent medical imaging techniques have allowed phoneticians to look at what the tongue actually does when speaking. The consonants are well represented by the IPA, but the vowel chart is very different on an x-ray!

    You speak Spanish, and as far as I'm aware you have the /aɪ/ diphthong in words such as 'aire'. If you want to say the vowels like RP, then use that website I linked to. Daniel Jones was very strict about his vowels - for the /i:/ the middle of the tongue has to be as far forward as possible, and as close to the palate as possible. Otherwise, it isn't a true /i:/. In practice, not even the finest, most articulate person says a true, Daniel Jones certified /i:/ in normal speech!

  8. #8
    peperonnie is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: How to pronounce the /ai/ diphthong

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    As you said, the difference between /a/ and // is minimal. If you said // instead of /a/ in the diphthong /aɪ/ it wouldn't sound at all wrong. With my accent, I never say /a/! My point is that it isn't RP, but it is perfectly acceptable.

    That make sense to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Linguist__ View Post
    You speak Spanish, and as far as I'm aware you have the /aɪ/ diphthong in words such as 'aire'. If you want to say the vowels like RP, then use that website I linked to.
    That's what I naturally tend to do and people generally understand, but I am trying to polish my rough-thick spanish accent, and get the vowels just right. I will definitely double check on that link.

    Antother question in the same direction...
    Would you say that in the diphthong /əʊ/ the schwa has equal phonetic value than the single /ə/ sound ??


    Thanks for you're time.

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