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Thread: rhyme, vowels

  1. #1
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default rhyme, vowels

    I have a difficulty with understanding what rhymes in English and what doesn't. I know the definition of rhyme, and I can rhyme in my own language. The problem in English is that it has this enormous number of vowels and regional differences in pronunciation.

    Let's take this limerick:

    A boy from Berlin used to bother
    His jaded, worn-out, poor old mother
    He said to her, "Mom,
    I want to have some
    New sisters, and one little brother."

    I have three problems here.

    1. Can I rhyme "mother" with "bother"? As far as I know, the letter "o" denotes different sounds in these words (/ʌ/, and /ɒ/). I understand the difference between these sounds. But when I read these lines I pronounce both words in the same, rhyming manner, and I hear nothing wrong about it. I'd like to know how native speakers would do it. I hear so many English accents (and Polish English is important here) that it's very hard for me to get the right pronunciation of vowels sometimes. I actually think that mastering the vowels is the hardest thing in learning English (maybe the prepositions are as hard).

    2. Can I rhyme "mom" and "some"? (I think it's the same problem.)

    3. Could I rhyme "bother" with "father"? I think it's even more tricky than the previous ones. For me, both letters "o" in "bother", and "a" in "father" denote longer vowels. In Polish, all vowels have the same length but I think it's not the case in English. So can it make a rhyme in English?
    Last edited by birdeen's call; 03-Aug-2010 at 12:18.

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I have a difficulty with understanding what rhymes in English and what doesn't. I know the definition of rhyme, and I can rhyme in my own language. The problem in English is that it has this enormous number of vowels and regional differences in pronunciation.

    Let's take this limerick:

    A boy from Berlin used to bother
    His jaded, worn-out, poor old mother
    He said to her, "Mom,
    I want to have some
    New sisters, and one little brother."

    I have three problems here.

    1. Can I rhyme "mother" with "bother"?
    No, they don't rhyme in most English accents. It's a near-rhyme.

    As far as I know, the letter "o" denotes different sounds in these words (/ʌ/, and /ɒ/).
    That's your answer.
    I understand the difference between these sounds. But when I read these lines I pronounce both words in the same, rhyming manner, and I hear nothing wrong about it. I'd like to know how native speakers would do it. I hear so many English accents (and Polish English is important here) that it's very hard for me to get the right pronunciation of vowels sometimes. I actually think that mastering the vowels is the hardest thing in learning English (maybe the prepositions are as hard).

    2. Can I rhyme "mom" and "some"? (I think it's the same problem.)
    Yes.

    3. Could I rhyme "bother" with "father"?
    Maybe in some AmE accents?
    I think it's even more tricky than the previous ones. For me, both letters "o" in "bother", and "a" in "father" denote longer vowels. In Polish, all vowels have the same length but I think it's not the case in English. So can it make a rhyme in English?
    To rhyme, it has to be the same vowel sound.

  3. #3
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    Re 2. I don't know about Australian English, but in Am. English I believe that "mom" has the vowel sound /ɒ/, whereas in Br Eng 'mum' has the vowel sound /ʌ/. You can certainly rhyme 'mum' with 'some'.

    b

  4. #4
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    OK, thank you both very much! I planned to ask more precise questions after I receive some answers, and I see I actually have to do it.

    What is a near-rhyme? We have something like this in Polish but it's only similar in some way. We have less vowels, and every vowel is clearly distinguishable. I mean no two of them are close to each other. No two are similar. So I have no basis to understand this case. To me, these sounds are similar. I know the difference but to me it's slight. I would transcribe them both to Polish with the letter "a". So I have no idea what would be the native speaker's reaction to such a near-rhyme

    My next question is about accents. From your replies I've learned that something can rhyme in one accent and not rhyme in another. So when a person from Massachusetts reads a poem by another person from Yorkshire or Auckland, New Zealand, how do they do that? When you read something that doesn't rhyme in your accent, but you believe it must rhyme in another, what's the first reaction of your minds? How do you pronounce it?

    BobK, I was basing on this link and this when I said what I said about "some" and "mom".

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    ...

    BobK, I was basing on this link and this when I said what I said about "some" and "mom".

    Hmm. You get what you pay for, I suppose! (I wish dictionaries would use the IPA rather than making up their own systems.)

    As I said 'mom' is an Am Eng word.

    b

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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Hmm. You get what you pay for, I suppose! (I wish dictionaries would use the IPA rather than making up their own systems.)

    As I said 'mom' is an Am Eng word.

    b
    I think some of these systems are older than IPA! Am I wrong?

    But I think you didn't look at the whole pages. There are also Collins Dictionary entries there, and they use IPA.

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    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I think some of these systems are older than IPA! Am I wrong?

    But I think you didn't look at the whole pages. There are also Collins Dictionary entries there, and they use IPA.
    Yes, they are. I wasn't being entirely serious.

    The Collins reference says that MOM is US and gives the Br. Eng, which rhymes precisely with 'some'.

    b

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    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    OK, thank you both very much! I planned to ask more precise questions after I receive some answers, and I see I actually have to do it.

    What is a near-rhyme? We have something like this in Polish but it's only similar in some way. We have less vowels, and every vowel is clearly distinguishable. I mean no two of them are close to each other. No two are similar. So I have no basis to understand this case. To me, these sounds are similar. I know the difference but to me it's slight. I would transcribe them both to Polish with the letter "a". So I have no idea what would be the native speaker's reaction to such a near-rhyme

    My next question is about accents. From your replies I've learned that something can rhyme in one accent and not rhyme in another. So when a person from Massachusetts reads a poem by another person from Yorkshire or Auckland, New Zealand, how do they do that? When you read something that doesn't rhyme in your accent, but you believe it must rhyme in another, what's the first reaction of your minds? How do you pronounce it?

    BobK, I was basing on this link and this when I said what I said about "some" and "mom".
    There's no easy way around it.
    If you wrote a rhyming poem with 'bother' and 'father', I would not detect a rhyme, and I'd say "To me, it doesn't rhyme", and I would get less enjoyment from it (given that it was supposed to rhyme, as in a limerick).

    A near rhyme can have various affects. All good poets in English have done it. But if a bad non-native poet did it, it would usually appear as a failed attempt to rhyme.

    Despite this apparent difficulty, there is absolutely no shortage of words that do rhyme in English - but not with 'English'

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    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: rhyme, vowels

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    There's no easy way around it.
    If you wrote a rhyming poem with 'bother' and 'father', I would not detect a rhyme, and I'd say "To me, it doesn't rhyme", and I would get less enjoyment from it (given that it was supposed to rhyme, as in a limerick).

    A near rhyme can have various affects. All good poets in English have done it. But if a bad non-native poet did it, it would usually appear as a failed attempt to rhyme.

    Despite this apparent difficulty, there is absolutely no shortage of words that do rhyme in English - but not with 'English'
    Thanks! Alright, I see that I should try composing only rhymes that really rhyme, as I'm certainly both bad, and non-native as an English-language poet. But it's a pity that I don't understand these "near-rhymes", I'd really like to... But it's good knowledge anyway what I've got in this thread, so thank you again!!

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