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  1. #1
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    A child asked me the following questions:

    1. Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowels?
    2. Why do we call the others as consonants?

    Could anybody help, please?

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 25-Jun-2012 at 18:58.

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    Why do we call the brown things with leaves on them "trees"?

    Because that is the name we use in English.

    Now, if you want to know what the difference is between vowels and consonants, then consider that you must move your lips or tongue to form consonants, but not vowels.

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    Now, if you want to know what the difference is between vowels and consonants, then consider that you must move your lips or tongue to form consonants, but not vowels.
    I don't agree. Both lips and tongue are important in the formation of vowels. The key difference between vowels and most consonants is that the passage of air from the lungs is not restricted in any way in the production of vowels.

    Incidentally, the word ‘vowel’ comes from the same root as ‘vocal’ – vowel sounds are made only with the voice. ‘Consonant’ comes from words meaning ‘with-sounding’. Most consonants (voiceless fricatives are an exception) cannot be pronounced without an accompanying vowel sound.
    Last edited by 5jj; 25-Jun-2012 at 19:06. Reason: note added

  4. #4
    Winwin2011 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I don't agree. Both lips and tongue are important in the formation of vowels. The key difference between vowels and most consonants is that the passage of air from the lungs is not restricted in any way in the production of vowels.

    Incidentally, the word ‘vowel’ comes from the same root as ‘vocal’ – vowel sounds are made only with the voice. ‘Consonant’ comes from words meaning ‘with-sounding’. Most consonants (voiceless fricatives are an exception) cannot be pronounced without an accompanying vowel sound.
    Thanks,5jj.

    The child told me that he noticed every word must have a vowel in it. Is he right?

  5. #5
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    The A child told me that he noticed every word must have a vowel in it. Is he right?
    Very nearly. Personally, I'd accept hmm, hmph, sh, psst, and the sounds often represented by the spellings tsk and tut as words. Non of these has a vowel sound.

  6. #6
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    To produce vowels the tongue doesn't have to touch anything inside the mouth . I have a book that considers r sound a vowel or semivowel because to produce r the tongue doesn't touch the roof or anything else.

    Not a teacher

  7. #7
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    1. Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowels?
    2. Why do we call the others as consonants?
    These are not vowel sounds. They are vowel letters. Traditionally, there are five vowel letters in English and twenty-one consonant letters. The vowel letters are

    A E I O U

    and the consonant letters are

    B C D F G H J K L M N P Q R S T V W X Y Z

    As you can see Y is among consonant letters, even though it represents a vowel sound in the word "happy". The trouble with letters and sounds is they are not in a bijective correspondence. One letter can represent many sounds and one sound can be represented by many letters. But as a rule of thumb, vowel letters are used to represent vowel sounds and consonant letters represent consonant sounds. There are very many vowel sounds in English, much more than just five. You can find something about English vowels here. As you can see, they are definitely not A, E, I, O and U. There is an important difference between sounds and letters.

    For words without vowel letters, there is "Mrs." for example. But it does have vowel sounds, two in fact.

    There are words without vowel sounds in my native language, that is "w" and "z", which mean in and from respectively. In most cases, it wouldn't be possible to notice that they are separate words in normal speech. When I say "w kraju" (in the country), I pronounce it ['fkraju], as if the two words were one word. The same goes for "z kraju" (from the country), which is ['skraju].

  8. #8
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Another new expression for my collection. Thank you.

  9. #9
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Another new expression for my collection. Thank you.
    You're welcome. I though I'd throw it in because I was too lazy to think of another way of saying it shortly. I still don't know if there is one.

  10. #10
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Why do we call a.e.i.o.u as vowel?

    "One-to-one correspondence" would probably be how I'd say it.

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