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  1. #1
    Razor is offline Newbie
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    Default I can't differentiate between "year" and "ear"

    I went to youtube and searched for videos that teaches me how to pronounce the "y" sound but so far I have failed miserably. My pronunciation of "year" sound like "ear". I am pronouncing the consonant y or /j/ as a vowel /i/. This is a big problem for me if I want to learn other languages like Mandarin.


    I thought that by searching youtube, I will get a clear answer, but unfortunately each of them has different ways of pronouncing "y".

    "y" or /j/ (as represented by in IPA) is a palatal approximant consonant. It uses the mid/back tongue as the active articulator and the soft palate as the passive articulator.

    * I can't post link yet, so please go to youtube and copy and paste the name. It's the first video.

    For example in this video titled English: How to Pronounce the Y [j] consonant: American Accent , she says

    "The mid front part of the tongue raises and presses against the roof of the mouth. The tip of the tongue comes down and lightly touches the behind the bottom front teeth while the throat closes off to give the "y" quality."

    However, In this video,The "y" sound in English, he says

    "It's made by folding your lips back like this and the tongue stays under."

    Finally the last video, English Speech Tip 18: y, ur - yogurt , she says

    "The easy way to say this consonant is to position your mouth so your teeth is closed, lips are opened and the tongue is flat but the sides of the tongue go up to the top over of your mouth."

    As you can see, their explanation is not the same. Up till today, I still can't pronounce /j/ properly. It only happens when there's a /i/ vowel before /j/. As in "year" and "ear", "yin" and "in" etc. I have no problem pronouncing "yet" or "jet".

    Thank you for your help.

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I can't differentiate between "year" and "ear"

    Say 'three ears', running the words together. There is a /j/ sound in the glide from the vowel of 'three' to the diphthong of 'ears' In normal conversation, there is very little difference between the sound of 'three ears' and that of 'three years'. Try to hold the position of your tongue as you move from 'three' to ears' - that is the position for /j/. Try to produce just that sound.

    Say 'long ears'; now try to insert the /j/ when you say 'long years'.
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  3. #3
    EngFan is offline Member
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    Default Re: I can't differentiate between "year" and "ear"

    Quote Originally Posted by Razor View Post
    I went to youtube and searched for videos that teaches me how to pronounce the "y" sound but so far I have failed miserably. My pronunciation of "year" sound like "ear". I am pronouncing the consonant y or /j/ as a vowel /i/. This is a big problem for me if I want to learn other languages like Mandarin.


    I thought that by searching youtube, I will get a clear answer, but unfortunately each of them has different ways of pronouncing "y".

    "y" or /j/ (as represented by in IPA) is a palatal approximant consonant. It uses the mid/back tongue as the active articulator and the soft palate as the passive articulator.

    * I can't post link yet, so please go to youtube and copy and paste the name. It's the first video.

    For example in this video titled English: How to Pronounce the Y [j] consonant: American Accent , she says

    "The mid front part of the tongue raises and presses against the roof of the mouth. The tip of the tongue comes down and lightly touches the behind the bottom front teeth while the throat closes off to give the "y" quality."

    However, In this video,The "y" sound in English, he says

    "It's made by folding your lips back like this and the tongue stays under."

    Finally the last video, English Speech Tip 18: y, ur - yogurt , she says

    "The easy way to say this consonant is to position your mouth so your teeth is closed, lips are opened and the tongue is flat but the sides of the tongue go up to the top over of your mouth."

    As you can see, their explanation is not the same. Up till today, I still can't pronounce /j/ properly. It only happens when there's a /i/ vowel before /j/. As in "year" and "ear", "yin" and "in" etc. I have no problem pronouncing "yet" or "jet".

    Thank you for your help.
    I can use the simply way to make you understand the correct pronunciation of "ear", many non-native speakers would pronounce this word same as "year". I was wondering if you could pronounce the letter "E" correctly? You must have to know the letter "E" is /i:/, the sound of "ear" is E + ə (Schwa), schwa is the weak sound, like "ah" but not loud...again you should learn how to pronounce "E" correctly, then you would know how to pronounce "ear". For "year", you have to add the y sound in front of ear....hope you understand....As you are non-native speaker, I suggest you learn the phonetics symbols, otherwise it's very hard to tell you in text how to pronounce English words...

  4. #4
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I can't differentiate between "year" and "ear"

    Quote Originally Posted by EngFan View Post
    I can use the simply way to make you understand the correct pronunciation of "ear", many non-native speakers would pronounce this word the same as "year". No, they wouldn't.
    I was wondering if you could pronounce the letter "E" correctly? You must have to know the letter "E" is /i:/, the sound of "ear" is E + ə (Schwa), actually, it is /ɪə/
    schwa is the weak sound, like "ah" but not loud... Not really
    /
    Please do not edit your question after it has received a response. Such editing can make the response hard for others to understand.


  5. #5
    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Default Re: I can't differentiate between "year" and "ear"

    Your confusion is justified. Catford sees no difference between the voiced dorso-palatal approximant /j/ and the vowel /i/. However, voiceless approximants are turbulent, just like fricatives.

    When /j/ is emphasized (or when these y+vowel words are focused/emphasized/pitch accented), it can become a voiced dorso-palatal fricative /ʝ/. One way to test these things out is to grab these words from a speech stream (not from dictionaries), use audacity to grab the first segment of 'year' and 'ear', and ask native speakers what they hear.

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