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Thread: ei and ae

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    Default ei and ae

    We all know a can pronounce in not a few ways, so when it have to be pronounced /ei/ and /ae/?

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    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: ei and ae

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly T View Post
    We all know a can pronounce in not a few ways, so when it have to be pronounced /ei/ and /ae/?
    Why only two? There are four main sorts of a:

    // as in mad
    /eı/ as in made
    /ə/ as in madeira (both times)
    /a:/ as in marred

    There are some rules, but there are many exceptions (see the numbers in red):
    • 1 Usually an a on its own in a monosyllable (or in any stressed position) sounds //, unless it's followed by an r: mad, Sam, tack ... but spar /spa:/, father
    • 2 Usually an e following that sort of a makes the sound into an /eı/: made, same, take ...
    • 3 Usually an a in an unstressed syllable makes the /ə/ sound


    There are more, but I'll try to find a site that spells them all out. These three are enough to make the point. Here are some exceptions:


    • 1 spa (/spa:/
    • 2 bathe /beıδ/
    • 3 manage /'mnıʤ/


    As English is such a mixture of languages, similar-looking words often get pronounced differently: father but bather (/a:/ but /eı/); rational but rationale (in the last syllable, /ə/ and /a:/) ...

    So unfortunately you just have to learn them (preferably by using them aloud).

    b

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    Default Re: ei and ae

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Why only two? There are four main sorts of a:


    /ə/
    /
    b
    What's that?

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    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: ei and ae

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly T View Post
    What's that?
    It's sometimes called a "schwa" or "central e": Schwa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Incidentally, when I said there were "four main types of a" I wasn't including other sounds that a written "a" can participate in making, such as the /ɔ:/ in "saw", "law" (which rhyme with "sore" and "lore") ... etc., or the written 'diphthongs' that produce a simple vowel (such as "plait", which makes the sound /plt/. A written "a" can signal or contribute to making many possible sounds.

    And, of course, I'm talking about Received British Pronunciation.

    b

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    Default Re: ei and ae

    According to some text book, the grapheme <a> may represent the following phonemes: // (1,565 words in 100,000 running word count) as in "had, /ew/ (1,446 words) as in "make", /Z/ (442) as in "was", /Y/ (322) as in "part", /c/ (4,391) as in "about", /]/ (442) as in "fall".

    In another survey in running word count, it's quoted as <a> representing // in 1,536 words, /ew/ in 650 words, /Z/ 280, /Y/ 280, /c/ 797 & /]/ 219.

    Herere some of the generalizations I know of:

    1. <a> before <ste> usually pronounces as a long sound as in "waste", "haste" and "taste".

    2. <a> represents the /ew/ phoneme in words ending after a final consonant in e as in "cake", "tame" and "lame" . This is the so-called silent e syllable.

    3. <a> usually represents /Y/ before r as in "arm", "car" and "far".

    4. In a V-re (Vowel followed by <re>) syllable, <a> usually represents its 1st short sound // as in "bare" and "fare".

    5. Final <rr> tends to make <a> sound // as in "Harry", "carry" and "tarry".

    6. <a> usually represents /]/ before l as in "fall", "all" and "Paul".

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