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  1. #1
    Kazuki is offline Senior Member
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    'i' pronunciation

    Hi guys,

    I know that 'i' has two pronunciations in English.The first is [ai] like in 'island-dice' and [i] in 'imitate'

    I wonder if there's a rule for it.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Thumbs up Re: 'i' pronunciation

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazuki View Post
    Hi guys,

    I know that 'i' has two pronunciations in English.The first is [ai] like in 'island-dice' and [i] in 'imitate'

    I wonder if there's a rule for it.

    Thanks.

    There's no rule, though there are certain patterns.
    In comparison to other languages, in English, generally there's no correspondence between letters and sounds. The word English is a good example, because 'E' and 'i' have the same vowel quality (that is, they are pronounced the same).

  3. #3
    hanky is offline Key Member
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    Re: 'i' pronunciation

    Quote Originally Posted by mkss View Post
    There's no rule, though there are certain patterns.
    In comparison to other languages, in English, generally there's no correspondence between letters and sounds. The word English is a good example, because 'E' and 'i' have the same vowel quality (that is, they are pronounced the same).
    Is there any language which doesn't have the correspondence between words and sounds like English?
    Thanks in advance.

  4. #4
    Kazuki is offline Senior Member
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    Re: 'i' pronunciation

    Quote Originally Posted by mkss View Post
    There's no rule, though there are certain patterns.I see.

    In comparison to other languages, in English, generally there's no correspondence between letters and sounds. The word English is a good example, because 'E' and 'i' have the same vowel quality (that is, they are pronounced the same).
    This might be a reason why people sometimes find it hard to learn English. Some of them (probably beginners or those who don't have a smattering of English) might struggle in term of pronunciation as they couldn't figure out what a letter (in this case, it's 'i') might sound in a particular word. For instance, the word 'icicle'.
    We know the exact pronunciation is [ai sikl] but for a learner, he/she might pronounce it as [ai saikl] or [isikl] or [isaikl].
    I don't know what you think but personally I think that a native speaker might encounter the same problem when he/she comes across a "new word".
    Anyway, that's not the main point. I just wanted to know if there's a rule for the 'I' pronunciation and the answer is NO.
    Thanks mkss for your reply.

  5. #5
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: 'i' pronunciation

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    Is there any language which doesn't have the correspondence between words and sounds like English?
    Thanks in advance.
    I know what you mean; sometimes the correspondence between sounds and spellings is hard to learn. But I don't think that English is either uniquely illogical or uniquely inconsistent.

    Many of my students claim that in their language there is a 1:1 correspondence between signs and sounds; and I don't know enough to argue against them. But I suspect that most languages are a bit inconsistent in some way - it's just that their speakers didn't have to learn the exceptions; they simply acquired them.

    Take an apparently consistent language like Italian; there are two ways of pronouncing "-ezzo" - for example mezzo is pronounced with a [dz] sound between the vowels*, while prezzo is pronounced with a [ts]. My ear isn't acute enough to hear it, but I imagine the difference in voicing causes assimilation in the two vowels as well. Italians don't have to learn this, or the explanation (based on the Latin words medium and pretium); but the rest of us do. (Well, we don't have to learn the bit about Latin, but I find it easier that way. )

    So I try not to underestimate the difficulty for a non-native in learning our sounds; and it's true that even a native speaker gets it wrong sometimes. But - while English does have a lot of apparent inconsistencies (more than many other languages) - I don't think it is at all unique in this respect.

    b

    * The loanword "mezzo-soprano" in English ignores this distinction, and has a /ts/ - no idea why; I imagine we just mispronounce it that way because it's easier.

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    Thumbs up Re: 'i' pronunciation

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    I know what you mean; sometimes the correspondence between sounds and spellings is hard to learn. But I don't think that English is either uniquely illogical or uniquely inconsistent.

    Many of my students claim that in their language there is a 1:1 correspondence between signs and sounds; and I don't know enough to argue against them. But I suspect that most languages are a bit inconsistent in some way - it's just that their speakers didn't have to learn the exceptions; they simply acquired them.

    Take an apparently consistent language like Italian; there are two ways of pronouncing "-ezzo" - for example mezzo is pronounced with a [dz] sound between the vowels*, while prezzo is pronounced with a [ts]. My ear isn't acute enough to hear it, but I imagine the difference in voicing causes assimilation in the two vowels as well. Italians don't have to learn this, or the explanation (based on the Latin words medium and pretium); but the rest of us do. (Well, we don't have to learn the bit about Latin, but I find it easier that way. )

    So I try not to underestimate the difficulty for a non-native in learning our sounds; and it's true that even a native speaker gets it wrong sometimes. But - while English does have a lot of apparent inconsistencies (more than many other languages) - I don't think it is at all unique in this respect.

    b

    * The loanword "mezzo-soprano" in English ignores this distinction, and has a /ts/ - no idea why; I imagine we just mispronounce it that way because it's easier.
    My first language is Spanish and there is a one-to-one correspondence between sounds and letters. I learnt phonetics from a book that contrasted both languages (Spanish & English), defining the English phonetic system in those terms.

  7. #7
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: 'i' pronunciation

    Quote Originally Posted by mkss View Post
    My first language is Spanish and there is a one-to-one correspondence between sounds and letters. I learnt phonetics from a book that contrasted both languages (Spanish & English), defining the English phonetic system in those terms.
    Of the languages I've met, Spanish is the only one that has that correspondence. Interestingly, I did a course on Dyslexia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia a few years ago, and a teacher on it mentioned a Spanish student she had who turned out to be dyslexic. In England, children with dyslexia (nowadays) are diagnosed in their first few months. This man was in his forties. The condition hadn't held him back in his Spanish education, because using Spanish the problem of mapping from letters to sounds is so much easier.

    b

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