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  1. #1
    tomas_xc is offline Newbie
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    Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    Hi, guys.
    I am having trouble with those vowel sounds:
    /ɛ:/ vs. // (e.g. bed vs. bad)
    I can't distinguish/pronounce them (especially the // sound). They are too similar to me. I speak Brazilian Portuguese as first language.

    Another thing, the // sounds from the words bad and dad seem a little different to me (on dad it sounds more closer to /ɛ:/)

    I would like to know some techniques to improve my skills on producing and distinguishing these sounds. Does anybody know where I can get mouth diagrams of these sounds?

    P.S.: Sorry for the bad English. Feel free to correct me.
    Last edited by tomas_xc; 06-Jan-2009 at 15:41. Reason: My mistake, it was /ɛ:/, not /ɜ:/

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is online now Harmless drudge
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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    Quote Originally Posted by tomas_xc View Post
    Hi, guys.
    I am having trouble with those vowel sounds:
    /ɜ:/ vs. // (e.g. bed vs. bad)
    I can't distinguish/pronounce them (especially the // sound). They are too similar to me. I speak Brazilian Portuguese as first language.

    Another thing, the // sounds from the words bad and dad seem a little different to me (on dad it sounds more closer to /ɜ:/)

    I would like to know some techniques to improve my skills on producing and distinguishing these sounds. Does anybody know where I can get mouth diagrams of these sounds?

    P.S.: Sorry for the bad English. Feel free to correct me.
    Which transcription method do you use? I ask because you seem to be making a very specific mistake. The traditional phonemic transcription of "bed" is /bed/ (slightly misleading, as the /e/ doesn't represent a cardinal [e]). The phonemic transcription /bɜ:d/ represents the English "bird" - though not in any dialect that does anything consonantal with the R sound. You can download an interactive phonemic chart from Phonemic chart | Teaching English | British Council | BBC . The same site must have diagrams of mouth positions.

    As to your second paragraph, I'm surprised. One would expect the [b] to close the // vowel more than the [d]. (You can hear this quite clearly if you can stand to watch Mary Poppins - when Julie Andrews sings 'Feed the birds, tuppence a bEg' -in which she's advertising the cost of bird food: '2d [that is, less than 1p] a bag')

    b

  3. #3
    tomas_xc is offline Newbie
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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    First, thanks for the reply.

    I use the IPA, it was my mistake. I was using the IPA Typewriter (from the topic "Writing Phonetic Symbol"), but I couldn't find the /ɛ/ symbol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C6%90_(IPA)). It seems that the symbol /e/ is sometimes used to represent this sound instead of /ɛ/.

    Well, in listening the sounds from that Phonemic chart, I could distinguish these sounds. But I still can't pronounce them and distinguish, so I guess I need mouth diagrams of these sounds. Actually I've found mouth diagrams, but I still don't know if I am pronouncing them correctly. I've uploaded two words (bad and bed) pronounced by me, and I was hoping somebody to listen it and tell me if I am pronouncing them correctly. Here is the link (Zippyshare.com - BadvsBed.mp3). Bad is pronounced first.

    Another thing, I am learning the American English pronunciation (actually, I am studying both kinds: American and British) and I don't know if there's some difference between the pronunciation of the // sound by American and British people.

  4. #4
    BobK's Avatar
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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    Quote Originally Posted by tomas_xc View Post
    ...
    Well, in listening the sounds from that Phonemic chart, I could distinguish these sounds. But I still can't pronounce them and distinguish, so I guess I need mouth diagrams of these sounds. Actually I've found mouth diagrams, but I still don't know if I am pronouncing them correctly. I've uploaded two words (bad and bed) pronounced by me, and I was hoping somebody to listen it and tell me if I am pronouncing them correctly. Here is the link (Zippyshare.com - BadvsBed.mp3). Bad is pronounced first.

    Another thing, I am learning the American English pronunciation (actually, I am studying both kinds: American and British) and I don't know if there's some difference between the pronunciation of the // sound by American and British people.
    I thought after I'd replied that, coming from Brazil, you'd probably be more interested in American English. The way // sounds is different, but not very different.

    I'm afraid I can't follow that link at the moment.

    b

    PS What I meant to say was that that British Council site (well, at least that interactive chart) gives only the sounds of British English.
    Last edited by BobK; 06-Jan-2009 at 20:49. Reason: Added PS

  5. #5
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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    tomas_xc:

    I actually have a pronunciation website and your question here interested me. I made a video/blog entry in response. You can view it here.

    The website, RachelsEnglish.com, has a guide, with a page explaining each sound, as well as a blog, where I tackle issues such as this vowel comparison.

    I hope you find this helpful!

  6. #6
    tomas_xc is offline Newbie
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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    Quote Originally Posted by RachelsEnglish View Post
    tomas_xc:

    I actually have a pronunciation website and your question here interested me. I made a video/blog entry in response. You can view it here.

    The website, RachelsEnglish.com, has a guide, with a page explaining each sound, as well as a blog, where I tackle issues such as this vowel comparison.

    I hope you find this helpful!
    Thank you! Your website is what I was looking for. It is very helpful, since you give a very detailed description. And the videos about the other sounds are very helpful too. Congratulations!

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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    Thank you thank you! My email is on the website, you can use it if you have any questions in the future.
    Rachel

  8. #8
    white82 is offline Newbie
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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    RachelsEnglish.. your web site is awesome. so helpfull!!
    some here with tomas_xc. that's I was looking for !!
    thank you!!!!

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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    @White82
    Thanks so much! I am glad to know it is helpful...

    It's a very new site and I am doing my best to let people know about it. If anyone ever gets the chance to post a link to it on a forum like this in their native language, that would be such a helpful way to reach people that I can't reach!

  10. #10
    CJ 4 life is offline Newbie
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    Re: Trouble with bed vs. bad (vowel sounds)

    Quote Originally Posted by RachelsEnglish View Post
    @White82
    Thanks so much! I am glad to know it is helpful...

    It's a very new site and I am doing my best to let people know about it. If anyone ever gets the chance to post a link to it on a forum like this in their native language, that would be such a helpful way to reach people that I can't reach!
    Your site is great, girl, I just checked it out! I'll let a friend of mine know about it! Just one thing to help you improve your teaching: I read in your site that the "ah" sound in "father" and the "uh" in "cut" are both back, but then you say that the tongue rests at the bottom of the mouth in both sounds..... so they should be central vowels, don't you think? I think you need to change the IPA transcriptions. Let me know!!

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