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  1. #1
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    Exclamation (ee) (ahy) Y and I Pronunciation

    Hi, first of all, my first language is Portuguese.

    Sometimes I don`t know how to pronounce some ''i'' and ''y'' sounds. I will give some examples:

    Vehicle - Why (ee) and not (ahy) [Vehaycle]???
    Improvise - Why (ahy) and not (ee) [Improveese]??

    Now with ''y'':

    Custody - Why (ee) and not (ahy) [Custodahy]??
    Tylenol - Why (ahy) and not (ee) [Teelenol]??

    I hope you understand my question and can explain me the rules of pronunciation of these words.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    jlinger is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: (ee) (ahy) Y and I Pronunciation

    Generally (but, alas, not always) a vowel is given its long sound by adding a silent E.

    The short sound of I is the one used in BIT. The long sound is the same as the word EYE.

    Ve-hi-cle has no actual or implied silent E in the second syllable (the one with the I in it), so it's short.

    Im-pro-vise has no silent E in the first sylable, so it's short. But there is a silent E in the last syllable, so it's a long I (EYE).

    Final y in a poly-syllable word is always short (I think!). And it's always long in a single syllable word.
    Custody, Happy, but Fly, By, Try, My

    Tylenol is a brand name. They have no rules. That's just "the way it is"

    If there is a silent e in the sylable (implied or actual, meaning it was once there but got dropped by conjugation with other word elements), then the Y is also long, pronounced as EYE. For example: Eye. Or the British Tyre.

    Look at British. Two short I's. Even the shortform: Brit, still short I. If you added a silent e, it would be Brite (bright), with a long I. But then notice Bright itself! No silent E. Damn. There went "The Rule"!

    There are plenty of other exceptions. For example, Microphone. It's a long EYE. And when you shorten the word to its common shortform, Mic, you still pronounce it "Mike" (and therefore it's even become an accepted spelling).
    Last edited by jlinger; 04-May-2009 at 01:17.

  3. #3
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: (ee) (ahy) Y and I Pronunciation

    Final y usually corresponds to a French ending, pronounced /i/.

    First syllable *y usually corresponds to an Anglo-saxon root, pronounced /aI/.

  4. #4
    minduser is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: (ee) (ahy) Y and I Pronunciation

    I`m sorry, but I still do not understand when to use ahy or ee.

    Examples:

    Microphone - Why ahy and not ee??

    Item - Why ahy and not ee??

    Is there any general rule for this words Y and I? This is one of the most common errors for Portuguese speakers.

  5. #5
    jlinger is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: (ee) (ahy) Y and I Pronunciation

    As I said, microphone is one of those exceptions. It probably WAS to be pronounced meecrofone, once, as most of those latin/greek words would use the short I sound, and it just morphed into a long I over time.

    The I in Item is long because it's the only letter/sound in the first syllable: I-tem (if it were It-em it would be a short I). Irate (I-rate) vs Irritate (Ear-uh-tate)

  6. #6
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: (ee) (ahy) Y and I Pronunciation

    The short answer: that's the way it is. There are very few reliable rules about pronunciation in English. (There are, for example, seven different ways of pronouncing '-ough' [in British English, that is].) The only way is to learn them; get a monolingual dictionary with IPA transcription, and use it.

    Bem vindo! If you register (free and quick) you can get email notification of answers to your threads.

    b

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