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    #1

    typs of sounds for 'u'

    Hello everyone,
    I was wondering if I could bother you with this silliness:
    There are the rules for different pronunciations for the letter 'u'.
    /ʌ/, /ju:/ and /ʊ/
    Am I correct to believe that between consonants 'u' is pronounced
    /ʌ/, and /ʊ/ 'but' 'pull' ? But why? Does the word stressed has something to do with it? Why 'u' is pronounced /ʌ/ and why /ʊ/ ?

    Another question I as well have to ask:
    The words ' student, uniform, university, music, curious' are as well between consonants I believe, which rule makes the 'u' sound
    /ju:/ ?

    I'm totally confused about that, can anyone unfold the logic behind all that? As we say in my country: '"to find out where the dog is buried and who put it there"

    Thank you very much in advanced




  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: typs of sounds for 'u'

    I am afraid there are no clear rules on the pronunciation of the letter u.

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: typs of sounds for 'u'

    Quote Originally Posted by elenah View Post
    Hello everyone,
    I was wondering if I could bother you with this silliness:
    There are the rules for different pronunciations for the letter 'u'.
    /ʌ/, /ju:/ and /ʊ/
    Am I correct to believe that between consonants 'u' is pronounced
    /ʌ/, and /ʊ/ 'but' 'pull' ? But why? Does the word stressed has something to do with it? Why 'u' is pronounced /ʌ/ and why /ʊ/ ?

    Another question I as well have to ask:
    The words ' student, uniform, university, music, curious' are as well between consonants I believe, which rule makes the 'u' sound
    /ju:/ ?

    I'm totally confused about that, can anyone unfold the logic behind all that? As we say in my country: '"to find out where the dog is buried and who put it there"

    Thank you very much in advance*

    You are perhaps forgetting two things: 1) English has no native alphabet, so we use the Roman alphabet, introduced to us by the Normans. Latin (Rome) had 5 vowel sounds, of 2 lengths, or 10 vowel phonemes. English, depending on the region, has nearly twenty vowel sounds, and length also varies. 2) The Great Vowel Shift changed the way these are pronounced, and there are particular rules which form the subject of many PhD theses.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: typs of sounds for 'u'

    Also, be aware that in some dialects, the vowel sounds differ. 'Cup' is usually /kʌp/, though in Scouse, around Liverpool in England, they say /kʊp/, as in "a cʊp of tea and a bʊttered bʊn" as exemplified by the recently late and lamented Cilla Black, from whom I learnt this during my childhood TV watching.

  4. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: typs of sounds for 'u'

    The only general guideline for vowel sound that I know like this, whatever the region, concerns vowel length and depends upon the vowel's position in a word. This applies to all vowels, not just "u", and can help when trying to pronounce new words. It will not give you the precise type of sound, just whether the vowel sound is short or long, which is sometimes a good start. It is what I was taught in school many years ago.

    If a vowel is followed by a double consonant, only consonants, or a single consonant and no further vowel then usually that vowel sound is short.

    If a vowel is followed by a single consonant and another vowel, then that first vowel will usually have a longer sound.

    e.g.

    But xxxxxxx(short "u")
    Butter xxxx(short "u")
    Button xxxx(short "u")
    Burnt xxxxx(short "u")
    Prune xxxxx(long "u")
    Cut xxxxxxx(short "u")
    Cute xxxxxx(long "u")
    Stud xxxxxx(short "u")
    Studentxxxx(long "u")
    Uncompromising (short "u")
    Uniform xxxxx(long "u")
    Universityxxx(long "u")
    Music xxxxxx(long "u")
    Curious xxxx(long "u")
    Cur xxxx xxx(short "u")
    Curtain xxxx(short "u")
    Curatorxxxx(long "u")
    Pull xxxxxxx(short "u")
    Fun xxxxxxx(short "u")
    Funeral xxxx(long "u")
    Pun xxxxxxx(short "u")
    Punic xxxxx(long "u")
    Punnet xxx(short "u")
    Tun x xxxx(short "u")
    Tune xxxxx(long "u")
    Tunic xxxx(long "u")
    Flute xxxx(long "u")
    Mutt xxxx (short "u")
    Mute xxxxx(long "u")
    Mutationx (long "u")
    Multiply xx(short "u")

    However, as usual with English, no doubt there are numerous words which don't comply with this.
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 21-Aug-2015 at 22:31. Reason: Reformatting.

  5. Piscean's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: typs of sounds for 'u'

    I don't entirely agree with Eckaslike on two points.

    1. While the vowels he describes as 'short "u" (/ʌ/) are indeed shorter than those he describes as 'long '"u" (/u:/), they are, more importantly, different in quality. Indeed, many American writers do not use the /:/ (the sign indicating length) in their transcription of the long vowels. There also non-phonemic /u/, the short vowl we hear in stimulus and to Afrca,

    2. The vowel /ɜ:/ of burnt, cur, curtain, etc is a different vowel again, and it is a long one.xx

  6. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: typs of sounds for 'u'

    While 'uniform' and 'university' seem to give a pattern, they don't. When 'un' means 'not, as in "unidentified, unintelligible", the vowel is never /ju/.
    On an unrelated note, to me, /ʊ/ and /ʌ/ are equally short.

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