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Thread: Vowel sound.

    • Join Date: Jan 2007
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    Vowel sound.

    I would like to know what is exactly a vowel sound and what is the diference with a consonant sound.



  1. BobK's Avatar
    Harmless drudge
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
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    • Join Date: Jul 2006
    • Posts: 16,037

    Re: Vowel sound.

    It's all to do with the vocal cords. If they are vibrating and there is no restriction on the flow of air through your mouth, that is a vowel; for example /aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa/ (that's a very long one; the length of a vowel sound is restricted only by the capacity of your lungs - when an Argentinian football commentator says someone's scored a goal, the vowel sound can last as much as a minute.) English vowel sounds are usually shorter, though if you hear a Sergeant Major giving orders to soldiers on parade you'll hear vowel sounds lasting several seconds.

    When the air flowing through the mouth is restricted or blocked, you get a consonant; there are many sorts of consonant, but most of them come in two forms - voiced and unvoiced. Again, the vocal cords make the difference; put your finger on your voice-box (the larynx or Adam's apple) as you're saying /ssssszzzzzzssssss/. You'll feel the voicing (vibrations) switching off and on (off for the /ssss/ and on for the /zzzz/).


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