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    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 12
    #1

    Smile Phonetic sounds

    Hello teacher,

    Im trying to improve my English pronunciation but find it difficult to understand why certain words sound different when spelt almost the same. For eg.

    Why do the words: bead, beak, beam, bean have the same sound yet when words like: deaf, dead, read (past tense) sound different?

    also:

    put, pull, push all have the "u" sound yet words like:
    pub, pug, pup, pump all have an "a" sound.

    Very frustrating not knowing why this is. Any help will be much appreciated.

    Regards
    Carlos


    • Join Date: May 2008
    • Posts: 810
    #2

    Re: Phonetic sounds

    Unfortunately this is one of the problems with English.

    Spanish is a very phonetic language and therefore the words often sound as they're spelt, so I can understand why this must be frustrating.

    One horrendous example is the English ough.

    Though (oh)
    Enough (uf)
    Plough (oww)
    Cough (off)
    Through (oo)
    Borough (er)

    But remember that all languages present difficulties. You just have to catagorically remember the pronunciation of these problem words.

    At least you don't have to worry about gender when dealing with nouns!


    • Join Date: Feb 2008
    • Posts: 12
    #3

    Re: Phonetic sounds

    Thank you so much for your help. So I guess there are no rules, its more of a matter of learning the sounds with practice.

    Yes, in Spanish we dont really have this problem although we do have the gender which is a problem for many students.

    Thanks again
    Carlos

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    #4

    Re: Phonetic sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Ingles_4u View Post
    Hello teacher,

    Im trying to improve my English pronunciation but find it difficult to understand why certain words sound different when spelt almost the same. For eg.

    Why do the words: bead, beak, beam, bean have the same sound yet when words like: deaf, dead, read (past tense) sound different?

    also:

    put, pull, push all have the "u" sound yet words like:
    pub, pug, pup, pump all have an "a" sound.

    Very frustrating not knowing why this is. Any help will be much appreciated.

    Regards
    Carlos
    Wikipedia is a good place to start if you want to trace the changes in English from Old English through Middle and onto Modern English. That will certainly help to explain why this phenomenon occurs, but it is not likely to help your pronunciation much. It won't give you many useful rules. But it might ease your frustration about not knowing why.

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    #5

    Re: Phonetic sounds

    English is not a pure language but a mixture of French and Latin with Saxon and Viking languages, so there are different spelling systems at work. In the example above of 'gh', the problem arose as we had a letter in our alphabet that the Normans, who invaded in 1066, didn't have. It looked a bit like 'g', so they started writing it that way.

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