Questions Concerning the Pronunciation of Vowels

rishenhoo

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I have some questions concerning the pronunciation of vowels in syllables, because I want to offer others more accurate phonetic notations of English words.

First, concerning (Jones-Gimson) /ɪə, ʊə/ (and their Kenyon-Knott counterpart /ɪr, ʊr/). When I heard the pronunciation of these phonemes by English speakers (especially American English speakers), they actually sound like /i:ər, u:ər/-- tense /i/ and /u/ used in these phonemes, rather than lax /ɪ/ and /ʊ/. But in textbooks I encountered, no matter British or American version, lax /ɪ/ and /ʊ/ are always used in phonetic notations. I guess that Jones-Gimson has an idea that “the length of diphthong equals to twice in length of monophthongs”, therefore the “shorter” vowels always get selected. However, nowadays we have known that the differences between “longer” and “shorter” pure vowels lies not only in the length but also in the pronunciation itself. Now I want to choose pronunciation respelling over IPA, I have to make sure: whether it is proper to transcribe them as (for example) “-eer” rather than “-ir”, to convey the “/i:ər/” sound.

Secondly, concerning the pronunciation of the letter “e” in non-stressed syllables. We have learnt that “e” has an open-syllable sound /i:/ and a closed-syllable sound /ɛ/. It doesn’t have the sound (lax) /ɪ/ as the letter “i” in (stressed) closed syllables. However, when the letter “e” occurred in non-stressed syllables I always see the lax /ɪ/ uses to represent it in IPA notations. Such an “excite” /ɪkˈsaɪt/. So I am confused by this usage. How can “e” also be pronounced like “i”? And if I choose pronunciation respelling, can I use “ee” which represents /i/ rather than /ɪ/ to stand for non-stressed “e”?

Thanks for help.
 

Tdol

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If you choose to spell something differently, you can choose anything you want, but will people understand you? When I lived in Cambodia, I transcribed words the way I heard them. There is a common system for Roman alphabet transcription, which can be followed. It is almost certainly easier to follow that than my version.
 

rishenhoo

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“Why do you want to choose a potentially ambiguous system in preference to a very sound (no pun intended) system?”

I know IPA is more accurate than pronunciation respelling. However in my country there is a ubiquitous problem: the notation used in textbooks and dictionaries is generally Jones-Gimson notation, which represents a kind of non-rhotic accent (presumably British “Received Pronunciation”). But for the reason I’m not quite sure about, the English classes all over the country teach a kind of (really “a kind of”) rhotic accent. The less serious problem is that our accent is not idiomatic by every standard of every native English pronunciation. The more serious problem is that the students have been misled in understanding of the IPA letter /ə/: they (including many teacher indeed) think every occurrence of /ə/ represents a rhotic; they read not only /aɪˈdiɚ/, /ˈkwaɪɚt/ but also /ˈtʃaɪnɚ/, /ˈkænɚdɚ/ etc. Therefore I want to switch to some alternative transcription system that is less misleading, even though it’s less accurate or scientific. That’s why I want to make sure which symbol represents which sound in the alternative transcription.

The pronunciation of that sound varies from speaker to speaker, even within one dialect of English. It can even vary within one person's idiolect. It is not easy to distinguish exactly the sound produced in unstressed syllables such as the first syllable of 'excite', /e/, /ə/ or /ɪ/.

If unstressed vowel can be any one of similar sounds, how about the /i/ in “deer”? It’s in a stressed syllable, therefore I want to know which /i/ is the best representation, or [ɪ]?
 
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