vowel affected by the consonant following it

Status
Not open for further replies.

michaelfung

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
Can anyone tell me how the pronunciation of a vowel will be affected by the consonant following it? For example, leg is pronounced like 'lig' and egg as 'ig'. (Some native speakers insist that they are pronounced with the e as the e in bed or Ted or FedEx.That means, there is no change.)


To me,the properties of 'e' or 'i' seem to have changed when they are followed by 'k' or 'g' as in 'leg' or 'tick'.

Does this change take place only when 'e' or 'i' is followed by the velar consonants 'g' and 'k'?
 

Niskelton

Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Member Type
Other
The 'e' in leg has the same pronunciation as the 'e' in bed and hen
If you are pronouncing it as 'lig' then you have been misinformed.
E gives an 'i' sound is a small number of words one of them being the word English, another pretty.
Where you usually get the change of sound is when there is a following (consonant - vowel) combination such as mere or penal - in both cases the 'E' here is pronounced as EE (Say of CHEESE to smile)
E can also sound 'er' as in were and her - the e sounds like fern (which rhymes with turn)
and 'ea' as in there which rhymes with care and bear
The really tough part is that there is no easy rule to tell you which is the correct pronunciation - It is a matter of learning and remembering which is which.
E can be a bit of a last resort vowel - When the first dictionaries were being compiled and decisions were made on how to write a word which had been spoken for centuries - the letter E often seems to have been put in just because none of the other vowels seemed to fit.
 

BobK

Harmless drudge
Staff member
Joined
Jul 29, 2006
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
:up: The person who mentioned the /lig/ pronunciation may have been referring to a different dialect. For example, in New Zealand English the short e does have the sound - but that's nothing to do with the following consonant.

b
 

Buddhaheart

Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
The linguistic process of ‘assimilation’ is not uncommon in English. To pronounce the ‘e’ in <leg> & <egg> as the short ‘i’ /w/ / rather than the short ‘e’ /e/ would be either “wrong” as suggested by Niskelton or “dialectal” as indicated by BobK.

It may be helpful to understand how a vowel is affected and annunciated in a particular word using phonics and some syllable division scheme as used by the CEPD (D Jones) or LPD (JC Wells).

The 'e' in ‘leg’ and ‘egg’ is in a closed syllable. It’s pronounced as its short sound /e/. “Mere’ is what we call a vowel-r magic-e or vowel-r silent-e syllable. The final ‘e’ is silent and the other vowel is pronounced with its long sound. ‘Mere’ is therefore transcribed in IPA symbols as /mi:r/. Please note a variant pronunciation of ‘mere’ as /mwr/ (the short sound of ‘i’) as suggested by some dictionaries. ’Penal’ is a 2-syllable word. Using the MOP (maximal Onsets Principle), it’s divided thus ‘pe.nal’. This makes the 1st syllable (‘pe-’) an open syllable. The ‘e’ is uttered with its long sound /i:/. The whole word is therefore pronounced as /0pi+.nəl/ or /0pi+.nəl/. ‘Were’ in our rhotarized dialect is uttered: /wf+r/, /wd+/ or /wg+/.
 

michaelfung

Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2004
Member Type
Student or Learner
Dear Buddhaheart,

Do you mean that no assimilation takes place when pronouncing the word like leg ,egg or tick?

Regards,
michael
 

Buddhaheart

Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2007
Member Type
Retired English Teacher
Native Language
English
Home Country
Canada
Current Location
Canada
I don’t think so, Michael.

Interestingly, I came across another word ‘buffet’ that has its ‘e’ pronounced as a short ‘i’ when used as a verb.
 

peter123

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2007
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Arabic
Home Country
Malaysia
Current Location
Hong Kong
Hi there,

If you know the word 'let', I think you will pronounce 'leg' correctly.

Thanks
pete
 

acorn

Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Member Type
Other
Can anyone tell me how the pronunciation of a vowel will be affected by the consonant following it? For example, leg is pronounced like 'lig' and egg as 'ig'. (Some native speakers insist that they are pronounced with the e as the e in bed or Ted or FedEx.That means, there is no change.)

To me,the properties of 'e' or 'i' seem to have changed when they are followed by 'k' or 'g' as in 'leg' or 'tick'.

Does this change take place only when 'e' or 'i' is followed by the velar consonants 'g' and 'k'?

In some regional varieties of English, [ɛ] and sometimes [æ] become [eɪ] before voiced velar stops: egg and leg are pronounced as [eɪg] and [leɪg]. But the change does not occur before the voiceless [k].
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top