The Sound and Style of American English

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Course #2

LESSON 1: SEPARATING THE HARD & SOFT VOWELS

Dr.David Alan Stern


[LANGUAGE NOTE: Second language English speakers form almost any language have at least some trouble separating the hard and soft vowels in each of the following pairs. Speakers from ROMANCE LANGUAGES have particular trouble with the soft forms. Speakers from RUSSIAN and other SLAVIC LANGUAGES and speakers of YIDDISH and HEBREW have more trouble with the hard forms. BUT -- these pairs represent one of the most important pronunciation skills for any second language English speakers.]

Listen closely to the instructions in lesson One of the tape. It will explain how to create the differences between the hard and soft sounds in each of four pairs of vowels. Each of the hard sounds has at least some of the characteristics of a diphthong -- (1) there is more rear-tongue movement, (2) there is a second stage or "echo" on the vowel, and (3) there is a slight downward pitch glide. The soft vowel in each pair is short, stays on one pitch, and has little or no movement in the back of the tongue.

SECTION #1: HARD E and SOFT I {Counter #_______}

L1/S1-A: "The Hard E"

Phonetic Symbol : [ i ]

COMMON SPELLINGS :

"ee" as in TREE, SEEM, EEL
"e+consonant+e" as in CONCRETE, SUPREME, SCENE
"ea" as in MEAT, PEAS, EAN
"y" as in MARY, HAPPILY, ENVY

OCCASIONAL SPELLINGS:

"ie" as in YIELD, IECES
"ei" as in CEILING
"i" as in SKI, INTRIGUE, MACHINE

EACH, EVEN, SEE, KEY, GREEN, TREE
HE, SHE, WE, ME, BE
VERY, HAPPY, COUNTRY, SOFTLY, QUICKLY
EEL, MEAL, SEAL, DEAL, APPEAL, REAL, WHEEL


- THE GREEN CAR WENT SPEEDING ON THE FREEWAY.
- SHE WAS HAPPY TO BE EATING CHEESE.
- HE HURT HIS KNEE WHILE SKIING VERY RAPIDLY.
- DON'T TEASE ME; MY MONEY IS REAL.
- I'M VERY SORRY YOU DON'T AGREE WITH ME.

Now here are additional worlds and sentences containing this hard sound which are not recorded on the tape.

eachseeteachfleecekeyme
dealequaleagerpoliceknee green
agree feedeasyuniquemealtree
cheat eitheregoceilingpleasesupreme
free speakbeneedlefreewayeaves
machine teafeeteammoneyEden
achieve scenekeensqueezeenoughpieces
yield beat meatstreamesteembeak
intrigue need neat jubileefever three


- Please cease to creep through the Garden of Eden.
- Meat and cheese were served under the tree.
- He twisted his knee while skiing fleetly down the peak.
- Steve went to pieces because he was green with envy.
- The speed demon careened off the freeway.
- He teased the eager Marine with sneezing powder.
- Meat, peas, and beans each provide protein.
- He achieves intrigue by agreeing to speak Japanese.
- She cheated me by dealing thirteen threes.
- The reason for ceasing to speak was the parrot's beak.
- Jean and the team serenely jumped onto the beam.

L1/S1-B: "THE SOFT I"

Phonetic Symbol : [ I ]

COMMON SPELLINGS:

"i" as in IT, SIT, STILL, IN, SISTER, VISIT, INFANT

OCCASIONAL SPELLING:

"y" as in "symbol" and "typical"

IT, IS, SISTER, VISIT, TIP, BIG, DIFFERENT
IN, INSIDE, INTEREST, HINT, HIMSELF, WINTER
ILL, SILK, HILL, BILL, FILL, UNTIL, PILL
- GO INSIDE AND SIT STILL.
- THIS WINTER WILL BE DIFFERENT.
- BILL VISITED HIS RICH SISTER.
- PICK HIM UP ON FIFTH AVENUE.
- WE LIFTED THE INFANT OUT OF HIS CRIB.

Now, here are additional word and sentence drills for this vowel which are not recorded on the tape.

insidemillpickphysicalwindcity
stillhillcymbalswittyillsister
flipexhibitdisappearzipperincomelift
historylinenwinterhint differentmistake
assistrichinterestpyramidbrittleexhibit
pitchinfantinvisiblequiverbiglive
willtriplickcribvisit tickle


- Winter differs incredibly in its impact on individuals.
- The inspector charged interest on Wilma's income tax.
- The clinician instantly investigated the infant's itch.
- Sit inside the pavilion instead of in the sun.
- The chicken committed itself to the interest of dinner.
- I intend to split the pit in the middle of the cherry.
- I instantly intended to imply that you were ignorant.
- The infant twitched and gripped the crib.
- Inspector Smith hinted at mistakes in the investigation.
- Jill will tickle her big sister immediately.
- Pick him up at the liquor store on Fifth Street.

L1/S1-C: CONTRASTING "HARD E" and "SOFT I"

In this "contrast" section, for this and the three other pairs, I will put hard brackets [ ] around the hard vowel and soft brackets { } around the soft vowel.

-- S{I}T {I}N THAT S[EA]T BY THE W{I}NDOW.
-- SH[E] BROKE HER H[EE]L WHILE CLIMBING THE H{I}LL.
-- THE T[EA]M GR{I}NNED AFTER S[EE]ING THE GR[EE]N F[IE]LD.

Now, here are additional word drills for this vowel contrast which are not recorded on the tape.

[ ]{ }[ ]{ }
seepsippeakpick
heelhillkeelkill
mealmillNeal nil
realrillwheelwill
feel filleel ill
peelpillsealsill
leap lipcheapchip

SECTION #2: "HARD A" and "SOFT E" {Counter #.............}

L1/S2-A: The "HARD A"

Phonetic Symbol: [ ei ]

COMMON SPELLINGS:
"a+consonant+e" as in TAKE, SAGE
"ei" as in WEIGH, NEIGHBOR
"ay" as in MAY, DAY, WAY
"ai" as in AIM, AID, FAIL, MAIL
OCCASIONAL SPELLINGS:
"a" as in AVIATOR, APRIL
"ei" as in EIGHT

[LANGUAGE NOTE: More than any other vowel in human speech, the hard A is susceptible to upward gliding lilt. This is especially true for speakers of Hungarian, Finnish, Polish, and many of the languages of Africa and the Asian sub-continent. Do not permit this diphthong to slide up in pitch. ]

AIM, DAY, SAY
ALE, MALE, SAIL
- TODAY'S DATE IS APRIL THE EIGHTH.
- THE FREIGHT TRAIN TRAVELED AWAY FROM THE STATION.
- STAY AWAY FROM THE TRAIL WHEN IT IS RAINING.

Now, here are additional word and sentence drills for this hard vowel which are not recorded on the tape.

weight playerneighboraviatorframeale
chasedfaceinstigateailinghazeate
rainfallmaybefailfreight lakeace
displaywaywardmaleApriljadeape
fatefulfray inflameKatelaborbase
babyhasteblamedtrailmaillace
takeagedamejailer nasalaim
greatsafetyfailureMacy'snationpage
camefate mistakewhaleplaguesage


- A great April shower came our way today.
- They paid the price for delaying the instant replay.
- The ailing aviator chased the victory for its own sake.
- They blamed the dame with the famous face.
- The able often stray in this fateful age.
- Make haste; delay may instigate a fray.
- Statesmen hasten to awaken the nation these days.
- I may portray Dorian gray on the stage in a play.
- Nathan felt the weight of the fateful delay in rainfall.
- My real estate agent has a gabled house on three acres.
- Eight whales sprayed water as they came safely away.

L1/S2-B: THE "SOFT E"

Phonetic Symbol: [ e ]

COMMON SPELLINGS:
"e" as in TWENTY, ENTER, SELL
OCCASIONAL SPELLINGS:
"ea" as in SPREAD, SWEAT "ai" as in SAID
"a" as in ANY, MANY "ie" as in FRIEND

GET, READY, AGAIN, EVERY, ENEMY, FRIEND, BED, GET, READY, TEN, SENT
SELL, WELL, BELL, TELL
- MY FRIEND IS RESTING IN BED.
- ED SENT TEN LETTERS TO THE ENEMY.
- GET THE ROOM READY BEFORE THE DEADLINE.
- THE SENATOR MEANT EVERYTHING HE SAID YESTERDAY.
- THE GENERAL SLEPT IN HIS HEADQUARTERS.

Now, here are additional word and sentence drills for this soft vowel which are not recorded on the tape.

twentyembrace semesterfence red nest
enter tenth emulate friend Ben get
effort fresh deadline left Ken legs
net center federal mental Ted bed
men celebrate tender wreck gem stem
whenmemory shelf spread jet ebb
render mentor crescent sweat wet eggs
element western credit electionwell bent
century letter dilemma intellect sell test


- Ed rented the penthouse at an exorbitant price.
- Ten and ten eventually get you twenty.
- I meant every word I said in the elementary section.
- Ben was a general from several sections of Tennessee.
- Don't lose your temper when I enter the room.
- The song was rendered by men who twenty cents.
- He was especially edgy after the separation.
- I can't accept this mental dilemma.
- My ex-friend wrecked the mended fences.
- Jeff's hot temper tested his self-confidence.
- September seventh was a red-letter day.

L1/S2-C: Contrasting "Hard A" and "Soft E"

-- [EI]GHT M{E}N CAN'T G{E}T THROUGH THE G[A]TE.
- D{E}NNIS IS T[A]KING A T{E}CHNICAL COURSE.
- M{E}L IS A M[AI]L ARRIER.
-- S[AI]L THE BOAT OUT W{E}ST, AND THEN S{E}LL IT.

Now, here are additional word and sentence drills contrasting the two vowels in Pair #2.

{ } [ ] { } [ ] { } [ ]
led laid tread trade Ken cane
tell tail sell sail Mel mail
bet bait den Dane get gate
led laid men main tech take
wes waste shed shade wed wade
bell bail hell hail fell fail

SECTION #3: "HARD OO" and "SOFT oo" {Counter #______}

L1/S3-A: THE "HARD OO"

Phonetic symbol: [ u ]

COMMON SPELLINGS:
"oo" as in SMOOTH, SPOON, COOL
"ew" as in BREW, THREW, SEWER
"u" as in SUSAN, STUDIO, RUBY, TRUTH
OCCASIONAL SPELLINGS:
"o+consonant+e" as in MOVE PROVE
"ui" as in JUICE "ue" as in BLUE, DUE
"o" as in WHO "ou" as in COUPE, TOUPEE

SMOOTH, SPOON, BOOT, MOON, TRUTH
SCHOOL, COOL, RULE, FOOLISH
- IT'S TRUE THAT THE NEW SCHOOL IS A GLOOMY PLACE.
- HE CLEANS THE STUDIO EVERY TUESDAY AT NOON.
- SHE LIKES THE VIEW OF THE MOON ON JUNE NIGHTS.
- DRINK FRUIT JUICE WHEN YOU HAVE THE FLUE.
- JUDY WAS VERY RUDE TO SUSAN.

Now practice these additional words and sentences for the "Hard OO" vowel which are not recorded on the tape.

spoon prunes brew roof
smooth boost flute who
sewer moon rumor through
blue fruit prove room
coupons gloomy true shoe
prove threw truth food
plumage school rude boot
troupe ruby pool cool
bloom juicy loose move


- I always knew that prunes grew under the blue moon.
- The gloomy June moon is moving foolishly.
- At two past noon, I heard hooves on the roof.
- It's true that Sue proves school is gloomy.
- Give the student a boost with your boot.
- Rumor has it that raccoons buy fruit with coupons.
- Newman got juiced because Stu threw brew into the soup.
- After his review, the pupil developed a loose screw.
- Judy was rude to Susan.
- The crew brewed the stew for two hours.

L1/S3-B: THE "SOFT oo"

Phonetic Symbol: [ U ]

COMMON SPELLING:
"oo" as in WOOD, FOOT, TOOK
"u" as in BULLET, FULL, BUSHEL, PUT
OCCASIONAL SPELLINGS:
"o" as in WOLF, WOMAN
"ou" as in WOULD, COULD, SHOULD

COULD, GOOD, SHOULD, WOODEN, FOOT, GOOD-BYE, WOLF, TOOK, LOOK
PULL, BULL, FULL, BULLET
- HE TOOK A LOOK UNDER THE CAR'S HOOD.
- THEY PULLED THE WOLF OUT OF THE WOODS.
- THERE ART GOOD BOOKS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY.
- THE BUTCHER'S STEAKS LOOKED REALLY GOOD.
- DR. GOODMAN TOOK A BULLET OUT OF THE MAN'S FOOT.

And some additional drills for this soft vowel:

wooden bullet boulevard could hook
careful bullion bully nook pull
helpful forsook butcher push bush
pulpit boogie booklet wood put
Pullman goodness rookie full foot
ambush hooded footwear soot good
should crook woman took book
good-bye sugar brook bull wolf
bushel pudding cushion hood good
couldn't wouldn't stood Ludwig look


- We pulled the wolf from the woods to the boulevard.
- The butcher's hook took out the sooty bully.
- Dr. Goodman took the bullet from the rookie's foot.
- Woody stood up wearing cushioned footwear.
- I understood there was a good book in the library.
- Brooks was hoodwinked from the pulpit by Mr. Cook.
- Only tourists put bushels of soot in the brook.
- Captain Hook ate a bushel of cookies.
- I couldn't have understood the crook's motives.
- The Pullman conductor took a look at his ticket book.

L1/S3-C: CONTRASTING "HARD OO" and "SOFT oo"

-- WE P{U}LLED HIM OUT OF THE SWIMMING P[OO]L.
-- HE P{U}T HIS F{OO}T IN THE N[EW] B[OO]T.
-- THE W{O}MAN SAID G{OO}D-BYE TO HER ST[U]DENTS..
-- HE C{OU}LDN'T PR[O]VE THAT THE N[EW]S WAS TR[UE].

And here are some additional contrasts between the hard and soft vowels which aren't recorded on the tape.

[ ] { } [ ] { }
wooed wood cooed could
pool pull fool full
who'd hood shoed should
stewed stood Luke look

PAIR #4: "HARD O" "SOFT AW" {Counter #........}

L 1/ S 4-A: "THE "HARD O"

Phonetic symbol: [ ou ]

COMMON SPELLINGS:
"o" as in OVER, OCEAN, NOTION, POLAR, TOMATO
"o+consonat+e" as in WROTE, QUOTE,,SMOKE
" ow" as in ROW, BOWL, GROW
OCCASIONAL SPELLINGS:
"ew" an in SEW "os " as in SOAK, LOAF
" oe " as in WOEFUL "ough" as in FURLOUGH

GO, HOME, MOTION, OVER, OCEAN, NO, GROW, ECHO, PHONE, NOBODY
GOAL, ROLE, MOLD, COLD
- I HOPE I CAN GO HOME TOMORROW.
- SHE ROWED THE BOAT OVER THE OCEAN.
- HE WROTE HOME HOPING FOR A BIG LOAN.

Now some additional drills for the "Hard O" vowel:

romance notion phone grow loan
lowly co-host oaken legato hope
furlough ghost slowly sew solo
apropos grocery ocean window soak
romance dough staccato bold loan
photo blown moment loaf row
wrote tomato motion loco flow
polar bloated don't moan over
pathos woeful float cone echo


- Long ago people slept on the cold earth.
- Slowly the ocean rolled toward the row of homes.
- The oboe and celled sat alone, echoing tone for tone.
- He was bloated after eating a roast and a tomato.
- Of all the folks I know, he is the most hopeful.
- The rowboat slowly floated in the ocean.
- I told Joan that the snow is flown in from Ohio.
- Smoke rolled out the open end of the hotel window
- Joan wrote to Joe, hoping for romance.
- I told the owner of the boat to be bold.
- I took the dough out of the bowl to make the loaf.

L 1/ S 4-ÚB: "THE "SOFT AW"

Phonetic symbol: [ ?]

COMMON SPELLINGS:
"a (1) " as in WALK ALL MALL
" au" as in SAUCE APPLAUD LAUNDRY CAUSE
" aw" as in AWFUL FLAN JAW LAWN
OCCASIONAL SPELLINGS:
"O" as in CLOTH, OFF, SONG, MOSS
All, WALK, RAW, OUGHT
APPLAUD, TAUGHT, NAUGHT, NAUTICAL, CAUSE, SAUCE
OFTEN, CLOTH, LOST, SALT
- THE TALL AUTHOR PAUSED AND WALKED HOME.
- LEAVES FALL ON THE LAWN VERY OFTEN.
- PAUL ATE SOME REALLY AWFUL SAUCE.
- DON'T WALK OFF WITH SUCH A BAD COUGH.

Now try these extra words and sentences for the "Soft AW" vowel which are not recorded on the tape.

applaud laundry sought naught draw gnaw
chalk flawless loft Walker flaw lawn
coffee shawl tongs thought mall awe
malted bawdy strong caught moth walk
author mothball wrong brought hall jaw
taught hallway glossy bought loft off
vault cloth vaulted pause long all
cause nautical cough tall lost wall
autisti cought wrought laud raw stall


- The tall author walked often.
- The awkward, awful, strong man walked home.
- Lost boys often become flawless at reform school.
- Horses often cost more than the monthly draw.
- The dog fought the moth he had brought home.
- He stalked the ball and then vaulted down the hall.
- The awful sauce made Paul pause and then walk away.
- The cat crawled across the lawn with its hurt paw.
- Right or wrong, we applauded the awkward author.
- The cloth in the hall smells of moth balls.
- You taught me to vault flawlessly without falling.

L 1/ S 4-C: CONTRASTING "HARD O" & "SOFT AW"

-- [0]VER {A}LL, CL{0} TH IS BETTER THAN G[0]LD.
-- I S{AW} HIM W{A}LK H[0]ME AL[0]NE.
-- D[0]N'T F{A}LL IN THE [O]CEAN WHILE W{A}LKING ON THE B[OA]T.

Now try these other contrasts between the hard and soft vowel which are not recorded on the tape.

{ } [ ] { } [ ]
loft loafed walk woke
stall stole caught coat
pause pose chalk choke

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