Tuesday, November 15, 2005

English Phonetics.

Why do we have so many vowels in English? When I first started thinking about our large number of vowels, I was quite proud. I mean, when you compare our fifteen distinct vowel sounds with most other language--well, we just seem quite special.

Now I'm not so sure. I've just spent the past half hour trying to decide if I merge my cots with my caughts (I thought I did, but now I think I do distinguish between the two, if only slightly). Add that to the fact that most of our vowels, no matter how we write them, turn into the schwa (just try saying almost any two or three syllable word without the schwa and see how silly you sound) and, anyway, I've decided that we are just careless with our vowels (and I'm including the Brits and Canucks in this). We have this rich variety of vowels and we just "uh" our way through them.

AmericUH
CanUHdUH
EnvUHlope
invUHtashUHn
BUHnanUH

Bwah!

2 Comments:

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

I think I take the converting-to-shwa thing to an extreme: people can't differentiate between "blond" and "blind" when I say them.
This isn't an accent thing...I've confused my own mother! (She wondered why I was trying to get my house ready for a blond guest.)

 
At 11:57 AM, Blogger STAG said...

Pure laziness. My mom used to love listening to a Jamacian singer when he gave interviews. "He pronounces every letter...isn't it great".

I am as bad as all the rest about vowels. That might be understandable if not forgiven. However, I do know there is no "G" in "Luxurious", and the word "Chimney" is not pronounced "Chimbley".

Isn't Aramaic a language written entirely without vowels? I seem to remember from World Religions class that the hebrew word for God was YHWY. You had to figure out where to put the vowels.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home