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Classifying the Vowels Sounds of English.

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Classifying the Vowels Sounds of English.

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  • October 2012
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Classifying the Vowels Sounds of English
The classifcation of vowels is based on four major aspects:
Tongue height - according to the vertical position of the tongue (high vowels, also referred to as close; low vowels, also referred to as open; intermediate - close-mid and open-mid) Frontness vs. backness of the tongue - according to the horizontal position of the highest part of the tongue. Lip rounding - whether the lips are rounded (O-shape) or spread (no rounding) when the sound is being made. Tenseness of the articulators - refers to the amount of muscular tension around the mouth when creating vowel sounds. Tense and lax are used to describe muscular tension.    | Front vowels(tongue body is pushed forward) | Central vowels(tongue body is neutral) | Back vowels(tongue body is pulled back) | High/close vowels(tongue body is raised) | / see/ sit |    | / boot/ book | Mid vowels(tongue body is intermediate) | /e/ bait*/ bet | / sofa**, / bird | /o/ boat*/ bought*** | Low/open vowels(tongue body is lowered) | / bat | / under** | / father, / sock(BrE) |

*In some American accents (especially Californian English), vowel sounds in words such as bait, gate, pane and boat, coat, note are not consider diphthongs....

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