Phonology: Vowel Phonics Patterns

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What is phonology?
Phonology is the study of the sound system of languages. It is a huge area of language theory and it is difficult to do more on a general language course than have an outlineknowledge of what it includes. In an exam, you may be asked to comment on a text that you are seeing for the first time in terms of various language descriptions, of which phonology may be one. At one extreme, phonology is concerned with anatomy andphysiology - the organs of speech and how we learn to use them. At another extreme, phonology shades into socio-linguistics as we consider social attitudes to features of sound such as accent and intonation. And part of the subject is concerned with finding objective standard ways of recording speech, and representing this symbolically. For some kinds of study - perhaps a language investigation into the phonological development of young children or regional variations in accent, you will need to use phonetic transcription to be credible. But this is not necessary in all kinds of study - in an exam, you may be concerned with stylistic effects of sound in advertising or literature, such asassonance, rhyme or onomatopoeia - and you do not need to use special phonetic symbols to do this. Phonetics is the study of the sounds of language.  These sounds are called phonemes. There are literally hundreds of them used in different languages.  Even a single language like English requires us to distinguish about 40!  The key word here is distinguish.  We actually make much finer discriminations among sounds, but English only requires 40.  The other discriminations are what lets us detect the differences in accents and dialects, identify individuals, and differentiate tiny nuances of speech that indicate things beyond the obvious meanings of the words.

A phoneme is a speech sound that helps us construct meaning. That is, if we replace it with another sound (where this is possible) we get a new meaning or no meaning at all. If I replace the initial consonant (/r/) from rubble, I can get double or Hubble (astronomer for whom the space telescope is named) or meaningless forms (as regards the lexicon of standard English) like fubble and wubble. The same thing happens if I change the vowel and get rabble, rebel, Ribble (an English river) and the nonsense form robble. (I have used the conventional spelling of “rebel” here, but to avoid confusion should perhaps use phonetic transcription, so that replacements would always appear in the same position as the character they replace.)

Phonics refers to a method for teaching speakers of English to read and write that language. Phonics involves teaching how to connect the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters (e.g., that the sound /k/ can be represented by c, k, ck, ch, or q spellings) and teaching them to blend the sounds of letters together to produce approximate pronunciations of unknown words.

Phonics is a widely used method of teaching to read and decode words, although it is not without controversy (see History and controversy below). Children begin learning to read using phonics usually around the age of 5. Teaching English reading using phonics requires students to learn the connections between letter patterns and the sounds they represent. Phonics instruction requires the teacher to provide students with a core body of information about phonics rules, or patterns.

Vowel phonics patterns

▪ Short vowels are the five single letter vowels, a, e, i, o, and u when they produce the sounds /æ/ as in cat, /ɛ/ as in bet, /ɪ/ as in sit, /ɒ/ as in hot, and /ʌ/ as in cup. The term "short vowel" does not really mean that these vowels are pronounced for a particularly short period of time, but they are not diphthongs like the long vowels. ▪ Long vowels are homophonous with the names of the single letter vowels, such as /eɪ/ in baby, /iː/ in meter, /aɪ/ in tiny, /oʊ/ in broken,...
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