Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sheep vs ship - Long E (EE) and Short I (IH) Sounds


Hi,

Let’s begin to work on vowel sounds in pairs. One of my mistakes was that I couldn’t differentiate between two vowels:  the long E vowel (like in sheep) and short I vowel (like in ship). Understanding the difference between these two vowels is very important, otherwise you can misunderstand others, or you can be misunderstood and  get into an awkward situation. For example, if you say shit instead of sheet during a presentation, or bitch instead of beach, or piss instead of peace, you may seem  offensive, vulgar or very rude. You have to be careful. In this article, I will mention Rachel’s English (including her video channel) and Mandy’s pronuncian.com podcast.
  
Before starting, I have to mention a few issues.

As I stated in my last entry, long vowels are NOT consequently longer than short vowels. It’s only the name that has been used for them for ages. In American English, nowadays the difference between these similar sounds is mostly based on other factors such as whether your lips/tongue are tense or relaxed. If you don’t know what this means, don’t be afraid. Watch the videos and visit the websites that I recommend to you and do some practice.
Both Rachel’s and Mandy’s materials are great. If you learn from them simultaneously, it’ll be helpful for you. Even though they use different systems to name or indicate the sounds, they’re speaking about the same sounds. This difference doesn’t modify their main message.

However, I have to add that their different reference systems make it a little difficult to refer to their materials. I decided to use three systems when I speak about one specific sound. How? Let's see:



1. /i/ (Long E – EE)

What does Rachel provide? She explains how to create the /i/ (Long E - EE) sound as in “she”.  She shows how to create this sound and gives an example in which she explains in slow motion from different angles what’s going on. Her example sentence is “She needs to see there’s a reason to believe me.”

Mandy also explains how to create the /i/ (Long E - EE) sound, gives audio examples, recommends some shows from her podcast and related lessons, and shows some exercises from her premium content.  You can find the basis of the sheet of possible spelling patterns of the /i/ (Long E - EE)  sound (with audio examples) on Mandy’s website.

Let’s see how the /i/ (Long E - EE) sound is generally spelled (with some NON PHONETIC PATTERNs):
Possible spelling patterns
Examples
-ee-
keep
free
seem
-ea- 
each
dream
tea
ie_e
piece
grieve
achieve
-ie- *
brief
priest
field
-ei-
neither
either
receipt
-y
happy
marry
pony
-e  **
me
we
she
-i (NON PHONETIC)
ski
-eo- (NON PHONETIC)
people
suffixes
-ique -> /ik/
unique
butique
ctritique
-cy  ***
agency
fluency
efficiency
-ity ***
quality
ability
reality
-logy ***
trilogy
apology
mythology
-graphy ***
photography
choreography
topography
* ie spelling
Along with the long e and long i pronunciations, the ie spelling is occasionally pronounced as two adjacent vowel sounds, such as the words quiet, alien, and science. Consult a dictionary to be certain of the pronunciation of unfamiliar words spelled with ie.
** -e spelling
The -e spelling is pronounced as long e only in single-syllable words where the e is the final and only vowel in the spelling of the word.
*** consonant + y suffixes
The consonant+y suffix pattern is most frequently pronounced with a long e sound. An exception is the -fy suffix, which is usually pronounced with a long i sound (as in the words notify and glorify).

'Non phonetic' means that the specific spelling pattern is generally not pronounced using the /i/ (Long E - EE) sound.

2. /ı/ (Short I – IH) sound 

Rachel explains the /ı/ (Short I – IH) sound and her example sentence is, “The pins are in the big wicker bin.”  I would also recommend to pay attention to her minimal pairs (such as rich - reach, living – leaving).

Mandy also explains how to create the /ı/ (Short I – IH) sound, gives audio examples, recommends some shows from her podcast and related lessons, and shows some exercises from her premium content. You can find the basis of the sheet of possible spelling patterns of the /ı/ (Short I – IH) sound (with audio examples)  on Mandy’s website. 

Let’s see how the /ı/ (Short I – IH)  sound is generally spelled (with some NON PHONETIC PATTERNs):
Spelling patterns
Examples
-i- *
it
lip
spin
-y-
myth
symbol
system
-ui-
build
quit
quick
-u- (NON PHONETIC)
busy
i-e (NON PHONETIC)
give
ee (NON PHONETIC) 
been
o (NON  PHONETIC)
women
suffixes
-ate **
accurate
passionate
unfortunate
-ive
active
excessive
alternative
-ed  ***
landed
skated
celebrated
 * i spelling followed by the letter r
When the consonant following the letter i is the letter r (as in the words stir and girl), the sound is usually pronounced as the schwa+r sound instead of the short i sound followed by the r sound.
** -ate suffix
The -ate suffix is pronounced with a short i sound when the word is being used as a noun or an adjective. When the -ate suffix is being used as a verb, a long a pronunciation is more common (as in the words celebrate and evaluate).
*** -ed ending
The vowel sound of the -ed ending is pronounced with a short i sound when the sound before the -ed is a t sound or a d sound.
'Non phonetic' means that the specific spelling pattern is generally not pronounced using the /ı/ (Short I – IH) sound.

I also would like to highlight three of Rachel’s videos. The /i/ (Long E - EE) and /ı/ (Short I – IH) sounds are very similar and she compares them in part one , in part two , and in a listening comprehension section. Using the last link, you are able to test yourself to see if you can distinguish between the EE and IH sounds. 

Part one:
 Part two:

Comprehension section:

Mandy provides a minimal pairs and other exercises on her sound page. Please find 'study now' of /i/ (Long E - EE) and the /ı/ (Short I – IH) sounds. You'll find beginning sound, middle sound, and end sound exercises. In addition you can practice minimal pairs. (Sorry I can't put direct links to Mandy's minimal pairs, but you'll reach it indirectly.) Mandy also has a lot of exercises and quizzes are available for premium subscribers. Sorry, I’m not a subscriber at the moment, so I can’t give you more information about it.

If you go through all the materials that I’ve recommended, you’ll be able to distinguish the difference between the /i/ (Long E - EE) and the /ı/ (Short I – IH) sounds. Additionally, you’ll be able to clearly create them. I consider this to be very important. Later, I’m going to continue with the /æ/ (short A – AA) and the /ɛ/ (short E – EH) sounds. Keep in mind that Rachel’s and Mandy’s free materials are so vast that I intentionally left some out. If you visit any of the links I recommend, you can begin to discover those excellent sites for yourself.

Hi Gardeniafly,
What do you think about distinguishing between the /i/ (Long E - EE) and the /ı/ (Short I – IH) sounds?

"Being able to pronounce the differences in these vowel sounds is one of the quickest ways to sound more like a native English speakers. Although native speakers can usually understand what you're trying to say (even if you occasionally use the wrong vowel sound), it's good to be able to recognize those differences in pronunciation. English vowels are by no means easy, but with the material provided above and in future posts, you will be well on your way to becoming a pronunciation master!"



Next time I'm going to speaking about some common excuses why someone doesn't learn foreign languages based on an article from an excellent blog. Then I'm going to continue with the short A and short E sounds.

Thank you for your attention,

Attila

4 comments:

  1. Here's another good video where the sounds are demonstrated by pairs of words, different from each other with only one sound. These words are called "minimal pairs". The video is one of the best stuff on YouTube I've found so far, where you can clearly hear the difference and try to repeat after the speaker paying attention on how you're pronouncing the sounds.

    Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmrBUUaoX5o

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks a lot! I'm happy if you share any materials that I haven't mentioned.

      Delete
  2. yessss , i just watched and learned the difference and their sounds . .
    now i'm happy, i can differentiate between i ( LONG E - EE ) and I ( SHORT I - ih ) . .
    thank you a lot again ^__^

    ReplyDelete