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American English Pronunciation Podcast (Pronuncian.com), #78: comparing short a, short o, and aw sound

#78: comparing short a , short o , and aw sound

Understanding a sequence of very similar sounds

Listen now!

Note: The most current podcast will begin playing, scroll down to the episode you wish to listen to.

Transcript

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy’s American English Pronunciation Podcast.

My name is Mandy, and this is our 78th episode.

I’m staying on the topic of vowel comparison today.

In the last episode we studied vowels from high to relaxed in the middle of the mouth. Those vowels were the long e , short i , short e , and short u , ( long e , short i , short e , and short u ). Examples of words with those four sounds are beat, bit, bet, but .

Today I’m going to give you a series of vowels that are produced with the tongue low in the mouth, the short a , short o , and aw sound , which are pronounced ( short a , short o , and aw sound ).

Examples of words with these three sounds are cat, cot, caught .

Listen to the words again.

cat, cot, caught

The vowel sounds in those words were short a , short o , and the aw sound ( short a , short o , and aw sound )

cat, cot, caught

Let’s explore how these sounds are the same, and how they are different.

I already said they are all produced with the tongue low in the mouth. The similarities end there however. They are different in the shape of the tongue, the amount the jaw is open or closed, and the position of the lips.

The short a sound ( short a ) is pronounced with a slightly lowered jaw.

The body of the tongue is pressed forward and the front of tongue is low and pressed lightly into the bottom front teeth. The lips are relaxed. The sound is ( short a ) cat.

Repeat that sound and word after me:

short a , ( short a ) cat
( short a ) cat

So, for the short a sound, the body of the tongue is pressed forward and the front of tongue is low.

( short a ) cat

To transition into the short o sound ( short o ), the jaw opens and the body of the tongue moves back and drops low into the bottom teeth.

The lips are more rounded than for the short a sound, but still relaxed. The sound is ( short o ) cot.

Repeat that sound and word after me:

short o , ( short o ) cot
( short o ) cot

Remember, for the short o sound, the jaw opens and the body of the tongue moves back and drops low into the bottom teeth.

( short o ) cot

The transition into the aw sound from the short o sound is kind of complex.

The jaw closes about halfway from the short o position, and the back of the tongue rounds slightly upward. The lips are made into an oval shape, and may push outward. The sound is ( aw sound ) caught.

Repeat that sound and word after me:

( aw sound ) caught
( aw sound ) caught

To review, to create the aw sound , the back of the tongue rounds slightly upward.

The lips are made into an oval shape, and may push outward.

( aw sound ) caught

To compare all three sounds, the short a ( short a ) is the most forward, with the front of the tongue low, the short o ( short o ) has the jaw quite open and the tongue back and in the lowest position in the middle of the mouth.

The aw sound ( aw sound ) requires closing the jaw again, which forces the back of the tongue upward, but only slightly. During the aw sound , the lips are made into a tense oval shape, which also alters the sound from the short o .

Let’s practice some minimal sets of all three of these sounds.

I’ll say all three words, then leave time for you to repeat after me.

cat, cot, caught
add, odd, awed
sad, sod, sawed
stack, stock, stalk
tack, tock, talk

Don’t be surprised if it takes a lot of listening practice to recognize these as separate and distinct sounds.

The short a , short o , and aw sound cause a lot of trouble for many, many non-native speakers from a wide variety of language backgrounds.

There is a new free lesson up on Pronuncian that gives audio examples of these sounds as well as a written description and illustration.

If you are a Pronuncian subscriber, there is also a listening quiz attached to the lesson. You can test yourself and see how well you can hear the difference between these sounds. I’ll link to that lesson from this show’s transcripts. You can find the transcripts for this show as well as all of our past episodes by visiting www.pronuncian.com/podcast.

If you’re not a Pronuncian subscriber yet, you may want to consider subscribing.

It costs as little as $15 per month if you sign up for a 6-month subscription. You get access to all the Pronuncian listening exercises, quizzes, video lessons, and the TrueVoice record and compare feature. Besides the extra content, you provide Pronuncian with the financial support that allows us to continue creating these podcasts as well as all of the Pronuncian.com content. Go to www.pronuncian.com/join to subscribe now.

To all of you who have already subscribed to Pronuncian, we thank you for your generous contributions.

That’s all for today.

Thanks for listening everyone.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication.

SLA is where the world comes to learn.

Bye-bye.



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#78: comparing short a , short o , and aw sound

Understanding a sequence of very similar sounds

Listen now!

Note: The most current podcast will begin playing, scroll down to the episode you wish to listen to.

Transcript

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy’s American English Pronunciation Podcast.

My name is Mandy, and this is our 78th episode.

I’m staying on the topic of vowel comparison today.

In the last episode we studied vowels from high to relaxed in the middle of the mouth. Those vowels were the long e , short i , short e , and short u , ( long e , short i , short e , and short u ). Examples of words with those four sounds are beat, bit, bet, but .

Today I’m going to give you a series of vowels that are produced with the tongue low in the mouth, the short a , short o , and aw sound , which are pronounced ( short a , short o , and aw sound ).

Examples of words with these three sounds are cat, cot, caught .

Listen to the words again.

cat, cot, caught

The vowel sounds in those words were short a , short o , and the aw sound ( short a , short o , and aw sound )

cat, cot, caught

Let’s explore how these sounds are the same, and how they are different.

I already said they are all produced with the tongue low in the mouth. The similarities end there however. They are different in the shape of the tongue, the amount the jaw is open or closed, and the position of the lips.

The short a sound ( short a ) is pronounced with a slightly lowered jaw.

The body of the tongue is pressed forward and the front of tongue is low and pressed lightly into the bottom front teeth. The lips are relaxed. The sound is ( short a ) cat.

Repeat that sound and word after me:

short a , ( short a ) cat
( short a ) cat

So, for the short a sound, the body of the tongue is pressed forward and the front of tongue is low.

( short a ) cat

To transition into the short o sound ( short o ), the jaw opens and the body of the tongue moves back and drops low into the bottom teeth.

The lips are more rounded than for the short a sound, but still relaxed. The sound is ( short o ) cot.

Repeat that sound and word after me:

short o , ( short o ) cot
( short o ) cot

Remember, for the short o sound, the jaw opens and the body of the tongue moves back and drops low into the bottom teeth.

( short o ) cot

The transition into the aw sound from the short o sound is kind of complex.

The jaw closes about halfway from the short o position, and the back of the tongue rounds slightly upward. The lips are made into an oval shape, and may push outward. The sound is ( aw sound ) caught.

Repeat that sound and word after me:

( aw sound ) caught
( aw sound ) caught

To review, to create the aw sound , the back of the tongue rounds slightly upward.

The lips are made into an oval shape, and may push outward.

( aw sound ) caught

To compare all three sounds, the short a ( short a ) is the most forward, with the front of the tongue low, the short o ( short o ) has the jaw quite open and the tongue back and in the lowest position in the middle of the mouth.

The aw sound ( aw sound ) requires closing the jaw again, which forces the back of the tongue upward, but only slightly. During the aw sound , the lips are made into a tense oval shape, which also alters the sound from the short o .

Let’s practice some minimal sets of all three of these sounds.

I’ll say all three words, then leave time for you to repeat after me.

cat, cot, caught
add, odd, awed
sad, sod, sawed
stack, stock, stalk
tack, tock, talk

Don’t be surprised if it takes a lot of listening practice to recognize these as separate and distinct sounds.

The short a , short o , and aw sound cause a lot of trouble for many, many non-native speakers from a wide variety of language backgrounds.

There is a new free lesson up on Pronuncian that gives audio examples of these sounds as well as a written description and illustration.

If you are a Pronuncian subscriber, there is also a listening quiz attached to the lesson. You can test yourself and see how well you can hear the difference between these sounds. I’ll link to that lesson from this show’s transcripts. You can find the transcripts for this show as well as all of our past episodes by visiting www.pronuncian.com/podcast.

If you’re not a Pronuncian subscriber yet, you may want to consider subscribing.

It costs as little as $15 per month if you sign up for a 6-month subscription. You get access to all the Pronuncian listening exercises, quizzes, video lessons, and the TrueVoice record and compare feature. Besides the extra content, you provide Pronuncian with the financial support that allows us to continue creating these podcasts as well as all of the Pronuncian.com content. Go to www.pronuncian.com/join to subscribe now.

To all of you who have already subscribed to Pronuncian, we thank you for your generous contributions.

That’s all for today.

Thanks for listening everyone.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication.

SLA is where the world comes to learn.

Bye-bye.


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