Monday, October 17, 2016

What is vowel reduction in English speech?

English speech  in made up of 44 phonemes , of which 12 are pure vowels and 8 are diphthongs . In the word pin the letter i represents a pure vowel and in the word fine the same letter i represents a diphthong . What is a diphthong? It is a combination of two vowel sounds  In the word fine  i is a combination of two vowels - a+i . 
The most frequently heard vowel sound in English speech is the central vowel . You may hear this vowel sound as the initial sound in the word -a.bout . Why is it called the central vowel ? It occupies the central position in the vowel chart . It lies midway between back vowels and front vowels and between open vowels and close vowels . 

English is a stressed language . The various syllables in an English word receive  different degrees of stress . Foreigners who are not accustomed to stress will find it difficult to follow  English speech on account of the stress .There is no stress in French such as in English . Foreign learners of French often  find it difficult to follow French speech for other reasons . In French words seem to agglutinate . so to speak . and the learners  of French will experience considerable difficulty  in following french speech . What I mean to say is that each language presents its own difficultis  to the non- native learners . 

According to the principle of vowel reduction all vowels , whether they are pure vowels or diphthongs, are reduced to the central vowel if there is no stress  on the syllables  involving  .the vowel .

Vowel reduction is the most salient feature of English speech . and this causes a lot of difficulties to the foreign learners of English .Thus in the word tortoise  the second syllable - toise  carries the diphthong oi , but as there is no stress it is pronounced as the central vowel . 

Thanking you 


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