Congratulations to France, the new champions of world football. ‘It’s coming home!’ was the cry, but as my son said: “we didn’t say when.” J Take a look back at blog 25, about the exophoric ‘it’.
Anyway, last week we looked at the twelve pure vowel sounds of English and how they were divided into 5 long sounds and 7 short sounds. All the long vowel sounds got used by the staff of ETC during the England-Croatia semi-final, /uː/, /iː/, /ɑː/, /ɜː/, and finally /ɔː/. This week I’m going to focus on the ‘diphthongs’ /dɪfθɒŋz/. These are sounds which use two short vowel sounds together. Confused? Don’t be. Take the word ‘go’, for example. It has the consonant sound /g/ and the diphthong /əʊ/which essentially is the ‘schwa’ /ə/ and the /ʊ/ as in ‘book’ If you put these sounds together you have /əʊ/. Go on, try it, start with the /ə/ and glide it into the /ʊ/ what you have here is a diphthong. Coming from Lancashire, where my ‘o’ sound was naturally a bit flatter, learning this for the first time was a bit of an eye-opener and I did think I sounded a bit ‘posh’. However, that was only attaching the stereotypes from my own culture and wasn’t really relevant in TESOL, where clarity is more important than showing ‘where you came from’. It’s now my choice whether I use one or the other, as long as I’m clear.
My name is John Kay and my surname has a diphthong in it: /k/ + /eɪ/, a gliding together of /e/ + /ɪ/. When I first came to Bournemouth and said my surname, quite often the locals thought I’d said Kerr. It was my responsibility to change, not theirs to try harder. There are eight diphthongs: /əʊ/ as in ‘go’, /aʊ/as in ‘cow’ /eə/as in ‘hair’, /ɪə/as in ‘ear’, /eɪ/as in ‘Kay’, /ɔɪ/as in ‘boy’ /aɪ/ as in ‘lie’, and finally /ʊə/ as in ‘pure’. Some people don’t like this last one because certain areas of England don’t use it, they say /pjɔː/. Maybe that’s why they don’t want anyone else to use it either. (He! He!) It’s also the sound in ‘fewer’. But I’ve never heard anyone pronounce fewer as /fjɔː/. However, I’m sure someone does somewhere, and if that’s what they want, and there’s no breakdown in communication, good on ‘em! Next week it’s consonant sounds! J By the way, for anyone reading this outside the UK, Bournemouth is still experiencing the best weather I can ever remember and ETC is really buzzing!