Welcome back. The four words on everyone’s lips today are ‘football’s coming home’. Well, congratulations to the England football team and good luck from everyone at ETC, Bournemouth. Thank you also for your selected comments about the ‘hambag’, which range from ‘interesting’ to ‘sloppy speech’ It’s nice to get a response! Also, I’m going to have to go back to writing English with a capital ‘E’ because, ‘it which must be obeyed’, namely ‘the computer’, keeps ‘correcting’ me. Obviously I’ve never been one to argue with the establishment, hee! hee!

This week I want to focus a little bit more closely on those 44 individual sounds of English. There are twelve individual ‘vowel sounds’, 8 diphthongs and 24 consonant sounds. The vowel sounds are not to be confused with vowel letters, of which there are five, ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’, ‘u’. These twelve vowel sounds can be divided into 5 long sounds and 7 short sounds. Once again, I must emphasize there is regional variation here but generally, if you can produce these vowel sounds, you can be understood. The five long sounds are /ɑː/ as in ‘car’, /ɜː/ as in ‘bird’,/ɔː/  as in ‘fall’,/uː/ as in ‘shoe, and /iː/ as in ‘sheep’.

The short sounds are /ɪ/ as in ‘ship’, /ʊ/ as in ‘book’, /e/ as in ‘egg’, /æ/ as in ‘hat’, /ɒ/ as in ‘dog’, /ʌ/ as in ‘hut’, and the final one can substitute many letters of the alphabet and has a name; it’s called ‘schwa’ and looks like this /ə/, an upside down ‘e’ J It’s the sound in the second syllable of ‘sister’ and ‘brother’, ‘doctor’ and ‘teacher’. Here are those words in ‘phonemes’ (sounds). /sɪstə/, /brʌðə/, /dɒktə/, /tiːʧə/

Next time we’ll look at the diphthongs. /dɪfθɒŋz/J By then, there’ll be new football world champions. Will ‘it’ have come home? Until next week.