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English and Vietnamese Vowels 0 Running head: ENGLISH AND VIETNAMESE VOWELS

Vowels in English and Vietnamese: A Contrastive Analysis

Chu Thi Thuy Tien Class: 4C.06 University of Education

English and Vietnamese Vowels 1 Abstract Pronunciation is a problem which usually occurs to Vietnamese learners of English. Many learners have difficulty pronouncing English sounds, therefore; they have difficulty in listening and speaking English. While these two skills are very important for students when they begin to work in an environment using English, students need to be aware of the errors in their pronunciation. This paper aims to contrast vowels in Vietnamese and in English. From this analysis, some similarities and differences can be drawn between the two languages. Then some teaching implications will be presented. The teaching implications will help learners to correct their pronunciation and also help them improve other skills. I will divide my paper into three parts. Firstly, I will describe vowels in Vietnamese and then in English. Secondly, I will contrast these two systems through two aspects: positions and manners of articulation of vowels to find out similarities and differences between them. And lastly, I will discuss some implications for teaching language.

English and Vietnamese Vowels 2

Vowels in English and Vietnamese
What is a vowel? We will find that it is not easy to define exactly what it means. According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary, a vowel is a speech sound in which the mouth is open and the tongue is not touching the top of the mouth, the teeth, etc., (Hornby, 2005, p.1648). The most common view is that “vowels are sounds in which there is no obstruction to the flow of air as it passes from the larynx to the lips” (Roach, 1991, p.18). Another answer is that vowels are the core or “peak” of the syllable. This definition is more scientific. In fact, a syllable can consist of one vowel only, as in the word eye. Alternatively, the vowel can be surrounded on either or both sides by consonants, as in the words may, ants and faith. These descriptions can help us to differentiate vowels from consonants because in consonants there is obstruction of the airflow when the sound is produced. To distinguish vowel sounds from each other, we base on which part of the tongue is involved (front, central, back) and how high the tongue is when the sound is produced (high, mid, low).

Vowels in English
Vowels in English are described in term of four factors: (i) the length of the vowel, (ii) the level of the tongue, (iii) the part of the tongue and (iv) the degree of lip rounding. There are 11 single vowels in English, including 5 long vowels and 6 short vowels (Roach, 1991, pp.27-36). The length of the vowel:

English and Vietnamese Vowels 3 Vowels are classified as long and short, depending on the length of the vowels. Long vowels include /ɑ:/, /ɔ:/, / ɜ:/, /u:/, /i:/. Short vowels include / i /, / e /, / æ /, / ʌ /, /ɒ/, /ʊ/. The level of the tongue: Vowels in English can be classified as high, mid and low, referring to the level of the tongue. Therefore, we have high vowels: / i: /, / i /, / u: /, / ʊ /; mid vowels / e /, /ə /, /ɜ:/, / ʌ /, / ɔ:/; low vowels / æ /, / ɑ:/, / ɒ /. The part of the tongue: Vowels are also classified as front, central, and back, depending on how far forward or back the tongue is positioned and which part of the tongue is involved. With this classification, we have front vowels / i: /, / i /, / e /, / æ /; central vowels /ə /, / ɜ:/, / ʌ /; back vowels / ɑ: /, / ɔ: /; / ɒ /, /u:/, / ʊ /. The degree of lip rounding: In addition, vowels are characterized by the degree of lip rounding or spreading that occurs during their articulation. They include spread vowels / i: /, / i /, / e /, / æ /; neutral vowels / ə /, / ɜ:/, / ʌ / and rounded vowels / ɑ: /, / ɔ: /, / ɒ /, / u: /, / ʊ /. To make the description clearer, a chart of English vowels is given below:

English and Vietnamese Vowels 4

Chart 1. English Vowels English vowels can be summarized as following (including four factors): i: i e æ long high/ close front spread vowel short high/ close front spread vowel short mid front spread vowel short low/ open front spread vowel e.g: see /si:/ e.g: happy /’hæpi/ e.g: ten /ten/ e.g: cat /kæt/ e.g: too /tu:/ e.g: put /pʊt/ e.g: saw /sɔ:/ e.g: got /gɒt/ e.g: father /’f ɑ: ə / e.g: fur /fɜ:/ e.g: about /ə’baʊt/ e.g: cup /kʌp/

u: long high/ close back rounded vowel ʊ short high/close back rounded vowel

ɔ: long mid back rounded vowel ɒ short low/open back rounded vowel

ɑ: long low/open back rounded vowel ɜ: ə ʌ long mid central neutral vowel short mid central neutral vowel short low/open central neutral vowel

English and Vietnamese Vowels 5 In addition to single vowels, English has a large number of diphthongs- sounds which consist of a movement from one vowel to another. A vowel which remains constant and does not move is called a pure vowel, or single vowel In English, there are eight diphthongs as they are showed below: DIPHTHONG Centring Closing

ending in ə

ending in i

ending in ʊ





ʊə

ei

ai

ɔi

əʊ



English vowel also has the kind of vowel called triphthong. A triphthong is a movement from one vowel to another and then to a third. All produced rapidly and without interruption. The triphthongs can be composed of the five closing diphthongs described in the last section, with ə added on the end. Therefore we have five triphthongs: ei + ə = eiə ai + ə = aiə ɔi + ə = ɔiə əʊ +ə = əʊə aʊ + ə = aʊə mayor , player liar, fire loyal, royal lower, mower power, hour

Vowels in Vietnamese

English and Vietnamese Vowels 6

Vietnamese has three types of vowels, including acute (front): i, e, ɛ, ɛ̌, light grave: ɯ, ɤ, ɤ̌, a, ă, grave (back): u, o, ɔ, ɔ̌. These vowels can be presented in chart 2:

Chart 2. Vietnamese Vowels According to Đoàn Thiện Thuật, Vietnamese has 13 single vowels, including 10 long vowels and 3 short vowels (1977). Long vowels are i, e, ɛ, a, ă, ɔ, o, ɤ, u, ɯ; short vowels are ɛ̌̌ (anh ách), ɔ̌ (ong óc), ɤ̌ (tân, thân). In addition to single vowels, Vietnamese has three diphthongs . They are ie, ɯə and uo. About timbre change, Vietnamese vowels as well as English vowels have some fixed timbre vowels, some vowels change their timbre. The chart below shows the fixed timbre vowels in both languages: Vietnamese English

In both Vietnamese and English, diphthongs are the vowels which change their timbre.

English and Vietnamese Vowels 7 Vietnamese English

About diphthong distribution, diphthongs in Vietnamese are mostly centering, e.g: /ie/ -iê, yê, ia, ya (hiền, miền, tiên), /ɯɤ/ -ươ, ưa (hươu, thưa, thương), /uo/ -uô, ua (uống thuốc, lúa úa ).

Similarities and Differences
From the description above, I will draw some similarities and differences about vowels in Vietnamese and in English. Vietnamese has more long vowels and less short vowels than English. However, the total number of vowels, including single vowels, diphthongs and triphthongs English is far more than those in Vietnamese. English has 24 vowels, while Vietnamese has only sixteen. Both Vietnamese and English share three single vowels: / i / as in “sit”, /e/ as in “egg” and /u/ as in “would.” In addition to these shared sounds, Vietnamese contains four additional single vowels, /e/ as in tên “name,” /ɯ/ as in mừng “happy,” /ɤ/ as in lớn “big,” /ɤ̆/ as in tân “new” and three diphthongs /ie/ as in miền “region” /uo/ as in uống “drink” and /ɯɤ/ as in hướng “direction”. The second difference is that English has triphthongs while Vietnamese does not have this kind of vowel. Triphthongs cause difficulty for learners of English because they are pronounced quickly so learners can not distinguish them easily.

English and Vietnamese Vowels 8 About diphthong distribution, diphthongs in Vietnamese are mostly centering, while in English diphthongs are distributed centering (iə, eə, ʊə) or closing (ei, ai, ɔi, əʊ, aʊ). In the next part, I will contrast some specific vowels in both Vietnamese and English. Students should not mistake the sound /u/ in Vietnamese with the sound / ʊ / in English. The sound / ʊ / in English is more rounded and pronounced more backwards than the sound /u/ in Vietnamese. Some students do not know this difference so they pronounce the sound / ʊ / in English like /u/ in Vietnamese. In English and Vietnamese, there is the sound / i /. Although they look similar, the sound / i / in English is shorter, close front than the sound / i / in Vietnamese. Therefore, there are some differences when pronouncing them. Another sound students may confuse is /e/. The sound /e/ in English is the mid vowel, while the sound /e/ in Vietnamese is the high vowel. Both are the front vowels but the sound /e/ in English is pronounced more forward. Therefore when pronouncing the sound /e/ in English, learners should put the tongue lower and more forward than when they pronounce the sound /e/ in Vietnamese. Another sound students may pronounce incorrectly is / ɔ/ in Vietnamese and / ɒ/ in English. The sound /ɒ/ in English is a low rounded vowel, while the sound / ɔ/ in Vietnamese is a mid rounded vowel. However, the sound / ɒ/ is pronounced more roundly and more backward than the sound / ɔ/. Therefore, they are slightly different when they are pronounced. And lastly is the sound /a/ in Vietnamese and /a:/ in English. When the

English and Vietnamese Vowels 9 sound /a:/ is pronounced, it is more rounded and lower and longer and more backwards than the sound /a/ in Vietnamese. So far, I have contrasted Vietnamese and English vowels according to the number of vowels, positions and manners of articulation of the sounds and some specific sounds that may cause confusion to the Vietnamese learners of English. In the last part of this paper, I will discuss some teaching implications for Vietnamese and English teaching in high school.

Teaching Implications
Firstly, teacher should introduce the sounds before they let their students see the characters. Students should listen to the sounds first to familiarize with them and then they should practice pronouncing the sounds many times in words and in sentences. Secondly, the "long" and "short" features of vowels may cause some difficulty in both English and Vietnamese. Teacher should use minimal pairs when teaching pronunciation to make their students distinguishing the differences between two sounds. For example, /i:/ and /i/, /u:/ and /ʊ/, /ɔ/ and / ɔ:/ should be put in pronunciation exercises for students to practice. Then teacher should distinguish some sounds students usually confuse with Vietnamese sounds as I have presented above to make students be aware of the differences between the sounds. Thirdly, when pronouncing diphthongs in English, Vietnamese learners tend to emphasize on the first vowel which will cause “ foreign accent” (Lê, 2004, p.88) or they just pronounce the first vowel in the diphthongs and do not pronounce the second vowel in the diphthongs. For this mistake, teacher should show their students how to pronounce the diphthongs and single vowels. Teacher should distinguish for their

English and Vietnamese Vowels 10 students that diphthongs consist of two vowels. With triphthongs, teacher should give students a lot of listening exercises for them to practice and also emphasize how to pronounce them and how they are different from diphthongs and single vowels. A picture of the organs of speech will be of great use, especially for those students who rely on visual information. The vowel chart of Vietnamese and English is very helpful in explaining the differences between the vowels. From the vowel chart, students can see the position of the vowels and with the explanation of the teacher they know how to pronounce them correctly. It is necessary for a teacher to be patient with the accuracy of learners' pronunciation, even if students make slow progress at the beginning. Teacher should pay attention to the accuracy of pronunciation at more advanced levels of English when a learner has gained more knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, or he/she may lose the phonetic skills she/he learned at the beginning. Teacher should design some interesting activities or games to make their pronunciation lessons more interesting. Students will learn more if they learn the sounds with high motivation and with ease. Last but not least, students should know some knowledge about the sounds in both Vietnamese and English to be aware about their differences so when they pronounce them they will pronounce them correctly. Teacher is the person who has the responsibility to inform for their students through the pronunciation lessons.

Conclusion
In conclusion, pronunciation is very important. When students pronounce a sound correctly, they will be understood more and their communication in English will improve.

English and Vietnamese Vowels 11 Therefore, teachers and students should pay more attention to the teaching and learning the sounds. Vietnamese and English have its own sound system so Vietnamese students of English will have difficulty when pronouncing the sounds in English. This contrastive analysis is necessary for both teachers and students. In this analysis, some differences about the positions and manners of articulation and some difficult sounds have been presented and it will help students with their pronunciation. In this paper, I have also mentioned some teaching implications in teaching language in English and Vietnamese, mostly in English. I hope that this research will provide useful information for those who are concerned about the phonetics and phonology in both languages.

English and Vietnamese Vowels 12

References Đoàn, Thiện Thuật. (1977). Ngữ Âm Tiếng Việt. Hanoi: University and Vocational College Publisher. Lê, Quang Thiêm. (2004). Nghiên Cứu Đối Chiếu Các Ngôn Ngữ. Hanoi: Hanoi National University Publishing House. Hornby, A S. (2005). Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. Britain: Oxford University Press. Roach, Peter. (1991). English Phonetics and Phonology. Britain: Cambridge University Press.

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...English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca.[4][5] It is spoken as a first language by the majority populations of several sovereign states, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean nations; and it is an official language of almost 60 sovereign states. It is the third-most-common native language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.[6] It is widely learned as a second language and is an official language of the European Union, many Commonwealth countries and the United Nations, as well as in many world organisations. English arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and what is now southeast Scotland. Following the extensive influence of England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom from the 17th to mid-20th centuries through the British Empire, it has been widely propagated around the world.[7][8][9][10] Through the spread of American-dominated media and technology,[11] English has become the leading language of international discourse and the lingua franca in many regions.[12][13] Historically, English originated from the fusion of closely related dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic settlers (Anglo-Saxons) by the 5th century; the word English is simply the modern spelling of englisc, the name of the Angles[14] and Saxons for......

Words: 497 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

English

...English arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and what is now southeast Scotland. Following the extensive influence of Great Britain and the United Kingdom from the 17th to mid-20th centuries through the British Empire, it has been widely propagated around the world.[7][8][9][10] Through the spread of American-dominated media and technology,[11] English has become the leading language of international discourse and the lingua franca in many regions.[12][13] Historically, English originated from the fusion of closely related dialects, now collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic settlers (Anglo-Saxons) by the 5th century; the word English is derived from the name of the Angles,[14] and ultimately from their ancestral region of Angeln (in what is now Schleswig-Holstein). The language was also influenced early on by the Old Norse language through Viking invasions in the 9th and 10th centuries. The Norman conquest of England in the 11th century gave rise to heavy borrowings from Norman French, and vocabulary and spelling conventions began to give the appearance of a close relationship with those of Latin-derived Romance languages (though English is not a Romance language itself)[15][16] to what had then become Middle English. The Great Vowel Shift that began in the south of England in the 15th century is one of the historical events that mark the emergence of Modern English from Middle English. In......

Words: 300 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

English

...Should English be made the official language of India? Well, although English is a global language and it has somewhat become necessary to know English if one has to be successful globally, still making it our country’s official language makes little sense to me. If the whole point of changing our official language is related to the growth and success of our nation then China and its growth should make no sense to the world. The leader in BRIC nations and the nation considered next ‘SUPERPOWER’ after America doesn’t have English as their official language. They are doing great with mandarin and have very less people speaking English there. When their language is not posing a hindrance to their growth, when their GDP rate is going pretty well, when they are not thinking for changing their official language but are rather putting their heads into bigger constructive discussions then why should we? Globalization has brought the world closer and therefore to know and have tolerance for different cultures and languages is absolutely great but to forget and bring a change in our own heritage is something that according to me should not be acceptable. It’s fantastic to know English and get education in the same medium. Surely, it enhances our people to be recognized globally. It may bring them confidence and it may also aid to their growth in personality, but to look down upon one’s own culture and language is like looking down upon your parents when they are old and they need......

Words: 285 - Pages: 2