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    TABLE 1.  Phoneme Names and Characters                      10/20/98
 
     CONSONANTS
Name          Keyword      Character
Bu*             bet          b,B
du              dot          d,D
f               fun          f,F
gu              get          g,G
h               hit          h,H
j               jet          j,J
k               kin          k,K
l               let          l,L
m               mat          m,M
n               net          n,N
pu              pin          p,P
r               run          r,R
s               set          s,S
t               tin          t,T
v               van          v,V
w               win          w,W
y               yet          y,Y
z               zoo          z,Z
ch              chin         ch,CH
eng             thank        ŋ, Ŋ
sh              she          sh,SH
th (voiceless)  thin         th,TH
th (voiced)     this         ŧh,ŦH
zh              measure      zh,ZH
 
     VOWELS
a               sat          a,A
e               let          e,E
i               fin          i,I
o               hot          o,O
u               bun          u,U
ae              fail         ā,Ā
ee              feet         ē, Ē
ie              lie          ī, Ī
oe              snow         ō, Ō
ar              cart         ar,AR
air             fair         air,AIR
ear             fear         ear,EAR
er              her          er,ER
or              for          or,OR
 
aw              awful        aw,AW
oo              moon         oo,OO
ow              how          ow,OW
oy              toy          oy,OY
uu              book         uu,UU
 
*Consonant names are pronounced with as lightly stressed vowel sound as possible.
 

CONVENTIONAL TEXT: Keep in mind that we are not trying to represent sounds people make, but rather the word elements in their minds that they express as sounds. Preschool children may have less complete sets of word elements than adults. We are trying to develop as small a set of word elements as possible for parents to help their children acquire plus a standard set of written characters having names of the common English speech sounds. Learning the traditional alphabet, while a quick way to learn all the Roman letters, seems to interfere with a smooth progression into reading. The names of the letters, /ae, /bee/, /see/, etc. do not correspond with a phonemic lexicon children build up in their minds from listening and speaking. Phonemic word elements and characters make the transition to reading almost automatic; a child quickly learns that AKSES characters "work" exactly like sounds.

This list is nearly the same as many dictionary pronunciation guides. It differs most in that it contains two new r-modified vowels, /air/, and /ear/, and both /o/, and /aw/ (which some dictionary tables do not use in this same way.) The rationale for these differences is the following: /ear/ is intended as a compromise between /ee/+/r/ and /i/+/r/, while /air/ is a compromise between /ae/+/r/ and /a/+/r/. Some pronunciation guides are wild; M-W lists both /har/ and /her/ for "hair". This may cover dialects from WV mountain talk to ME nor'east lingo, but is not useful for training young minds to match up standard English speech with the written form. Many speakers and most listeners do not distinguish between /o/ and /aw/ in most cases, but a noticeable difference is maintained by almost everyone in a few common words like /hot/ and /law/.

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Published October 20, 1998. (Last worked on 10/13/07) - James H. Kanzelmeyer.