A Few Words On Pronunciation
I'd like to introduce you to the pronunciation guide outlines in the following chart. There aren't
too many characters that are different from the standard alphabet, but just so you'll be familiar
with them, look at the chart. It shows eight tense vowels and six lax vowels and semivowels.
Tense Vowels? Lax Vowels?
In some books, tense vowels are called long and lax vowels are called short. Since you will be
learning how to lengthen vowels when they come before a voiced consonant, it would be
confusing to say that hen has a long, short vowel. It is more descriptive to say that it has a lax
vowel that is doubled or lengthened.
Tense Vowels Lax Vowels
Symbol Sound Spelling Example Symbol Sound Spelling Example
ā εi take [tak] ε eh get [gεt]
ē ee eat [et] i ih it [it]
ī i ice [is] ü ih + uh took [tük]
ō ou hope [hop] uh some [sm]
ū ooh smooth [smuth]
ah caught [kt] Semivowels
+ ε cat [kt] r er her [hr]
o + o down [don] l ul dull [dl]
Voiced Consonants? Unvoiced Consonants?
A consonant is a sound that causes two points of your mouth to come into contact, in three
locations—the lips, the tip of the tongue, and the throat. A consonant can either be unvoiced
(whispered) or voiced (spoken), and it can appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.
You'll notice that for some categories, a particular sound doesn't exist in English.