Musa Lesson 3: Long Vowels

In Lesson 1, you learned the short vowels. Now we're going to learn the English long vowels and diphthongs: sequences of a short vowel followed by a semivowel. We use three semivowels: the y that moves up and towards the front of your mouth, the w that moves up and towards the back of your mouth, and the r that moves towards the center of your mouth in Mainland dialects, and towards the bottom of your mouth in Island dialects.

Front Long Vowels and Fronting Diphthongs

The short vertical line in the green and gray vowels is called the Long Mark. It shows that the vowel is long.

fleece creep meet seek beech reef teeth seed sleeve seethe cheese seem green feel see tree agree needle feeder sweeten grebe these even shriek brief piece believe field ceiling be me key people reap meat speak teach leaf beneath peace leash bead league leave breathe please team mean deal sea tea feast reason weasel easy metre equal decent legal penal complete scene deceive receive seize anemic phoenix subpoena fetus quay police unique machine prestige elite mosquito casino visa trio ski chic

face tape late cake safe case babe fade vague age wave bathe craze name mane vale change waste taper bacon nature station lady raven invasion gauge gaol/jail crepe fete bouquet wait faith plaice aitch raid nail main faint day play way grey/gray rein veil beige feint they whey obey weigh weight eight straight reign campaign deign great steak break yea

price ripe write like knife ice tribe side arrive writhe rise time fine mile fire die tried tiger silent violent liar science indict isle child pint find ninth bicycle island hifi type try hybrid dye eider kaleidoscope eye height aisle buy choir fight high sign

choice boy toy joy annoy oyster noise voice choice rejoice void moist coin join oil boil soil spoil toil poison ointment buoy employ groin hoist joist

Back Long Vowels and Backing Diphthongs

Note that the fuchsia vowel, unlike all the others, has a semivowel before the main vowel, as well as a long mark.

fuchsia you youth dupe mute duke truth obtuse cube rude fugue huge amuse tune mule funeral prudent duty pupil mucus lucid crucial confusion music human sleuth deuce feud neutral feudal eunuch newt lewd few knew pewter sewage fruit juice cruise nuisance view review beauty beautiful plume lucre ludicrous lunatic

blue goose loop shoot spook smooch proof tooth loose boob mood groove smooth choose boom spoon fool too boost schooner booty move prove lose whose tomb do who two group ghoul through

goat soap boat oak roach loaf oath road loathe coal roam loan boast coax note rope joke both gross robe code rogue grove clothe rose hole home tone so no toe foe don't host noble ocean explosion holy brooch beau gauche mauve bowl own tow know grow owe soul poultry mould/mold shoulder colt holster old bold soldier roll scroll control sew dough though although

mouth out pouch south house loud gouge mouth rouse noun foul thou count round pronounce oust trousers mountain council boundary crowd browse owl down cow allow dowry flower coward towel powder bough plough/plow doughty

Exercises

Here's a quiz on just these long vowels:

       


Centering or Lowering Diphthongs

In Mainland dialects, we have vowels that move towards the purple vowel in the center of the mouth. These vowels end in the semivowel.

In Island dialects, these same diphthongs are pronounced as a movement downwards towards the olive vowel in the bottom of your mouth, and we use the semivowel. (But in words like orange, Brits use the purple r, since it starts the second syllable.)

In the illustrations below, we'll spell it the Mainland way.

near beer deer career here mere sincere interfere bier pier cashier fear ear appear yearling fierce pierce weird beard serious mysterious period serum diphtheria hero eerie peerage dreary weary

square care share bare air fair pair bear pear wear swear heir their there where prayer mayor scarce vary canary aquarium various rarity area dairy grairie fairy aerial

start far star bar bazaar sharp part bark arch scarf farce harsh garb card large carve parse farm barn snarl party market marvellous heart hearken hearth sergeant aardvark sari safari cascara curare

north or for nor war assort cavort consort distort exhort resort tort short snort tort cork fork stork torque scorch torch morph gorse horse remorse orb absorb accord chord cord lord record gorge corm form reform storm adorn born corn horn morn porn scorn shorn thorn corpse porpoise torpid torpor fortify fortunate fortune important corporal importunate mortal mortar shorten tortoise orchestra orchid torture forfeit morpheme morphine orthodox torso orbit order border ordinary organ organism organize dormer normal ornament corner forward fortress quart quarter quartz sward swarm swarthy warble ward warden wardrobe warlock warm warmth warn warp wart aura aural

In most dialects, both Mainland and Island, the following words are pronounced with the same vowel. But in some dialects, they use a higher vowel, which you can spell  or  .

force ore adore afore before bore chore core crore deplore explore fore galore gore ignore implore more ore pore restore score shore snore sore spore store swore tore whore wore yore boar hoar oar roar soar floor door four pour deport export fort import port report sport support pork porch forth divorce afford ford horde sword forge borne shorn sworn torn worn portent porter portrait proportion coarse hoarse board hoard boarder court fourth course resource source mourn courtier mourning oral adorable angora aurora borax boron choral fedora flora floral glory gory moron porous story thorax torus censorious euphoria gloria glorious historian laborious memorial meritorious moratorium notorious pictorial pretorian stentorian thorium uxorious hoary uproarious

boor moor poor spoor amour tour your bourse gourd bourgeois gourmand gourmet tournament tourney tourniquet boorish houri tourism tourist plural rural anthurium spurious tellurium neural neuron/neurone pleurisy

cure abjure adjure allure assure demure endure ensure immure insure inure lure manure mature obscure procure pure secure sure angostura assurance bravura bureau incurable insurance mural centurion curious furious injurious luxurious penurious curate during fury futurity jury lurid maturity obscurity purify purity security sulfuric/sulphuric

fire acquire admire afire aspire attire backfire barbwire bemire bonfire brushfire bushfire campfire ceasefire concessionaire conspire counterfire crossfire desire dire drumfire empire enquire entire esquire expire foxfire grandsire gunfire hangfire hardwire haywire hellfire hire inquire inspire ire mire misfire perspire quagmire rehire reinspire require respire retire rewire saltire sapphire satire shellfire shire sire spire spitfire squire surefire suspire tightwire tire transpire tripwire umpire underwire vampire wildfire wire

flour sour hour our dour scour devour sauerkraut

For many dialects: bower cower flower power shower tower

When the purple shirt vowel ends a stressed syllable, for example in the words purr sirloin furball, it's held longer (since English syllables can't end in a short vowel) and we write it with a following Long mark .

Exercises

        


Wrapping it all up, here's a color vowel chart for all 27 English vowels:

For each word at left, find a word with the same vowel in the columns above, and check the button below it. Don't worry that there are other choices in the same column - just pick the column with the one that matches.

bit
butte
bird
bet
boot
beard
but
boat
bared
bat
rabbit
buyer
pot
boy
bard
bought
bite
bower
book
bait
bored
bout
beat
boor




bought bit bat but

Congratulations! We're almost done.


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