Monday, February 28, 2011

American English Vowels that Thai speakers Cannot Produce


As an American English speaker (Los Angeles, California), I will mainly focus on General American English vowels. Thai speakers who are learning English should read this blog post to better understand English vowels.  In particular, you should try to master the vowel sounds that I have put on the list below. This might help with your English pronunciation.

There are about 12 American English vowel sounds that many Thai speakers have a difficult time producing.

Monophthongs:
  1. [ɪ] as in bid. Many Thais substitute this sound with [i] as in beat.
  2. [ɛ] as bed. Many Thais substitute this sound with [e] which does not exist in most mainstream American English varieties. (Note: [e] is NOT [ej] as in bake.)
  3. [ɑ] as in father. Many Thais substitute this sound with [a] (อา) which is fronter, and it is not in mainstream American English.
  4. [ʊ] as good. Many Thais substitute this sound with [u] as in boot.
  5. [ʌ] as in bud. Many Thais substitute this sound with [a] like they do with [ɑ] (mentioned above).
  6. [ɚ] as in bird. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɤ] (เออ) which is a little bit backer; "unrounded o."
  7. [ə] as in sofa. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɤ] like they do with [ɚ] (mentioned above).
  8. [ɑ] in pot, not, got. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɔ] (ออ).
Diphthongs:
  1.  [ej] as in way. Many Thais substitute this sound with [e] like they do with [ɛ] (mentioned above).
  2.  [ow] as in show. Many Thais substitute this sound with [o] which does not exist in mainstream American English.
  3.  [ʊɚ] as in moor. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ua] or [uə] which is quite close to American English but not rhoticized.
  4. [ɛɚ] as in hair. Many Thais substitute this sound with [ɛ] (the r is dropped).

Some Thai speakers might find some of these sounds easier to master than others. I hope this article is helpful.

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