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Vowel chart tongue position Options
Hemant Patel 1
Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2018 10:29:26 PM

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Where is placed the tip of the tongue while producing vowels? In the vowel chart (High, Mid, Low) x (Front, Central, Back). What part of the tongue goes high and front or low and central? Is the tip of the tongue or the middle part of the tongue?
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 1:00:47 AM

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Hi!

It would be good to provide a link to the chart you mean. I've never seen such a thing, though I have heard sounds described in that way.

Personally, the position of my tongue when pronouncing a vowel is always pretty much the same - I guess you would call it 'low' for the back, middle and front - sometimes it might be on the low side of 'middle'. Never what I would call 'high' or 'mid'.

Mostly, the position of the tongue depends on the consonants before and after the vowel.

When I say "the" - /ðə/ - the tip of my tongue is moving down from the ð, while the middle and back of my tongue are already low.

When I say "ge" (as in 'anger'), the front and middle of my tongue are already low, and the back is moving down from the 'g'.

When I say "on", the tip and middle of my tongue are moving up for the 'n', and the back stays down.

When I say 'hot', the tip is moving up for the 't', but the middle and back stay down.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Romany
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 5:35:47 AM
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

The tongue is usually in "neutral" position when pronouncing vowels as Drago says.

You can try this for yourself: close your moth and relax - let your tongue lie in the neutral position it assummes when it isn't being used. Now open your mouth and say a, e, i, o, u. Your tongue doesn't need to move from that position: these are glottal sounds, pushed out by the opening and closing of the very back of ones mouth and resisting the flow of air down the windpipe.They don't rely on movement of the tongue. In fact, you can curl your tongue to the roof of your mouth; stick it in the side of your cheek, curl it underneath itself...you can still produce vowels.
RuthP
Posted: Friday, November 9, 2018 2:18:26 PM

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Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
Hemant Patel 1 wrote:
Where is placed the tip of the tongue while producing vowels? In the vowel chart (High, Mid, Low) x (Front, Central, Back). What part of the tongue goes high and front or low and central? Is the tip of the tongue or the middle part of the tongue?

This is a very complex topic, because there are a lot of different vowel sounds. Children are taught each vowel has a "short" and a "long" sound. This is true. The pronunciation of vowels, however, may also be affected by the consonants around them, r and w are examples of consonants that often affect vowel pronunciation.

It would probably be more effective to work from examples of words to tongue placement. Remembering that I am an American English speaker, which is different from British English, and that individual speakers likely differ in exact placement, here are some examples of what I mean:

These are all "short a" words, but even they are not all alike:
Bath, bat, mat, cat: The tip of my tongue lies on the floor of my mouth; the rest of my tongue is relaxed. The tip itself is right behind my bottom front teeth, touching the back of the teeth.
Are: This word has the complicating factor of the "r". The tip of my tongue stays down, but the back of my tongue is raised, which pulls the tip back away from the front teeth.
Am: The sides of my tongue are raised, almost or actually touching my side teeth. The tip of my tongue is now in what I think Romany would describe as the neutral position, in the middle of the mouth (top to bottom middle), but still at or very very near the front of the mouth, though still definitely behind the teeth. The sound of this "a", especially where I live, is flatter and tends to be more nasal, with more of the sound coming out the nose than in the earlier words.
Awful: The tip of my tongue is bottom front, but my tongue is not as relaxed as with the first group of words. This is probably because my lips are rounded. The sound of this vowel is very different from any of the other "a" sounds here.

In general, it will be more effective to listen to a native speaker or a tape of a native speaker (or even better, several different native speakers) using your vocabulary words in sentences.

English vowel sounds are far more labile (i.e. they change more) from word to word than the sounds in other languages I've been exposed to. Tongue and lip positions are good things to be aware of, but they are far from giving you a serious guide to English pronunciation. English is not a very phonetic language. English speakers must memorize the spelling of words; the sound of the word may or may not give them the spelling. Native speakers have the advantage of having heard the spoken language before we must learn to spell, but many of us still have a great deal of difficulty, even as adults.

When I took Hungarian, position charts for tongue and lips were very helpful. Hungarian is a highly phonetic language. The same degree of help, of surety of pronunciation is just not there, at all, in English.

In short, after all my wordiness, if you want help with individual words, we can provide it. General rules just won't get you very far.
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2018 12:46:31 PM

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Joined: 9/19/2011
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Romany wrote:

The tongue is usually in "neutral" position when pronouncing vowels as Drago says.

You can try this for yourself: close your moth and relax - let your tongue lie in the neutral position it assummes when it isn't being used. Now open your mouth and say a, e, i, o, u. Your tongue doesn't need to move from that position: these are glottal sounds, pushed out by the opening and closing of the very back of ones mouth and resisting the flow of air down the windpipe.They don't rely on movement of the tongue. In fact, you can curl your tongue to the roof of your mouth; stick it in the side of your cheek, curl it underneath itself...you can still produce vowels.


This is very true. You can even push your tongue between your back molar teeth and bite down on it, and still pronounce each vowel clearly (at least I can, and I assume anyone else can also).


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
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