IPA query

Mi5 Mick   Saturday, October 09, 2004, 22:42 GMT
Vowels may also be distinguished in terms of duration for those languages and dialects, such as AusE, that employ phonemic vowel length (Ainsworth, 1972, 1981; Klatt, 1976; Ladefoged and Maddieson, 1990; Lehiste and Peterson, 1961; Lindau, 1975; Peterson and Lehiste, 1960, Cochrane, 1970). Vowel classification experiments for such dialects have demonstrated increased accuracy when frequency information is combined with durational information in Gaussian models (Cox, 1996; Harrington and Cassidy, 1994; Hillenbrand et al., 1995, 2000; Watson and Harrington, 1999). In AusE, the vowels /, , æ, , / and // are considered to be short vowels, while all the others (except schwa) are long vowels (Bernard, 1967b; Clark, 1989; Mitchell and Delbridge, 1965b). Bernard (1967b) and Cochrane (1967) have shown that duration is the primary cue for discriminating between the vowels /a/ and //. Other potential length contrasts exist between /, / and /, / which for many, perhaps most, AusE speakers contrast exclusively by duration in closed syllables; for instance, “bid” compared with “beard”, or “dead” compared with “dared”.
The major difference between the long and the short vowels is simply one of total vowel duration, however, the difference is relative rather than absolute as contextual and prosodic factors affect the ultimate length of the vowel.
Mi5 Mick   Saturday, October 09, 2004, 22:48 GMT
You lose! :P~

Mxsmanic   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 04:57 GMT
It's not a contest. However, I'll keep your information in mind should I ever wish to learn to talk like an Australian. In the meantime, I'll stick to standard pronunciations of English.
Paul   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 05:15 GMT
I notice some vowel length distinctions even in Rhotic English.
At least in my Canadian accent, we still distinguish cot/caught,
Doc/dawg, lock/log which is strictly a difference in length and stress.
It is also a factor in pill/peel, fill/feel, still/steel.
It is a factor in full/fool too.

Anyone else notice some more minimal pairs
Mi5 Mick   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 09:11 GMT
It's a contest trying to convince someone who just won't budge to think outside the square! I don't need linguists telling me how I speak my language, but they're more likely to convince you than me or other learned natives.

Well I'll stick to my standard pronunciation of English as will most of the other 20 million residents, most of whom think it standard-standard. By the way, I'm sure phonemic vowel length plays a part in Southern English and Estuary and other forms, the same way I sense it in my own speech patterns.
Mxsmanic   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 11:04 GMT
As I've said, vowel length is not important in RP or American English, nor in Estuary English as far as I know.

Overall, ESL students don't have to care about vowel length. They need to care about vowel position, since that is phonemic in all varieties of English.

I rather doubt that all 20 million make vowel length phonemic regularly, or even at all. In any case, there are hundreds of millions of other native English speakers who don't. It's best to stick to things that are common to all the major standard pronunciations of English.
Mi5 Mick   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 11:57 GMT
As I've said, most of the 20 million do so consistently in order to make phonemic distinctions, where vowel position is NEGLIGIBLE. Without relative vowel length, we would be unintelligible to one another! But again I feel I'm beating a dead horse in you. Try to face it- you are wrong but why you would be in denial over this, is strange.

As I've said, in other forms of non-rhotic English, it's the same basic thing. Just watch a few Brit shows; record them, analyse them with SFSwin, listen to them but most importantly open your mind to this and don't just doubt. I know you were surprised because your favourite books told you otherwise but you shouldn't be anymore, as many people you find will echo the same ideas.

Your "hundreds of millions of other English speakers" means little to me and to other residents here including those who are ESL students. It's best for them to stick to the conventions of communication here. Other standards are useless to them if they can't understand others around them. It's like you telling the French they don't know how to speak their own language because of what you've read on French, and just because you can't understand them.
Mi5 Mick   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 12:29 GMT
* where minor variations in vowel position are NEGLIGIBLE
Mxsmanic   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 13:56 GMT
If you are teaching ESL students to survive specifically in your own area, and if you are certain that vowel length is phonemic and more so than vowel position, then I suppose you are justified in teaching them vowel length. However, if you are preparing them to speak English with the other billion people in the world who have learned the language, it would be best to concentrate on vowel position, and disregard length, because that's how it works for the vast majority of English speakers.

It's a bit like that teacher mentioned in another thread who persists in teaching students Scottish English in all its fine detail, as if they were going to spend the rest of their lives speaking English only to Scots, and never to the rest of the planet. I think this does a tremendous disservice to students, but I can only try to teach my own students a more general and standard English; I have no control over what other ESL teachers choose to teach. I feel sorry for their students, though.
Yon   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 20:51 GMT
I said-''''baa'' is the sound that a sheep makes. It's definitely an English word.''

''No, it's just a sound.''

Mxsmanic, No, since it has a standard spelling it's a word.
Juan   Sunday, October 10, 2004, 22:38 GMT
Vowel length is important in non-rhotic English. End of discussion.
Mxsmanic   Monday, October 11, 2004, 04:42 GMT
I don't know of too many English words that contain two consecutive a's, so clearly baa is not a standard spelling.

The English word for the sound a sheep makes is "bleat." "Baa" is an imitation of the sound itself, not a word.

Vowel length is not phoemic in any standard pronunciation of English, rhotic or not. Students who refuse to recognize this risk having trouble making themselves understood and understanding others.
Damian   Monday, October 11, 2004, 07:11 GMT
Double "a" in "English" words? In the very limited time I have in here before I have to shoot off to work, off the top of my head the only such words are of foreign origin. I don't thionk there are any "aa" English words. Only two are in my head right now:
Baal - offhand meaning a God or something, and "kraal" which I think is Afrikaans (hey..another one!) Dutch is full of "aa's".
Briana   Monday, October 11, 2004, 07:40 GMT
Vowel length is phonemic in many standard pronunciations of non-rhotic English. In rhotic English it works in tandem with vowel position.
Easterner   Monday, October 11, 2004, 09:19 GMT
It is no doubt that "can" and "kin" are minimal pairs, and "come" and "Kim" likewise. The question is if words like "hum" and "harm" or "ban" and "barn" are minimal pairs as well. The fact that rhotic speakers pronunce the /r/ in "harm" suggests that they perceive it to be there on phonemic level, therefore they will not perceive these two words as forming a minimal pair. The situation is more interesting for non-rhotic speakers, because I think it does make a difference to them if they pronunce these words with different vowels which differ in length and/or tongue position. So even if it may be argued if the /r/ is there on a phonemic level or not, as far as speech is concerned, these words definitely form minimal pairs, because non-rhotic speakers do not feel there should be a "r" in these words, even if it is there in writing, and even if the lengthening of the vowel is a result of dropping the /r/.