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2.1. 元音(Vowels)

英文总计 6 个基础元音,分别是 ʌeəɪʊɒ —— 这 6 个短元音就好像是 “根” 一样。剩下的十几个元音要么是它们略有变化的更长版本,即,长元音 —— ɑː, æ, ɝː, i, iː, uː, ɔː;要么是它们的组合版本,即,双元音 —— aɪ, eɪ, ɔɪ, aʊ, oʊ, er, ɪr, ʊr

In English, there are 6 basic vowels: ʌ, e, ə, ɪ, ʊ, and ɒ. Think of these 6 short vowels like the roots of a tree. The remaining more than a dozen vowels are either slightly modified, longer versions of these - the long vowels, which are ɑː, æ, ɝː, i, iː, uː, ɔː; or, they are combinations of these basic sounds, known as diphthongs - aɪ, eɪ, ɔɪ, aʊ, oʊ, er, ɪr, ʊr.

在英式英语中,er, ɪr, ʊr 这 3 个双元音分别读作 eə, ɪə, ʊə

In British English, the diphthongs er, ɪr, ʊr, which are pronounced respectively as eər, ɪər, ʊər, are annotated as eə, ɪə, ʊə.

元音的关键在于它们的长短。搞错元音的长短,一方面可能会造成错误或者理解困难。更为重要的是另外一方面 —— 会造成节奏2.5.4)混乱。

The crux of vowels lies in their duration. If you mess up the length of vowels, not only could it lead to errors or difficulties in understanding, but more importantly, it could disrupt the rhythm (2.5.4).

由于双元音由两个基础元音构成,所以双元音的长度与长元音相当。于是,英文音节的发声总体上倾向于比其它语言更长,因为 20 多个元音中只有 6 个是短的,与之相对的,剩余 2 倍以上的数量是长的。这是一个相当显著的差异 —— 尤其在与亚洲语言相比的时候尤为明显,因为在大多数亚洲语言中元音(可能被称为韵母、母音)总是等长的,没有长短之分。

Since diphthongs are composed of two basic vowels, their length is equivalent to that of long vowels. As a result, English syllables tend to be pronounced longer overall than in other languages, given that only 6 out of more than 20 vowels are short, while the remaining, more than double in quantity, are long. This is a rather noticeable difference, especially when compared to Asian languages, where vowels always have equal length, with no distinction between long and short.

另外,美式英语与英式英语有一个显著的不同。英式英语的元音只有长短之分,美式英语里,有些元音是半长元音,比如,æ 或者 i

On the other hand, there's a notable difference between American and British English when it comes to vowel duration. In British English, vowels are either long or short. On the other hand, in American English, some vowels fall into a category of semi-long vowels, such as æ or i.