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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sound-symbol correspondence: A

One of the most frustrating things about English is the weak relationship between spelling and pronunciation. At the request of some students, I'm going to go through some of the patterns, starting with the letter "a" in single-syllable words (音節が一つ "a" 母音).

Rule #1: if the spelling is CaC, then "a" = [æ]
C: 子音

Simple examples: bat, cap, dam, fax, gaff, hat, lamb, man, nab, pat, ran, Sam, tax, vat, wax, zap

Complex examples: class, dragged, flack, glass, hacked, lags, maps, nags, prams, rats, scratch, tracks, wags

Here's a video that explains æ:

Rule #2: in CaCe or CCaCe, "a" = [e]
[e] = え

Examples: bake, crate, drake, fate, gate, hate, Jake, lame, made, Nate, prate, rake, stake, tare, vane

Rule #3: CaiC = [e]
[e] = え

Simple examples: brain, claim, gain, laid, maid, paid, rain, stain, train, wain

Complex examples: bakes, crates, grated, fairs, mares, prates, rains, stains, taken

Rule #4: ang = [eŋ]

Example: angles, bang, fangs, sang

Here is a video explaining [ŋ]:

Rule #5: ank = [enk]

Examples: ankles, bank, Frank, tanks, thank

Rule #6: aw = [ɔ]

Examples: awe, brawl, draws, law, raw, saws

Rule #7: alk = [ɔk]

(really: the "l" is silent)

Examples: balk, chalk, stalks, talk

Rule #8: ay = [e]

Examples: bay, days, fray, hay, may, stay

Rule #9: ar = [ar] 
word-final all = [all]

These are the only times a single-syllable word that is spelled with an "a" sounds like ア.

Examples: are, bar, fart, heart, mark, parse, start, and all of the "all" words: all, ball, call, fall, etc.

I'm pretty sure that's all the single-syllable patterns. Please let me know if I missed some.