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Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sound-symbol correspondence: E

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 pick up where I left off with the pronunciation of single-syllable words which are spelled with an "e" (音節が一つ "o" 母音).

1. If the pattern is "e" followed by a consonant, it's pronounced [Ɛ]. 
This is the vowel in words like: checked, Ed, end, Fed, heck, let, Mets, neck, peck, sex, Ted, and wet.

Here's a video on the correct pronunciation:

2.   If the spelling pattern is "ea" or "ee" followed by a consonant, it's more complex. Sometimes it's pronounced [Ɛ], other times it's pronounced [i] (カタカナのイ).

For instance, been, head, and stead, are pronounced with the [Ɛ] vowel.

But bead, cheat, each, ear, feed, heat, Leeds, mean, near, peat, seed, teat, teen, and weed are pronounced with the [i] vowel.

Except that "search" is pronounced with the [ɝ] vowel (see rule #5 below).

And "bear" is pronounced with エ.

Isn't English fun!

Good luck with this one!

3. If the pattern is a consonant with "e" or "ee" at the end of the word, then it's pronounced イ too.

Examples include: be, bee, free, flee, me, pee, tee, and wee.

4. There are a few words spelled with "ei," and most of these are pronounced [e] (like カタカナ エ).

These include: eight, neigh, sleigh, weight

Except that "height" is pronounced with the [ai] diphthong. 

But "weird" is pronounced with the [iɝ]

So again, this one is complex.

5. If "e" or "ea" is followed by an R, then the vowel is generally pronounced with the [ɝ]

So we get words like dearth, Ferb, hearse, her, herds, nerd, per, perm, perch, search

Except that "ear" is pronounced with イ.

6. "W" has a strange influence on pronunciation, and words that end in "ew" are pronounced [ju] (like the word "you") or just [u].

Examples are few, hew, pew with the [ju].

And brew, Lew, stew with [u].

In cases like "eCe" where C=consonant (子音)then "e" is pronounced like イ.

Examples include cede, meme, and geese 

I think that's all of the patterns of single-syllable English words which use the vowel "e" (except for word-final e-word patterns like the word "grade." 

Send me an email you think I've missed a pattern. It wouldn't surprise me because "e" pronunciation is complex.