Long A or Short A Vowel Sound?

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Meg Anne:
My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement over the vowel sound that occurs in words such as the following: bank, blanket, bang, tank, tango, rank, blank, thanks, etc. One group adamantly believes this to be similar to a LONG A sound, while the other group thinks it's the SHORT A sound. We have found conflicting information on this topic when consulting various dicationaries and pronunciation guides.

Is it possible that the sound is neither the short or long A and might have a phonetic sound/category of its own? Personally, I feel it is much closer to a long A than short A, but it seems to be kind of an individual thing (you hear it the way you hear it, regardless of what others say or what the dicationary says...) Any insightful comments on this would be most appreciated. Thank you.
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R H Draney:
Meg Anne filted:
[nq:1]My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement over the vowel sound that occurs in words such as ... individual thing (you hear it the way you hear it, regardless of what others say or what the dicationary says...)[/nq]
The words "long" and "short" in connection with English vowels are fraught with peril anyway...some use them to distinguish between the pre- and post-vowel-shift pronunciations, so that a long I is what they hear in "machine"..
I, along with most of the west coast of the US in the 60s, was taught that the vowel in the middle of most three-letter words was "short", and the same word with a "silent e" on the end had the "long" version of the same vowel...(in the cases of "a", "i" and "o", the long vowel in this sense is actually a diphthong)...thus, "short a" was the vowel heard in "fat" and "long a" the sound in "fate"..
Your example words all have the same consonant following the "a" vowel: the one usually spelled "ng" and written in ASCII IPA as /N/...the fact that this consonant isn't normally spelled with a single letter may be throwing off the schooled lessons, but try it with some of the other vowels...is the vowel in "sing" more like the one in "sit" or in "site"?...how about the one in "long"?...more like "lob" or "lobe"?...
Clearly, if one listens closely, the vowel before /N/ isn't exactly the short vowel, but it seems closer to it in these cases than to the long vowel, and there's something to be said for extending the same logic to the "a" vowel in the same position...you can try this line of reasoning with those who claim they hear "thanks" as something like "thaynks", but you may not convince them...some people will hear identical vowel sounds in different ways depending upon their own accents, and this one in particular seems subject to regional effects..r
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Default User:
[nq:1]My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement over the vowel sound that occurs in words such as ... of what others say or what the dicationary says...) Any insightful comments on this would be most appreciated. Thank you.[/nq]
I disagree. To me, "bank" sounds much more like "bat" than "bait". It's a short 'a' with an ng sound drawing it out a bit.
Brian Rodenborn
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david56:
Meg Anne expostulated:
[nq:1]My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement over the vowel sound that occurs in words such as ... of what others say or what the dicationary says...) Any insightful comments on this would be most appreciated. Thank you.[/nq]
We have a tame court transcriber who will no doubt be along in a minute, but I have to ask you what variety of English you are referring to?

David
==
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Mark Brader:
[nq:1]My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement over the vowel sound that occurs in words such as ... believes this to be similar to a LONG A sound, while the other group thinks it's the SHORT A sound.[/nq]
To me, those are all examples of the short A.

Mark Brader, Toronto "A secret proclamation? How unusual!" (Email Removed) Arsenic and Old Lace
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John Holmes:
[nq:1]My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement over the vowel sound that occurs in words such as ... of what others say or what the dicationary says...) Any insightful comments on this would be most appreciated. Thank you.[/nq]
The simple answer is that for most English-speakers it is the short A. Your accent might be different, though.

Regards
John
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Skitt:
[nq:2]My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement ... insightful comments on this would be most appreciated. Thank you.[/nq]
[nq:1]The simple answer is that for most English-speakers it is the short A. Your accent might be different, though.[/nq]
I have found that having a different native language makes it difficult to understand the "long vowel vs. short vowel" distinctions used for English.

To me, influenced as I am by my native tongue, many of those distinctions involve what I'd call completely different vowels. You see, in my native language there are actual short and long versions (the latter indicated with a diacritic) of each vowel, and only the duration of that vowel is what is different. The "a" in "bat" and "bark" are completely different vowels, represented with different letters ("e" and "â", respectively). The short "a" sound ("a" without a diacritic) would be as the "u" in "butt"; the long "a" (with the diacritic) would be as in "bark".
It's very confusing to me when I see the terms "short" and "long" describing differences in vowel sounds involving other aspects than only their duration.
This confusion on my part has caused misunderstandings in the past.

An attempt to describe Latvian vowel sounds:
short as in long as in
a cut a bark
e bet e Irish "gate" - no diphthong)
another e cat e like "dad", but drawn out) i hit e beet
o * - - *(something like a "ua" diphthong) another o BrE rot o boat (foreign-derived words only) u put u boot
The distiction between when to use the different "e" pronunciations has to be learned, but there are definite rules for it.
Oh well, I tried.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
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Paul Rooney:
[nq:2]My fellow court reporting students and I are in disagreement ... while the other group thinks it's the SHORT A sound.[/nq]
[nq:1]To me, those are all examples of the short A.[/nq]
To me also, in northern England. As far as I know they are always short in southern England too. I have never heard any Brit pronounce any of them with a long a.

Paul
My Lake District walking site (updated 29th September 2003):

http://paulrooney.netfirms.com
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Dena Jo:
[nq:1]We have a tame court transcriber[/nq]
Who are you calling tame?
[nq:1]who will no doubt be along in a minute[/nq]
Well, a day, anyway.
It's much, much closer to a short A sound than a long A sound. But the real question is, why would you even consider writing it with a long A sound? Imagine seeing PWAEUPBG in your notes instead of PWAPBG.

TKAOEPB/A SKWROE RBGS SKOEP/EUFT
Delete "delete.this.for.email" for email.
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