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One of the toughest vowel sounds for me to pronounce is that of the word "early" (I don't know the precise name of it). Bird, earth, birth, and so on.

I started to make a list of basic words which include this vowel sound. I'm willing to sift my dictionary to the bottom, so to speak, if I need, but I guess there must be such a list already... hopefully...!

Please help me, if you have some information.
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I've never seen such a list, Feathers, sorry. Guess you'd better keep sifting.

Here are a few: alert, avert, berserk, blur, blurt, burn, burst, burl, churn, circle, curt, curse, curds, colonel, curl, concern, discern, dessert, dirk, earn, erstwhile, exert, fern, fertile, girl, gird, hurt, hearse, hurtle, heard, insert, inert, jerk, kernel, lurk, learn, myrtle, myrrh, nurse, overt, occur, perk, perverse, purse, perquisite, purl, pearl, pert, quirk, return, reverse, recur, refer, skirt, shirt, spurt, squirt, stern, stir, tern, turn, turtle, thermometer, urn, vertical, version, verse, verb, word, work, worse, Xerxes, yurt, and zircon.
Feathers,

I'm a little puzzled by your post. You say that the "er" sound is difficult for you to pronounce.
Then you ask for a list of words that contain this sound.
Did you think that having that list of words would improve your pronunciation?

See post same vowel sound?. It might help.

Confused,
CJ
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Mister MicawberHere are a few: alert, avert, berserk, blur, blurt, burn, burst, burl, churn, circle, curt, curse, curds, colonel, curl, concern, discern, dessert, dirk, earn, erstwhile, exert, fern, fertile, girl, gird, hurt, hearse, hurtle, heard, insert, inert, jerk, kernel, lurk, learn, myrtle, myrrh, nurse, overt, occur, perk, perverse, purse, perquisite, purl, pearl, pert, quirk, return, reverse, recur, refer, skirt, shirt, spurt, squirt, stern, stir, tern, turn, turtle, thermometer, urn, vertical, version, verse, verb, word, work, worse, Xerxes, yurt, and zircon.

Perfect...!

Oh...! You are so kind! I cannot thank you enough, MM!
CalifJim
Feathers,

I'm a little puzzled by your post. You say that the "er" sound is difficult for you to pronounce.
Then you ask for a list of words that contain this sound.
Did you think that having that list of words would improve your pronunciation?

If only you knew, CJ.... how I'm struggling with English vowels! I was not joking ...almost... when I said I started to sift one of my dictionaries. The oldest and smallest one, though.

I can understand how to pronounce, how to differenciate this particular vowel sound from others, but I've come to feel what I really need now is physical training of my facial/tongue muscles : to make them react at, for example, heard and hard, differently!

Thank you for the link: I'll check it out now Emotion: smile
CalifJim er, ir, and ur followed by a consonant or at the end of a word are all pronounced the same.

term, bird, turn, her, sir, fur
verb, shirt, hurt, verse, dirge, curve


ear followed by a consonant (but not at the end of a word) is also pronounced the same as those above.

learn, heard, search, rehearse, pearl

Except: beard (as if beerd), heart (as if hart), hearth ( as if harth)

our followed by a consonant has the same pronunciation in only a few words.

journal, journalist, adjourn, adjournment, tourney, tournament, courtesy, courteous

CJ
This is thorough... ! It helps me a lot. Thank you.

What I need now is -- practice. Let's adjourn to another forum...
Good! I'm glad it helped.

You know, if you get one of those electronic dictionaries, I'm pretty sure you can write a program to extract all the words with the characteristics I described. At least that's what I've heard. I haven't tried it myself.
As for pronunciation, there are a few dictionaries on-line that you might try, for example, www.m-w.com. They have an audio feature, so you can listen to the pronunciations. Note, however, that you need to use a dictionary that pronounces the words in the variety of English that you are learning. The m-w site is for American English, so don't use that if you are learning British English pronunciation!

CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
FeathersOne of the toughest vowel sounds for me to pronounce is that of the word "early" (I don't know the precise name of it). Bird, earth, birth, and so on.
  1. Keep your tongue flat and relaxed.
  2. Close your mouth
  3. Start pronouncing the sound m (as m in mother) without opening the mouth, like when you imitate the motor sound mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
  4. Do not open your mouth
  5. Put your hand on your throat and try to feel vibrations there
  6. Now try to make short mmmmmm pause mmmm pause mmm pause mm pause m pause m pause all shorter and shorter
  7. That vibrating cut in your throat when you pronounce short m sound with your mouth closed is one part of the sound "er"


  8. Now stop this part of the practice

    1. Now shape your tongue into a tube
    2. Keeping the tongue into a tube as much as possible try to touch the top of your palate (the top of the roof of the mouth) with the top of your shaped tongue
    3. Open slightly a mouth
    4. Let the air pass through so you hear a soft hiss, the sound should be created deeper in your mouth
    5. Now go back, relax the tongue, create a tube, touch the top of the palate, and create a hiss several times until you feel comfortable


      1. Once you are there try instead of hiss to produce the same vibrations that you felt when you where producing mmmmm
      2. Now keeping your tongue in form of a tube at the top of your palate make the throat vibrations as short as you can
      3. Repeat this as much as you like


      4. This final sound is the final sound in "er" but it is never completely heard, it is getting to it what makes "er"

        1. Now open your mouth and say aaaa as in apple
        2. While you are pronouncing aaaaaa quickly shape your tongue touch the top of the palate and make a short throat vibrations
        3. Switch back to aaaaaa or eee as in empty


        4. Practice this several days and you are there.

          Combine "er" as you wish.
Hello CJ!

Thank you for the tip, but I'd rather learn MM's list and your general principles and exceptions by heart Emotion: smile, for the present. And, yes, I happen to be learning American English. I also visit this site every now and then,
[link]http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics /[/link]
... and do the physical training.
Hello Aperisic,

Thank you, but, to tell the truth, it's hard for me to understand the last part of your instruction.

As for me, I try to form my tongue, somehow appropriately, so as to make use of the pharynx as a resonating cavity... and try to make the sound not only muffled but also resonant. (Is my way wrong?)
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