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Hello,
I thought I understood the meaning of long and short vowels,but while I was watching an American English pronunciation video concerning vowels,I found that it's completely different.
I made a bit research in the net and this what I understood:
- Vowels underwent a change from :
Middle English → great vowel shift → Modern English
  • In Middle English,short vowels were made of one vowel like in a word ( mat) wherease long vowels ,a word was made of two vowels,the first one is long and the second one is either short or silent.(mate). Then in Modern English,some of those so-called long vowels became diphtongs ;others are long vowels,others short.n
  • There’s another explanation :A,E,I,O,U are called long vowels because they are pronounced in the way they are written as in "a" mate,"e" as in see and so on.Short vowels are also A.E.I.O.U ,but they are pronounced differently."a" cat,"e" set and so on.
And here what I was taught at the University
  • Long vowels are like ( i: , a: , u:)(vowels which have dots)
  • short vowels are like ( i , a , u)(vowels which don't ave dots)
  • diphthongs are like ( ei , ai , ...etc)(two vowels or sounds)
Please,could you help me understand the difference between "long and short vowels" ?
thanks a million
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hi;

You have described a lot of different ideas. Indeed, many hundreds of years ago, English vowels used to be pronounced much like the vowels in its ancestral languages - the low Germanic dialects. Over a period of many years, a change in pronunciation occurred, so in Modern English we pronounce words differently than they did in Middle English. Sometimes the spelling didn't change, so that's why our language is not written phoenetically today. Many words are written now as they were pronounced historically.

It would help you just to focus on how we pronounce vowels today. There may be some rare dialects that have the old pronunciation, but they are not standard American or British English.

Long vowels are called long because they are held for a longer time interval than the short vowel sounds. Dipthongs are two "pure vowel sounds" joined together, one after the other. You have to change the position of your mouth during the pronunciation of a dipthong as you slide from one vowel sound to the other.

Here is a great video on vowels and vowel sounds:
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There are no rules for understanding the difference. In the 15th century Chancery lawyers tried to impose an orthography to solve the problem(to which you refer), but since people did not and could not read legal papers, people just kept on speaking in their usual way. The "great vowel shift" does not help either, because the shift did not affect Scotland, Ireland and those parts of England from where the earlyAmerican colonists came. Pronunciation is different across the Atlantic as it is between the North and the South of Britain. I am sorry- you just have too learn the different pronunciations :-(
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Hi,

I would like to thank you for replying to my question.

In fact,when I saw that video,I understood that maybe it's matter of difference between American and British vowel sounds.

In American English, "a" is considered as a long vowel whenever it's pronounced like "ei" as in cake.I found example in the video which you find here :
hiSSmytb8-k


However,in British English in the word "cake",vowel sound "a" which is "ei" is rather a diphthong because it has two vowel sounds.It's showed in the video under this link :
DE8ALAzWKDU
where the word "snake" appeared.


Many thanks again
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The pronunciation of English is quite variable. Across the British Isles, there are many different accents. When I visit Scotland, I can barely understand people, even though their language is English. Indian English and Australian English have unique pronunciation. American English has regional variations too.
everlastinghopeI made a bit research in the net and this what I understood:
- Vowels underwent a change from :
Middle English → great vowel shift → Modern English
In Middle English,short vowels were made of one vowel like in a word ( mat) wherease long vowels ,a word was made of two vowels,the first one is long and the second one is either short or silent.(mate). Then in Modern English,some of those so-called long vowels became diphtongs ;others are long vowels,others short.
This is a historical view of the English vowel system. While it is true that the sounds of English developed this way historically, knowledge of this historical material is completely unnecessary for learning the correct pronunciation of modern English, of course.

everlastinghopeThere’s another explanation :A,E,I,O,U are called long vowels because they are pronounced in the way they are written as in "a" mate,"e" as in see and so on.Short vowels are also A.E.I.O.U ,but they are pronounced differently."a" cat,"e" set and so on.
This is a very typical way of explaining vowels in books about North American English for speakers of North American English (and possibly other Englishes, but I can't speak for them).

The purpose of this system is pedagogical - not scientific - so it's used mostly as a teaching aid for native speakers, because it is intimately connected with spelling. Note that the effect of adding a 'silent E' is to change a 'short' vowel to a 'long' vowel, for example:

mat, mate; Pete, pet; kit, kite; hop, hope; cub, cube.

'long' and 'short' are just convenient labels. The vowels in this system could just as easily have been labeled 'red' and 'green' vowels, or 'tragic' and 'comic' vowels. What these vowels are really composed of scientifically is irrelevant to the purpose of the system. Scientifically, they are a mish-mash of tense vowels, lax vowels, a semi-vowel, and diphthongs. Nevertheless, this terminology is very useful for native speakers, who already know how to pronounce the words correctly, but may need a little help in understanding the spelling system of the language.

everlastinghope And here what I was taught at the University
Long vowels are like ( i: , a: , u:)(vowels which have dots)
short vowels are like ( i , a , u)(vowels which don't ave dots)
diphthongs are like ( ei , ai , ...etc)(two vowels or sounds)
This system is what we might call scientific. It focuses on the sound independent of spelling. It is useful for everybody, regardless of native language. But be careful: The terms 'long' and 'short' don't mean the same thing in this system as they do in the system presented immediately above. Here 'long' and 'short' really mean 'a long time' and 'a short time'.
__________

In summary, you have presented three views of English vowels: a historical view, a pedagogical view, and a scientific view.

Don't be surprised if you come across yet another one or two ways of classifying vowels. Writers are likely to invent and use whatever system is most useful for the purpose they have in mind.

CJ
everlastinghopeIn American English, "a" is considered as a long vowel whenever it's pronounced like "ei" as in cake.I found example in the video which you find here ...
However,in British English in the word "cake",vowel sound "a" which is "ei" is rather a diphthong because it has two vowel sounds.It's showed in the video under this link ... where the word "snake" appeared.
everlastinghopemaybe it's matter of difference between American and British vowel sounds.
No! It's a matter of a difference in teaching methods and symbolization. The a in "snake" and in "cake" is the same sound in both American and British English. While it is true that many words are pronounced differently in American English from in British English, "snake" and "cake" are not among these words.

The American teacher used pedagogical terminology (as explained in my previous post), and illustrated the diphthong contained in the 'long a' by using a superscript y after the a. ay.

The British teacher used the 'scientific' symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) instead.

But the sound is the same no matter how it is symbolized in the graphics.

_________

FYI. The vowels in Kate, Pete, bite, and cute are the same in AmE and BrE.

The o in hope is not the same. Both are diphthongs, but they are different diphthongs.

The vowels in cat, pet, bit, and cut are the same.

The o in hop is not the same. The BrE vowel used here does not exist in AmE.

All r-colored vowels are different. BrE uses diphthongs instead of pronouncing the r.

AmE pronounces the r. ('pear', 'peer', 'pore', etc.)

CJ
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