Some remarks from different posters in recent days suggest that it's time to discuss again the conflict between two different meanings of "long" and of "short".
When we were in elementary school, the teacher taught us that the "a" in "rake" was "long a" and the "a" in "rack" was short "a". And the vowels in "peek", "pike", "poke", "root" were long while the vowels in "peck", "pick", "pock", and "rut" were short.
There is another meaning for each of "short vowel" and "long vowel", and it's the one phoneticians are most likely to have in mind when they use those terms. That is, a short vowel is one whose duration is short, and a long vowel is one whose duration is long. That is the meaning of "long" and "short" that corresponds to the presence or absence of a colon after a vowel in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

I've read that there is a connection between the two concepts, in that the vowels that are now referred to by elementary school teachers as "long" and "short" were indeed long or short in duration when the words were applied to them. In modern English, the vowel in "peek" may be pronounced with relatively long duration or relatively short duration, but it's still a high front vowel. And the vowel in "pick" may be pronounced with either long or short duration without making it anything but an near-high, near-front vowel.
It would be good if everyone would avoid using the terms "long vowel" and "short vowel" as we learned them in elementary school, saving them to describe actual relative duration.
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Bob Cunningham filted:
When we were in elementary school, the teacher taught us that the "a" in "rake" was "long a" and the ... the vowels in "peek", "pike", "poke", "root" were long while the vowels in "peck", "pick", "pock", and "rut" were short.

That's "root" rhymes with "toot", not "root" rhymes with "foot" (a different short counterpart)...nor is it "root" sounds like "route", which may or may not sound like "rout"..
The long/short thing doesn't work when you need the "caught" (aka "lawn" for the CIC) vowel...or the "father" (or "swat") vowel either for that matter..r
Bob Cunningham filted:

When we were in elementary school, the teacher taught us ... the vowels in "peck", "pick", "pock", and "rut" were short.

That's "root" rhymes with "toot", not "root" rhymes with "foot" (adifferent short counterpart)...nor is it "root" sounds like "route", which ... doesn't work when you need the "caught" (aka"lawn" for the CIC) vowel...or the "father" (or "swat") vowel either for thatmatter..r

The use of macron or breve over a vowel to mark it as "long" or "short" gives us only a limited number of vowel symbols. If we accept for the sake of the discussion the number of vowels in English as given at

http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/staff/tench/vowels.html
that is, twenty, then the orthographic vowels , , , , and could represent only ten vowels as "long" or "short" vowels according to the traditional system. Adding an with a long macron and an with a long breve would only bring the number up to twelve vowels (and with a macron would now have to represent /ju/ so that it would stand in contrast to /u/, represented by with a macron).

In the traditional system, an with a macron can represent not only the diphthong /oU/ but also the simple vowel in words such as "order" and "galore." See, for example, the pronunciation in The Century Dictionary for that last word. If we accept that usage that is, that an with a macron in front of an represents /Or/ and we accept /ju/ as a vowel separate from /u/, then the highest number of vowels that that can be represented by the
macron-for-long-vowel-breve-for-short-vowel system is thirteen. That leaves at least seven which must be represented in some other manner.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
} Bob Cunningham filted:
}>
}>When we were in elementary school, the teacher taught us }>that the "a" in "rake" was "long a" and the "a" in "rack" }>was short "a". And the vowels in "peek", "pike", "poke", }>"root" were long while the vowels in "peck", "pick", "pock", }>and "rut" were short.
}
} That's "root" rhymes with "toot", not "root" rhymes with "foot" (a different } short counterpart)...nor is it "root" sounds like "route", which may or may not } sound like "rout"..
}
} The long/short thing doesn't work when you need the "caught" (aka "lawn" for the } CIC) vowel...or the "father" (or "swat") vowel either for that matter..r

I heard a British-sounding speaker on (the) television today pronouncing "what" with the "aw" vowel (where the "swat" vowel might have been less surprising to me).

R. J. Valentine
R J Valentine filted:
I heard a British-sounding speaker on (the) television today pronouncing "what" with the "aw" vowel (where the "swat" vowel might have been less surprising to me).

Was she dressed all in white, and selling chewing gum?...r
On 28 Jan 2005 20:09:37 -0800, R H Draney
Bob Cunningham filted:

When we were in elementary school, the teacher taught us ... the vowels in "peck", "pick", "pock", and "rut" were short.

That's "root" rhymes with "toot", not "root" rhymes with "foot" (a different short counterpart)...nor is it "root" sounds like "route", ... when you need the "caught" (aka "lawn" for the CIC) vowel...or the "father" (or "swat") vowel either for that matter..r

I suspect you didn't read and understand the entirety of my posting. The idea I tried to convey was that the "long" vs "short" concept we learned in grade school has little relevance to a discussion of phonetics, except that it can be harmful by confusing people with regard to what the colon means in IPA transcriptions.
I don't care what vowels people want to call "long" and "short" in the traditional sense. To me the only value that concept has is to bring back fond memories of my days in the first grade when I was first being introduced to the wonderful experience of reading.
By the way, for the benefit of a newcomer who may be puzzled by unexplained abbreviations, I think I've read that "CIC" stands for "'caught' is 'cot'", referring to a form of speech in which "caught" and "cot" are pronounced with the same vowel. I don't know what term would be used to describe speech in which the difference between the pronunciations of "caught" and "cot" is so slight as to be barely detectable.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
By the way, for the benefit of a newcomer who may be puzzled by unexplained abbreviations, I think I've read that "CIC" stands for "'caught' is 'cot'"

Actually, CIC stands for "cot is caught".

Steny '08!
By the way, for the benefit of a newcomer who ... think I've read that "CIC" stands for "'caught' is 'cot'"

Actually, CIC stands for "cot is caught".

It can stand for "cigar is chameleon" for all I really care.

The basic idea is so ill-defined that it leaves people with a simplistic, misleading idea of how pronunciations vary from one community to another and from one person to another.
I continue to believe that differences between "cot" and "caught" can be practically a continuum from identical through somewhat different to completely different pronunciations, so an attempted distinction between "caught is cot" and "caught is not cot" dialects is an exercise in futility.
...
} I continue to believe that differences between "cot" and } "caught" can be practically a continuum from identical } through somewhat different to completely different } pronunciations, so an attempted distinction between "caught } is cot" and "caught is not cot" dialects is an exercise in } futility.
Kind of like the values of 1 and 2, eh? North and south? Young and old?

R. J. Valentine
Central and back?
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