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As I know, in modern English the vowel [ʌ] is no more pronounced as open-mid back unrounded. Now in most dialects it's a central vowel [ä] or [ɐ]. Though in dictionaries and textbooks it's still described as back. Why does such a contradiction exist? What do you think?
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Hi (and welcome to EnglishForward Emotion: smile Smile),
ecossaisAs I know, in modern English the vowel [ʌ] is no more pronounced as...
ouch!
The vowel [ʌ] must always be pronounced the same, since it's an IPA symbol that describe a sound. IPA symbols don't change, they are defined that way, and they remain so, so that we can describe some sounds.
What happens is that dictionaries use a set of symbols even if they don't represent the real pronunciation, so you have a kind of "phonemic transcription", and not real "phonetic transcriptions". For example, from a dictionary you can understand that "bug" and "sub" have the same vowel, or that "teacher" and "better" rhyme, but it doesn't tell you how to pronounce them exactly.
If dictionaries had real phonetic transcriptions, "but" would be more like /bɐt/ (in some American dialects), but then it would be highly dependent on the dialect chosen as the standard.
So yes, it's confusing. Dictionaries are not exact or perfect. The set of sounds and features you use in your speech depends on your accent, and dictionaries don't take that into account. As an example, every dictionary includes /t/ in transcriptions of words like "twenty", but many Americans skip those kinds of /t/ after /n/, and so they just say "twenny"... yet no American dictionary skips it in the transcription.
KooyeenThe vowel [ʌ] must always be pronounced the same, since it's an IPA symbol that describe a sound. IPA symbols don't change, they are defined that way, and they remain so, so that we can describe some sounds.
Hmm... But don't you think this is a little bit eh...old-fashioned? Let's see. In older dictionaries (and in many books in linguistic, too) there weren't made the differences between /ɔ/ and /ɔ:/, /ə/ and /ə:/. But nowadays if you, using broad transcription, describe /ɜ:/ and /ɒ/ as /ə:/ and /ɔ/ your work would seem outdated. I think that not we must adjust to a defined set of IPA symbols but we use it to write phonemes(and phones) of our language properly so we can change one IPA symbol to another, if this set of IPA symbols reproduces older or wrong pronunciation.
KooyeenIf dictionaries had real phonetic transcriptions, "but" would be more like /bɐt/ (in some American dialects), but then it would be highly dependent on the dialect chosen as the standard.
In most contemporary "standard" dialects - RP, GenAU, NZ as well as GenAm /ʌ/ is no longer [ʌ]
KooyeenHi (and welcome to EnglishForward
Thank you. BTW, between you and me Emotion: wink, I'm a linguist, and you shouldn't trouble yourself to tell me in detail basic linguistic termsEmotion: wink

Though, thank you for the answer.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Ok, lol... then...
I don't know if I understand your problem, but you are right, transcriptions in dictionaries are not accurate. But I don't know what to say, because it varies from dictionary to dictionary...I'll just give you a few examples taken from Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:

Thought: /θɔːt/ - both US and UK.
If they had chosen a better transcription they would have written /θɑt/ for US English. That's how some Americans say it, but some are not cot-caught merged, so some might say something like /θɒt/ or /θɔt/. In the UK, maybe it's often more like /θot/, but I don't feel too sure about all these sounds, LOL.
So, as you can see, Longman's choice to just write /θɔːt/ can't be accurate, and it's up to the reader to understand how it would come out in their own accent. It can be confusing.

Damn: /dæm/ - both US and UK.
This seems ok, but the truth is that many (maybe most) Americans actually say something like /dɛəm/ or /deəm/, like a kind of diphthong. So, this is another case where the true phonetic transcription would be different.

So what you have is that dictionaries have phonemic transcriptions which use IPA symbols but are not phonetic transcriptions... which is odd. Some dictionaries at least use their own set of symbols, which makes their phonemic transcriptions less confusing.
Dictionaries that use IPA should use them correctly and switch to phonetic transcriptions, in my opinion. It would be nice to have a dictionary where you can find pretty accurate phonetic transcriptions in the most common accents/dialects. Something like: Ten (US /tɛn/ - US Regional & AAVE /tɪn/ - Etc.) or Bee (US /biː/ - London /bɪi/ /bei/ - Etc.)... That would be so cool! I suspect doing that would be so difficult that to have accurate transcriptions that make sense... basic IPA wouldn't be enough.
Hi! Thank you for this interesting discussion and for your answer.Your opinion is important for me.
First of all, my problem concerns teaching English as a second language. It's very bad that teachers instructing pupils how to pronounce /ʌ/ usually say that you should pronounce /o/ but not rounding your lips Emotion: smile
But in fact, the /ʌ/ is closer to /a/ in most dialects, not to /o/. Pronunciation of /dæm/ or /θɔːt/ varies in different ways in different regions, but /ʌ/ is not so vague. This is usually /a/ or /ɐ/ in RP, GenAm, AU, NZ (though, it differs from /æ/, /ɑ:/, /ɑ/, /ɒ/ and there's not any merge). You can find in the net the phonetic maps and see the contemporary position of the vowel.
During last century linguists have changed their system of the English transcription(at least of RP) to a more accurate and proper way

/ə:/→/ɜ:/
/ɔ/→/ɒ/
/u/→/ʊ/

/ou/→/əʊ/
/uə/→/ʊə/
/au/→/aʊ/
But unfortunately... they've forgotEmotion: smile to change /ʌ/→/ɐ/.This is my vision of the problem.
KooyeenSomething like: Ten (US /tɛn/ - US Regional & AAVE /tɪn/ - Etc.) or Bee (US /biː/ - London /bɪi/ /bei/ - Etc.)...
It's a very interesting proposal but this dictionary will be very large and it'll be difficult to include all possible variations. Better to have read a book on English dialects. These deferences of pronunciation is not unsystematic. Thus /ɒ/ in RP corresponds to /ɑ/ in GenAm, /ɜ:/ to /ɜ˞/ and so on. I suggest you know it.Emotion: smile
Best regards.
Oh, now I get it. Yes, since they changed the other phonemes, why not /ʌ/? In RP it often sounds like /a/ to me, but I am not an expert, hehe. Yeah, they are not consistent, but after all that's not the only inconsistency you can find in dictionaries. I guess inexperienced learners would need a kind of tutor or teacher who helped them with pronunciation and provided a "set of sounds" to use. I had to learn all that by myself though, LOL. Here in Italy teachers usually put LITTLE effort on pronunciation.
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Hi!

An interesting discussion, so I share your view. However, it is important to make it clear that many phonetic symbols remains for historical reasons in contemporary dictionaries. Hence, it is preferable to have a look at the vowel chart of Received Pronunciation (RP), for instance. After all, this chart reflects better how these symbols are used and how a number of vowels have shifted in several varieties of current English.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Received_Pronunciation#Vowels

Good luck in your teaching.