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November 03, 2013


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Now, how do I find out how to teach my American & Spanish speaking students to say the nasal vowels and vocalic encounters (that's the Portuguese term, don't know the English equivalent) that we write with a tile "ão" (ões, etc)? These sounds don't exist in English. just this morning my bilingual son was effortlessly pronouncing não & pão (no, bread) with the Portuguese vowels and with an American accent -- flat vowel.

I tell students to feel the air coming through their noses too as they say "ãã"(maybe I could write ahnnnn") and they do that sole vowel, but putting them in words like são (are) or não & pão is harder.

Your recording helped me figure out the difference, I wonder if I recorded my son saying both if students would be able to hear it...

Thank you, Jamie! And ditto the fascinating.

We had a foreign exchange student from Norway who tried to teach us a few words and could barely pick herself up off the floor we botched it so badly. She tried so hard to show me how to form my mouth but it just wouldn't come out right.

Why, oh, why was I never taught to form certain vowels with my mouth when I spoke? She said that's how they're all taught over there.

I wonder if people with musical training are any better at distinguishing unfamiliar vowels? It seems possible to me that someone trained to listen carefully to sounds might carry that ability from music to language. Is there any research that support that?

Jamie, you're my sort of geek :-) I could subsist on a steady diet of posts like this.

I first became aware of the mechanics of producing particular sounds when I took Phonetics & Phonology in grad school part 1, and it made speaking my foreign languages (Russian and French) and teaching ESL so very much easier. I make my students do ridiculously exaggerated things with their lips, teeth, and tongues until they can feel how the sounds are made. They are always reticent at first, but then they start hearing the elusive th's or w or the American r come out of their very own mouths. Those are the best days.

Entropy, if you start to pay attention to the way your mouth feels when you produce sounds you can distinguish, you'll eventually be able to manipulate the vocal tract to create the sounds you want to try.

Lilian, it might help them to put their fingers up on the bridge of the nose to feel the vibrations that come along with nasalized vowels. I made an mp3 file for students in my resonance disorders class that contrasts oral and nasal vowels. Happy to share if it might be helpful.

PWF, I know that there's a relationship between musical proficiency and tonal languages, but I haven't read anything about a connection at the level of individual vowels.

This stuff fascinates me. I'm a sucker for those "where are you from" accent quizzes.

I still don't hear a difference between thought and hot. :)

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