* English

See also a note on American English

The standard English consonant system is traditionally considered to comprise 17 obstruents (6 plosives, 2 affricates and 9 fricatives) and 7 sonorants (3 nasals, 2 liquids and 2 semivowel glides).

With the exception of the fricative /h/, the obstruents are usually classified in pairs as "voiceless and "voiced", although the presence or absence of periodicity in the signal resulting from laryngeal vibration is not a reliable feature distinguishing the two classes. They are better considered "fortis" (strong) and "lenis" (weak), with duration of constriction and intensity of the noise component signalling the distinction.

The six plosives are p b t d k g:

	Symbol		Word			Transcription
	p		pin			pIn
	b		bin			bIn
	t		tin			tIn
	d		din			dIn
	k		kin			kIn
	g		give			gIv
The "lenis" stops are most reliably voiced intervocalically; aspiration duration following the release in the fortis stops varies considerably with context, being practically absent following /s/, and varying with degree of stress syllable-initially.

The two phonemic affricates are tS and dZ:

	tS		chin			tSIn
	dZ		gin			dZIn
As with the lenis stop consonants, /dZ/ is most reliably voiced between vowels.

There are nine fricatives, f v T D s z S Z h:

	f		fin			fIn
	v		vim			vIm
	T		thin			TIn
	D		this			DIs
	s		sin			sIn
	z		zing			zIN
	S		shin			SIn
	Z		measure			"meZ@
	h		hit			hIt
Intervocalically the lenis fricatives are usually fully voiced, and they are often weakened to approximants (fricationless continuants) in unstressed position.

The sonorants are three nasals m n N, two liquids r l, and two sonorant glides w j:

	m		mock			mQk
	n		knock			nQk
	N		thing			TIN
	r		wrong			rQN
	l		long			lQN
	w		wasp			wQsp
	j		yacht			jQt
The English vowels fall into two classes, traditionally known as "short" and "long" but, owing to the contextual effect on duration of following "fortis" and "lenis" consonants (traditional "long" vowels preceding fortis consonants can be shorter than "short" vowels preceding lenis consonants), they are better described as "checked" (not occurring in a stressed syllable without a following consonant) and "free".

The checked vowels are I e { Q V U:

	I		pit			pIt
	e		pet			pet
	{		pat			p{t
	Q		pot			pQt
	V		cut			kVt
	U		put			pUt
There is a short central vowel, normally unstressed:
	@		another			@"nVD@
The free vowels comprise monophthongs and diphthongs, although no hard and fast line can be drawn between these categories. They can be placed in three groups according to their final quality: i: eI aI OI, u: @U aU, 3: A: O: I@ e@ U@. They are exemplified as follows:
	i:		ease			i:z
	eI		raise			reIz
	aI		rise			raIz
	OI		noise			nOIz

	u:		lose			lu:z
	@U		nose			n@Uz
	aU		rouse			raUz

	3:		furs			f3:z
	A:		stars			stA:z
	O:		cause			kO:z
	I@		fears			fI@z
	e@		stairs			ste@z
	U@		cures			kjU@z
The vowels /i:/ and /u:/ in unstressed syllables vary in their pronunciation between a close [i]/[u] and a more open [I]/[U]. Therefore it is suggested that /i/ and /u/ be used as indeterminacy symbols.
	i		happy			"h{pi
	u		into			"Intu


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Maintained by J.C. Wells. Created 1995 09 19. Last revised 1996 03 18. Note on AmE added 2000 01 18