Short A vs. Long A

Discussion in 'General Education' started by MorahMe, Nov 17, 2010.

  1. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Ok, I'm having an issue! The literacy program I'm using pronounces some words differently than I do. Until now, it wasn't really an issue, because it wasn't major words that my students would have to actually work with.

    Next week is the letter Aa; we're only learning the short Aa. I was just glancing ahead in the Supplementary Worksheets book, which I happen to have at home tonight, and noticed that two words that I-and the majority of my friends-have always pronounced with a long A amongst the pictures that the students will have to identify as beginning with A. The words are "ankle" and "anchor".

    Long A, or short A, and how do I approach this? Do I try to reteach myself before I start the letter on Monday, or do I just skip it, and possibly confuse the kids? :dunno:
     
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  3. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    /ayeng kel/ ?? /ayeng kor/ ?? seriously?

    dictionary dot com says /ang kul/ and /ang kor/.

    I say pronounce it as you would, which is more than likely how the kids will know it.
     
  4. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    I know all the dictionary sites pronounce it with a short A. The problem is that because most of my students are from Russian and Hebrew speaking homes, these words are actually brand new vocabulary words. However I teach it is how they will know it. So is it better to try and train myself in the correct pronunciation before next week, and possibly make mistakes the whole time, or to just teach it wrong in the first place?
     
  5. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I've always pronounced my name - Shannon - with a short a. When I moved, it took me a loooong time to get used to people pronouncing it with a long a sound. It still drives me nuts! ;)

    I would say, pronounce it the way you pronounce it. I think hearing it consistently the same way, whether right or wrong, is better than hearing you say it one way then another, then back to the first way, assuming you're like me and would probably forget the "new" way.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

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    (TeacherGroupie, hopefully scenting a linguistics discussion)

    MorahMe, would you say you pronounce the word bang with a long A?
     
  7. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Yes, bang is a long A. Except my father is sitting here telling me I'm pronouncing that wrong too, so maybe what I really need here is some speech therapy! :lol:
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I pronounce those words with what to me sounds like a long A.
     
  9. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Ceasar, I'm having the same issue. It sounds weird to me when I say it the way my father says it-which doesn't seem to be a short OR long A. If pictures of ankles and anchors weren't featured all over the practice papers for next week, I'd skip the words altogether. But these kids are SO not good about accepting when I say "and now we'll skip this one" and try to go on to the next thing.
     
  10. TeacherShelly

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    Nov 17, 2010

  11. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    TeacherShelly, that sounds about right...
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

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    Do you - either of you - think you use a different vowel in can or ram?
     
  13. TeacherShelly

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    can ran ram an - all the "a"s sound the same in these words to me.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

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    Bless you for finding that audio, Shelly - and do I recall correctly that you also are from New York?

    That's not a long A in quite the usual sense, though it certainly isn't a short A either: what it is, is something closer to a short E that's been nasalized, and this is fairly well known as a feature of New York English.

    In any case, MorahMe, I think you're worrying more than is appropriate: your students are doubtless familiar with pronunciations like yours, and they (and you) will do fine.
     
  15. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Yeah, I think I'm going to go with whatever comes out of my mouth the first time it comes up. Especially since I spelled out the word to a few separate people in separate places, and no two of them had the same pronunciation. If it's not just me, then I can't FOR SURE be wrong!
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

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    Nov 18, 2010

    There you go, then.
     
  17. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Thanks everyone! (I'd be interested in a bunch of recordings of people from around the world saying ankle, and hearing the different pronunciations of the A!)
     
  18. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    Me too. When I teach it to my dyslexic children, the 'ank' is taught as a group because the n tends to get swallowed that letter grouping is spoken.
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

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    MorahMe, that's an interesting question. I suspect that most of us say that word (and words like it - quite right, tracykaliski) with a vowel that isn't the same as the vowel that we use in, say, the word bad.

    Part of what's going on here is what the linguists call assimilation, or the tendency of speech sounds to be affected by the sounds that surround them. The sound that we write as <ng> (which is the sound before the /k/ in ankle) is a velar nasal - this means that it's pronounced way back in the mouth, with the tongue body bunched up there. The short-A sound, in contrast, is a low front vowel, which means it's pronounced in the front of the mouth but with the tongue relatively low. As we pronounce short A in ankle, we're already anticipating that velar nasal, so the tongue moves off course a bit: up and a little bit back, producing a sound that's closer to short E (which is a mid front vowel).

    In addition, to use tracykaliski's terminology, we tend to "swallow" nasal sounds that follow vowels, especially when another consonant follows the nasal. To be precise, the vowel carries the nasalization. This also changes the sound of the vowel somewhat, as anyone who's studied French can attest - and this is also why kids just learning to write tend to render bank as <bak> and band as <bad>.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  20. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Seeing as the first issue seems to be solved, here's another interesting question:

    Do you pronounce words like bag and tag with a long or short a?
     
  21. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I say bag and tag with short a, but my husband, who was raised 8 miles from me, says them with long a. His parents use short a. He's just bizarre.
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

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    kcjo, I'm betting he uses something closer to short E than to long A.
     
  23. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Bag and tag are definite short A.
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I say both of these with a long A sound. The same A sound that's in 'hate' or 'lake'...that's what I use in bag, tag, wagon, etc.
     
  25. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    Interesting. Where does that come from? Is it a local thing?
     
  26. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm from the Upper Midwest. I think we all say it like that up there.
     
  27. TeacherGroupie

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    Caesar, does lack rhyme with lake for you?
     
  28. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    No.
     
  29. TeacherGroupie

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    Is the vowel you say in bag closer to the one in lack or the one in lake?
     
  30. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Lake.
     
  31. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Me too, Caesar. We had a lot of fun in college trying to get my roommate from northern WI to say bag with a short a. It was impossible for her to do (and hilarious for us to listen to her attempts!).

    Just curious if it was only an upper midwest thing, or if it was said that way anywhere else.
     

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