Pronunciation Of The Long “A” Sound

(And Why There Is A Problem With What You Have Been Taught Previously)

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!ou have probably heard of the term — “The Long A”.  But perhaps what you have NOT been told (even by people who are supposed to be experts) is that there really is NO SUCH THING as “The Long A”!!!

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!hat I mean is that there is not one single sound that the term “Long A” represents.  There are literally THREE Different Sounds that traditional English teachers will tell you is simply “The Long A”  —  (Just like with the Three Schwa Sounds).

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Those Sounds Are…

The Long A / Long E Diphthong:  /eiː/

.

(this is the most common, and occurs in most words)

.

The Long A / Short I Diphthong:  /eɪ/

.

(this is not as common, and only occurs when the “A” is in front of the letters “L & R”)

.

The TRUE Long A:  /e/

.

(this is the only one which is NOT a Diphthong when speaking at a normal pace — and occurs when the “A” is in-front-of the letters: B, [hard] C, D, K, P, Q, T, & X [when it has the “ks” sound])

Okay…  So What The Heck Is A Diphthong?

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!he term Diphthong is a grammatical term which refers to when a vowel sound actually contains two vowel sounds sequentially.  The “Long A / Long E Diphthong” starts with the sound of “The Long A” (as we have been taught to know it — what, In The Common Tongue is called “The TRUE Long A”) — but then, the sound progresses to sounding like the “Long Letter E”, right before pronouncing the next letter in the word.

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!ry saying the word “Plane”.  But say it very slowly.  It ends up sounding like “Plaaayyyeeen”.  However — the faster you say the word, the less noticeable the Diphthong becomes.  Perhaps that is why most teachers do not teach it.  (Or — more likely, because it is just easier for them to pretend it does not exist and just call all three sounds “The Long A”.)

Not Important - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

Thinks To Himself:  If I Just Tell Them That It Is Not Important…  Maybe They will Stop Asking So Many Questions!  I Thought Teaching English Was Supposed To Be Easy!  😡

Okay…  So Then, Why Has No One Ever Mentioned This Before?

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!ell, first of all — some people do!  But even the most famous pronunciation “expert” on YouTube STILL gets it wrong!  But, from my experience of being in the English teaching world…  There are two possibilities that are the most common.  (And often-times both of the things below are happening at the same time;  at least to some degree.)

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!! The teachers — themselves — have not been taught this previously, and so their brains just do not comprehend it.  Even if they learn about it in the books.  They just don’t hear it.  And even if someone points it out.  Their brains just don’t “get it”.

Nothing To See - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

It is just like a person’s “taste buds”.  If a person has not been accustomed to certain fine foods — then they will usually not even taste the complexities of certain food — and it might actually taste horrible to them.  They would rather have a slice of pizza, instead of some delicious Apples & Brie Cheese.  But if they become accustomed to the food — they will then start to actually taste the complexities of flavor.  (However — if they didn’t like it the first time…  most people never “go back for a second helping”.)

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!! There is actually a very insidious form of prejudice in the world of English instruction.  There is a very common idea among teachers and administrators — that if they try to teach their students anything complex — that the students just won’t “get it”.  And then they rationalize that prejudice with the notion that if their students experience anything “difficult” — then they will be discouraged, and want to give up.  (Even though it is supposed to be the job of the teacher to MAKE it clear and to ENCOURAGE their students when needed!)

This Of Course Is Proof That They Do Not Respect You…

Angry Mob - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

Okay, Okay.  You Can Put Your Torches Down.  I Have A Better Solution…

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!earning that your teachers (or more likely the administrators at the school) do not really respect your ability to learn kinda sucks.  But the crazy thing is…  They actually think that they ARE being VERY respectful.  They think that if anything is difficult, then you will be sad.  🙁

(But then, at the same time, they tell you that leaning English is “Really Difficult!”)  😐

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!o there is no point getting mad at them.  They won’t change.  But I think that you CAN “get it” — no matter how complex it may be.  And really…  It Is all very easy!  I will explain it to you very simply.  Besides — there is nothing new to learn here.  You’ve already been making these sounds all your life.  😉

Phew - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

First Let Us Un-Learn The Mistakes

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!early all traditional text-books, teachers, YouTube videos, and lessons will try to explain the pronunciation of “The Long A” by giving you examples of words.  (Which shows that they are trying to explain to you, how to do something which you already know how to do!)  😆

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!ut the mistake that they make (and this mistake is virtually universal) is that they give examples of words which all have different pronunciations of the so-called “Long A”.

.

  • Made
  • Way
  • Air
  • Care
  • Tale

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!ow repeat all of those words and LISTEN to how the so-called “Long A” sound is different, depending on the letters that are directly after it.  And don’t be this guy…

I Cant Hear Me - GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!

But If I hear the truth, then that will change everything…  NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!t MAY be harder — at first — to hear the difference between “Made” and “Way”.  This is especially ture when you say “Made” very slowly.  But the more quickly you say the word, you will notice the the “eee” sound that you can clearly hear with “Way” disappears before making the “d” sound in “Made”.

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!t should be a LOT easier to hear the difference in sounds between the first two words, and the last three:  “Air”, “Care”, and “Tale”.  In those words — instead of a “ee” sound — you have something much more like a “Short i”.  Strangely enough — with these words — it is easier to here the “ih” sound when speaking at a normal pace — rather than speaking more slowly.

Now Let’s Re-Learn It The Correct Way…

The Different Pronunciations Of The So-Called “Long A” Sound

The Long A / Long E Diphthong:  /eiː/

.

(this is the most common, and occurs in most words)

.

The Long A / Short I Diphthong:  /eɪ/

.

(this is not very common, and only occurs when the “A” is in front of the letters “L & R”)

.

The TRUE Long A:  /e/

.

(this is also not very common, and is the only one which is NOT a Diphthong when speaking at a normal pace.  This occurs when the “A” is in-front-of the letters: B, [hard] C, D, K, P, Q, T, & X [when it has the “ks” sound])

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!The Only Time That “The Long A” Is A TRUE Long A/e/ — And NOT A Diphthong — Is When It Is In-Front-Of A Consonant That Is A “Stopped Consonant Sound” (like what often happens with all the letters listed above) — Or Sometimes When It Is A Syllabic Consonant — Like With The “Soft Letter G” or The Letter “J”.

Notice!  —  Even this is debatable.  That is because — like I mentioned above — if you say the word slowly — then the “Long E” sound of the Diphthong returns.  But if you say the word at a normal pace — it disappears.

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!Whenever The “A” Is In Front Of The Letters “L” or “R” — It Is Pronounced As A Long A / Short I Diphthong/eɪ/ — But This Is More Audible When The Word Is Spoken At A Normal Speed.

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!In Literally EVERY Other Situation — What Is Traditionally Called A “Long A” — Is Actually A Long A / Long E Diphthong/eiː/ —  This Can Be Heard Clearly At Almost Any Speed — But Is Much More Clear At A Slower Speed.

(But Now You May Be Thinking)

Okay Great!

So How Does This Help Me?

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!irst of all — it helps because The Truth is important.  Secondly — because ignoring the truth is LITERALLY what the word “Ignorance” means.  (It does not mean being “stupid” or “un-educated”.  It means:  purposely ignoring the truth…  Please do not be ignorant.)  😉

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!nd — it is important because, I imagine that this website will not be the only place that you get information about learning English.  So when you read about, or hear someone say something about “The Long A” — now you will be better equipped to make use of that information — or disregard it, if it is wrong.

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!lso because — throughout The GiveMeSomeEnglish!!! Pronunciation Portal — I use the correct terms and the correct symbols that you see listed above.  So perhaps you found your way to this post from looking up a word on that site…  So now the importance has been proven to you!  😎

| GiveMeSomeEnglish!!!nd regarding those symbols…  Nearly every teacher who makes videos, and every text-book I’ve seen uses different symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to represent the various sounds.  Just know that I have PURPOSELY chosen to use different symbols than what others use because I have EXTENSIVELY studied them — and have determined that the symbols which I use ARE the correct symbols for The Common Tongue

Where-As  — It is quite clear to me that other teachers & text-books seem to just repeat whatever they find elsewhere — disregarding the fact that there are different accents, all over the world.  And they do this, seemingly, without ever thinking about it using their own logic.  More On The Symbols Soon!  😎

So That Is Why…  It is sometimes necessary to do a little “Un-Learning” of the so-called “Traditional Way”.  Even if it does not appear to have any “practical” value or change much in the outer world, it CERTAINLY has value as it adds to your own Knowledge & Comprehension.  Then when others who speak, clear do not Know — You can rest assured that you indeed Do!  And instead of arguing with them about it — you can simply be secure in your own Knowledge & Comprehension.  😎

And That’s That!

Have An Excellent Day!

😉

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