how to pronounce the vowel i i and when it is ai

rani01

New Member
ALGERIA ARABIC
Hello everybody,
I am always confused especially when uttering words with i i and i ai i. Thank you for your answer.
 
  • cyberpedant

    Senior Member
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    Welcome to the forum Rani01.

    "words with i i and i ai"
    Your problem is unclear to me. You'll need to give us the exact words causing the confusion. English spelling is extraordinarily "undisciplined."
     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    You mean like in "rip" and "ride"?
    That's the thing he/she is meaning, certainly.
    There's much confusion about that one even for people speaking rather good English, and there's even a song that makes a point out of that, certainly you'll know it (and the artist), I can't remember the artist at the moment, the lines go approximately like that:
    "you say either, I say either, you say neither, I say neither"
    where it's phonetically: /you say [i:]ther, I say [ai]ther, you say n[i:]ther, I say n[ai]ther/

    I'd be curious too if there are some rules a non-native speaker could make use of, even if there seem to be cases where both is possible.
     

    pieanne

    Senior Member
    Belgium/French
    - When the letter 'i' is followed by a single consonant and one (of several) vowels, it's pronounced [aï] Ex ripe

    - When it's followed by two (or several) consonants, it's pronounced ex differ

    - When it's in a monosyllabic word (hence accentuated) and followed by a consonant, it's pronounced ex rip
     

    Elwintee

    Senior Member
    England English
    - When the letter 'i' is followed by a single consonant and one (of several) vowels, it's pronounced [aï] Ex ripe

    - When it's followed by two (or several) consonants, it's pronounced ex differ

    I'm sorry to say there are so many exceptions to almost any rule in English pronunciation that the only answer is to consult a dictionary in each case, or listen to native speakers of standard English as much as possible. The exception that immediately came to mind with regard to Pieanne's rule (which is generally true) is the word 'light' and its similar relatives: 'might', 'right' etc. There is also 'mind', 'rind', 'find' [all i's pronounced 'ai'].

     

    sokol

    Senior Member
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Pieanne, the 'open-syllable-rule' you described of course is of some help (and anyway any English learner will have to learn first in order to be able to pronounce the language at least approximately correct), but as already stated there are so many exceptions which are the really different thing here.

    And in some cases, more than one possibility is correct.
    For example, the name "Regina": one can hear Regna as well as Reg[ai]na (or is the latter wrong, or used only in some regions/countries?).

    Then there is "spiracle": according to the open syllable rule this should be spracle, and an Austrian singer pronounces the word exactly like that (Google for Soap & Skin, Spiracle) - as would I, by the way -, but my dictionary even gives sp[aiə]racle (or alternatively sp[ai]racle). But I guess we can't hope for rules for the exceptions.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    - When the letter 'i' is followed by a single consonant and one (of several) vowels, it's pronounced [aï] Ex ripe

    Opening my dictionary pretty much at random, I found these exceptions in about four column inches: bigamist, bigot, bikini, biliary. Not to mention the thousands and thousands of words ending in -ability.
    I agree with Elwin ~ there are so many spelling rules, and so many exceptions to them, that I'd recommend students just learn each new word as it arises. (Unfortunately, learning written English requires a huge feat of memory.)
     
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