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Let’s Learn To Say Vowels

 

Vowel sounds

Vowel sounds are produced when the air from the lungs flows through the throat and oral area without any obstruction.

The air flows continuously vibrate the vocal fold to produce sounds. If the vocal folds stop vibrating, no sounds are produced.

The figure below shows the air flows to produce vowel sounds.


Figure the airflows to produce vowels
Source: http://shamelesssinging.com

Vowels category


Source: http://blog.maketaketeach.com

Generally, there are eight vowel sounds in modern Malay language. The sounds are divided into three groups. These groups are depending on the sound production of each vowel.

  1. Front vowels : [i], [e], [ε], [a]
  2. Central vowels : [ə]     
  3. Back vowels : [o], [u], [כ]

Production of vowel sounds

Sound production of each vowel is different and depends mainly by the shape of the mouth. The shapes of the lip can be rounded, or flat and the location of the tongue can be either in the front, central or the back of the mouth.

The closure of nasal cavity avoids the air from exiting the nostrils that may produce hypernasality.

The figure below shows the mouth structure that involves in the production of vowel sounds.


Figure of the moth structure
Source www.bukharis.net


Figure of flat and rounded lips
Source: assignment.oum.edu.my

Details giving below describe the differences of how different vowel sounds are produced.

Vowel

Type

How to produce vowel

Example

[i]

Front close vowel

  1. Flat lips
  2. Frontal tongue lifted as high as possible toward the hard palate but not touching it.

Ikan
Bila
Tali

[e]

Front partially close vowel

  1. Flat lips
  2. Frontal tongue lifted as high as possible towards the gum

Enak
Teleng
Tauge

[ε]

Front partially open vowel

  1. Flat lips
  2. Frontal tongue lifted halfway towards the gum

Esa
Belek
Tauge

[a]

Front open vowel

  1. Flat lips
  2. Frontal lips downward as low as possible

Awan
Kadar
Siapa

[ə]

Central vowel

  1. Flat shapes in between flat and rounded
  2. Frontal tongue lifted upward toward the hard palate but not touching it

Emak
Penat
Sosialisme

[u]

Back close vowel

  1. Rounded lips
  2. Back of the tongue lifted as high as possible towards the soft palate but not touching it

Ubat
Bulat
Batu

[o]

Back partially close vowels

  1. Rounded lips
  2. Back of the tongue lifted as high as possible towards the soft palate but not touching it

Orang
Tolong
Koko

[כ]

Back partially open vowel

  1. Rounded lips
  2. Back of the tongue lifted low halfway

Ombak
Bolot
Teko

Video:

  1. Front close vowel [i]
  2. Front partially close vowel [e]
  3. Front partially open vowel [ɛ]
  4. Front open vowel [a]
  5. Central vowel [ə]
  6. Back close vowel [u]
  7. Back partially close vowels [o]
  8. Back partially open vowel [ɔ]

Reference

  1. Roslan Daud, (2012). Penghasilan Bunyi Vokal. Diambil dari pbahasa.dbp.my/wordpress/?p=207assignment.oum.edu.my./uploadasg/HBML1203SMP/18544/691121115118_151346_final.pdf, pada 1 September 2015

 

Last Reviewed : 09 October 2016
Writer : Rasyikah bt. Mansur
Translator   Nadwah bt. Onwi
Accreditor : Fairus bt. Mukhtar