Long a - short a

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For a note on how AWE organizes its group of articles on vowels, basically by aspects of sound and of writing, see category:vowels.

You have found a link to 'short '-a-'', 'long -A-' or something similar. You may also want see a more detailed page at Speech sounds represented by the letter A.

Unfortunately, two separate traditions have developed of identifying 'long' vowels. (See Long vowel - short vowel for more detail.)

  • A short '-a-' is simply seen as the IPA: /æ/ sound of 'man', 'cat' and 'as' - though the actual sound varies in spoken accents, such as the so-called 'flat '-a-' in north-west England, particularly in Lancashire, where it is associated with the local pronunciation of 'flat cap', which has a vowel akin to IPA: /a/ of German Mann, etc.
  • Long '-a-' may be used in two ways (See Long vowel - short vowel for an explanation.)
    • As a pure vowel with an element of length, it represents the sound of (RP) 'father', 'dance' and 'bath': IPA: /ɑː/.
    • As a diphthongal vowel, it is usually understood as the sound of its name, and such words as 'late', 'name' and 'same': IPA: /eɪ/; but there are many other possibilities, and great subtleties in its precise pronunciation. For more on this, see Speech sounds represented by the letter A.
Much of the information on this page has been taken from McArthur and Bell (2004).