By Peter Burleigh
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Additional resources for A Manual of English Phonetics and Phonology
Two horizontal lines mark the mid-close and mid-open positions. Frontness or backness is indicated by the horizontal position of the symbols: The further left the symbol, the more front the part of the tongue that is raised highest when articulating the corresponding sound. T h u s the symbols on the left of the vowel chart represent front vowels. The further right the symbol, the more back the part of the tongue involved. The symbols on the right, then, represent back vowels. It goes without saying that the vowels in the central area of the chart are central vowels.
The symbol representing the first element of / a o / may be quite misleading. It looks as though it is identical with the first element of / a i / , and this is what we would expect from a consistent phonetic alphabet. Unfortunately, however, even though we use the same symbol, the [a] in / a o / is somewhat different from the [a] in / a i / . T h e first element in /au/ is very similar to /a:/, but slightly more close and more front. (3) O p e n ing diphthongs move towards a more open vowel. They d o not exist in English.
Tl, and nose /nouz/ and note /nsut/, and also within t h e pairs bumble /bAmbl/ and bump /bAmp/, and bells /belz/ and belt /belt/. In the second member of each pair, the duration of the sound in question is shortened through the i n fluence of the following fortis consonant. s This is especially important for the distinction between words like bead /bi:d/ a n d beat IbvAl, or cab /kaeb/ and cap /kasp/, and serve /s3:v/ and surf /s3:f/, to give two m o r e examples, where the only difference in terms of distinctive features is the intensity of articulation of the final consonants.
A Manual of English Phonetics and Phonology by Peter Burleigh