back to course outline

Vowels in RP and GA                        

Not sure of the terms RP and GA? Try this link

Wells (Longmans Pronunciation Dictionary) uses the term "GA" (General American) to refer to the accent spoken by "the majority of Americans, namely those who do not have a noticeable Eastern or Southern accent" (xiv). This page will outline the main differences between RP and GA.

Personally I prefer to use the terms BE (General British English) and AE (General American English), and I might forget myself and use them in these pages and in my lectures. But for the moment we'll try to stick to Wells's "RP" anf "GA".

General differences

Vowel length is not distinctive in GA, as it is in RP, and so the length-mark () can be omitted.
For instance, lax vowels can be lengthened in GA for emphasis: a GA speaker can say that something is
bad or that it is veeery baaad .

In the LDP Wells keeps the length-mark for tense vowels in his GA transcriptions ( ), and I have kept it in English Pronunciation for Icelanders in the GA answers in the Key, but I shall leave it out on this page.

If you are transcribing GA English, you may omit all length-marks in this course, and write the tense vowels .

Lax vowels


                                   

The LOT vowel in GA is the same as the PALM vowel (tense - see below) - the LOT sound in RP is missing in GA.
TRAP and BATH words have different vowels in RP: in RP BATH has the same vowel as PALM (tense - see below) in RP, but in GA BATH words have the same vowel as TRAP words.

Tense vowels


                                 

 

In RP BATH and PALM both have the vowel , but in GA BATH has .
In GA the vowel doubles for LOT and PALM. Many Americans also use the vowel for THOUGHT words - caught, law, call.

Diphthongs

Summary  TRAP BATH PALM LOT

Back to top
back to course outline back to Phonetics back to Pétur Knútsson's home page

If you have any questions mail me at peturk@hi.is.