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How can the IPA vowels be memorized?

General Tech Learning Aids/Tools

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User

( 5 months ago )

Memorizing IPA consonants is trivially easy; each symbol represents one sound, and that sound can be described with a variety of parameters about manner of articulation, etc.

The IPA vowels, however, are a whole other beast. How can they be memorized if describing them is not so easy? Of course, some symbols are just English vowels, which makes them pretty self-explanatory, but other ones like the back medium vowels are a bit trickier. Is there any method to the madness?

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User

( 5 months ago )

If you memorize them while learning to pronounce them you're aided by muscle-memory. They are defined after how they are pronounced after all. The vowels are hard to explain but a tutor can show how to do them. That's how they've traditionally been taught, from mentor to student.

Take [ɑ]: relax the lips, open the mouth just about as far as it goes, try to press the tongue down, do not let the jaw move forwards, vocalize. A mentor can tell you when your mouth is in the right position. Once you've hit the right spot enough times, you've reprogrammed your hardware, and might be moving the mouth into position even when reading or thinking about IPA, which is fine :)

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