Thursday, November 13, 2008

Next Sound Up: /v/

So let's continue with the trickiest sounds series!  In past posts we covered /r/ and /th/ up next is /v/. This sound is challenging for many including: Cantonese, Czech, Farsi, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Ilokano, Japanese, Korean, Malayalam, Malaysian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese speakers amongst others. So it clearly is worth looking at.

The /v/ is commonly substituted with /w/or /b/. So lets look at the features of these three sounds and find what they hold in common and what makes them different.

The /v/ is a fricative, the air is released with friction. It is made with the top teeth resting lightly on the bottom lip. The teeth must rest lightly so the air can escape and not be stopped by the teeth.

Substituting /w/ for /v/ is far more common, so we will begin there. /w/ is made with the lips rounded and without any of the articulators touching. There is no obstruction to the air flow at all. If you look in the mirror you can see the difference clearly. Relax your facial muscles rest the teeth on the lip and let the air flow out with friction. The /v/ production in fact is the same as with /f/. The only difference between /f/ and /v/ is that you "voice" the /v/.

Go from /f/ to /w/ to feel the difference in the position and in the manner that the air is released. At first when you see /v/ in a sentence such as: The violin is very fine. You will find less distortion of the word if you substitute /f/ for /v/.

If you are substituting /b/ for /v/, look in the mirror. When you say the sentence "A very violent villain." Are you letting the lips press together and stop the air? Start with the teeth resting on the bottom lip and let the air escape with friction. The difference between /b/ and /v/ is that for /b/ the air is stopped by the lips being pressed together. With /v/ the air is never completely stopped just slightly obstructed causing friction.

Luckily both the /w/ and /b/ substitution is easily seen in a mirror. Making practice a bit easier than with the /r/.

Write down a few sentence that you say in the course of a day and highlight any /v/'s in the sentence. Practice saying it with your "new" pronunciation.

I hope you found this helpful. Please write with any questions or comments, I will be happy to answer!

Lynn founder of Accent Master

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