Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondVowel length. English has a number of short and long vowels. The contrast between long and short vowels like /ɪ/ and /iː/ is meaningful as in "ship" versus "sheep". Other languages may not make such a contrast or have different long and short vowels. The situation is complicated by the fact that in English, vowels are additionally lengthened before voiced consonants. Thus while /ɪ/ is an inherently short vowel, it is pronounced relatively short before a voiceless consonant like /p/ as in "rip" and somewhat longer before voice consonants like /b/ as in "rib". "Rip". "Rib".

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsIn a similar manner, while /iː/ is an inherently long vowel, it is pronounced relatively short before a voiceless consonant like /k/ as in "leak" and somewhat longer before voiced consonants like /g/ as in "league". "Leak". "League".

The feature of vowel length explained

English vowels can be long or short. This video explains that they are two types of vowel length in English. It is important that you understand the feature of vowel length because you can use it to convey a particular meaning. Check it out!

Please note that the notion of voiced and voiceless consonants, which is referred to in the video, is explained in Week 3, step 3.1 ‘Introduction to week 3: consonants’. An overview of the voiced and voiceless consonants in English is also provided there.

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This video is from the free online course:

English Pronunciation in a Global World

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam