IPA phoneme /aɪ/
In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /aɪ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "price", "fly" and "time". This diphthong is informally called “long I” and a bit more formally "the long sound of the letter I".
In strict IPA diphthongs need an inverted breve under their less prominent vowel: /aɪ̯/. However the notation we are using does not have the symbol /a/ by itself, and therefore we know that a vowel after /a/ has an implied inverted breve.
This vowel can be pronounced as [aɪ̯], [ʌɪ̯] or (in Australian English) [ɑe̯]. In Southern American English this phoneme can be the monophthong [aː].
At the advice of Clive Upton the Concise Oxford Dictionary altered the British tradition and now uses /ʌɪ/ instead of /aɪ/; later Oxford Dictionaries Online followed the same convention. The phonetician Jack Windsor Lewis says "the verdict on /ʌɪ/ alongside /aʊ/ must be that it is a very regrettable departure from EPD14b [Daniel Jones English Pronouncing Dictionary] that would be better abandoned in future."
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /aɪ/ include the following:
- with "ie": die - lie - pie - tie
- with "i": bind - blind - child - climb - find - hi - I - kind - mild - mind - pint - wild - wind (verb) - whilst
- with "i" and magic e: bike - drive - file - fine - ice - life - like - line - live (adj.) - mile - mine - nice - pine - price - quite - rise - side - site - size - smile - strike - time - while - white - wide - wife - wine - write
- with "ig": sign
- with "igh": bright - fight - flight - fright - height - high - light - might - night - right - sigh - sight - slight - thigh - tight
- with the letter "y": by - cry - dry - dye - fly - fry - my - rye - shy - sky - style - try - type - why
- others: buy - guy; eye
- with "i"
- followed by one consonant: finally - identity - item - primary - private
- followed by two or more consonants: behind - library - title
- followed by a vowel: idea - science - society - variety - trial
- with "i" and magic e: arrive - decide - define - describe - exercise - inside - outside - provide - realiseBrE/realize - surprise
- with "ig": align - assign - design - resign
- with "y" and magic e: analyseBrE/analyzeAmE
- with "y"
- ending in stressed /aɪ/: apply - deny - July - nearby - rely - reply - supply
- ending in /aɪ/ with secondary stress: identify - occupy - qualify - satisfy - specify
- other: cycle - hypothesis - psychology
Less common words
- with "i":
- with magic e: bite, knife, precise, pride, rice, slice, wipe, wise
- followed by one consonant: binary, ivory, Niger, Nigeria, North Carolina, South Carolina, tiger
- followed by two or more consonants: bible, grind
- followed by a vowel: biography, Brian, diagnose, Diana, Diane, Iowa, lion, Ohio
- with "igh": Brighton
- with "y": byte, dynamic, hyaena,BrE hyena,AmE hygiene, python, rhyme, Ryan, spy, sty, tycoon, Wyoming
- with "ei": apartheid, gesundheit, kaleidoscope, leitmotif, poltergeist, Rottweiler
- with "ey": Cheyenne /ʃaɪˈæn, ʃaɪˈen/, geyserAmE
- with "ae": maestro, tae kwon do
- with "ai": aikido, bonsai, daiquiri, haiku, Hawaii /həˈwaɪiː/, kaiser, samurai, Taiwan, Thailand
- with "ay": papaya, Paraguay, Uruguay
- coyote: /kaɪˈəʊ.tiː, ˈkaɪ.oʊt,AmE kɔɪˈəʊ.tiːBrE/
/aɪ/ in combination with /r/
In some words "ir" and "yr" are pronounced /aɪər/, and in others they are pronounced /aɪr/.
- /aɪə/: acquire - choir - desire - entire - fire - hire - Ireland - iron /aɪərn/ - inspire - Ireland - require - retire - BrE - umpire - wire -
- /aɪ/: gyrate - irate - pirate - polystyrene - pyromaniac - spiral - virus
- /aɪ/ or /aɪə/: environment
- aisle - I'll - isle; bite - byte; buy - by; cite - site - sight; die - dye; fined - find; high - hi; I - eye; knight - night; mined - mind; right - rite - write; sighed - side; sighs - size; sight - site; time - thyme; whine - wine; why - Y.
- live /lɪv/ (verb), /laɪv/ (adjective)
- multiply /ˈmʌltɪplaɪ/ (verb), /ˈmʌltəpliː/ (adverb)
- wind /wɪnd/ (air movement), /waɪnd/ (to tighten a spring)
- /ə, ɪ, aɪ/: direct, director, directory
- either /ˈaɪðər, ˈiːðər/, neither /ˈnaɪðər, ˈniːðər/
- fragile /ˈfrædʒaɪl,BrE ˈfrædʒəlAmE/
- geyser /ˈɡaɪzər,AmE ˈɡiːzərBrE/
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following sections aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
- Oxford Dictionaries Online, Key to pronunciations (British and World English dictionary). See ʌɪ as in my.
- Jack Windsor Lewis, IPA vowel symbols for British English in dictionaries, Section 8. /ʌɪ/ versus /aɪ/.
- Magic e
- Decoding the letter I
- Decoding and spelling exercises: /ɪ/ vs /aɪ/
- Pronunciation exercises: /eɪ/ vs /aɪ/