IPA phoneme /aʊ/
In English the IPA phonetic symbol /aʊ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "mouth", "how" and "out". In some parts of the English speaking world this sound is more similar to [ʌʊ]. Other alternatives are [aw] and [ʌw]. See IPA phonetic symbol [w].
Whatever the actual sound, /aʊ/ is used as broad notation.
In strict IPA diphthongs need an inverted breve under their less prominent vowel: /aʊ̯/. 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.
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /aʊ/ include the following:
- with "ou":
- /aʊ/: about - account - amount - announce - around - background - blouse - bound - boundary - cloud - compound - council - counsel - count - county - discount - doubt - encounter - flounder - foul - found - founder - ground - house - loud - mount - mountain - mouse - mouth - noun - out - outcome - output - pound - profound - proud - round - scout - shout - sound - south - surround - thousand - trout - (verb wind)
- /aʊə/: flour - hour - our (unstressed /ɑːr/) - sour
- with "ow":
- /aʊ/: allow - (inclination) - brow - brown - browse - clown - cow - crowd - crown - down - drown - eyebrow - frown - how - now - owl - powder - (quarrel) - towel - town - vowel - wow
- /aʊə/: coward - flower - power - shower - tower
Exceptions (i.e., words which are not spelled with "ou" or "ow") are uncommon words:
- Maori /ˈmaʊriː/
- McLeod /məˈklaʊd/
- sauerkraut /ˈsaʊərkraʊt/
- umlaut /ˈʊmlaʊt/
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.
- Decoding exercises: "ou"
- Decoding exercises: "ow"
- Decoding and spelling exercises: /əʊ/ vs /aʊ/
- Spelling exercises: "ou" vs "ow"