Pronunciation exercises: /eɪ/ vs /aɪ/
The dipthongs /eɪ/ and /aɪ/ are different in all dialects of English. However /eɪ/ in some accents sounds very similar to /aɪ/ in others.
|Received Pronunciation and General American||[eɪ]||[aɪ]|
|Australian English||[æɪ]||[ɑe, ɑi]|
Many, if not most students will greatly improve their pronunciation by simply becoming aware of certain differences - together with a minimum of practice. A simple way of introducing the difficulty is with common words like type vs tape and light vs late.
- date - face - gate - hate - rain
- day - may - pay - ray - way
- fine - height - price - time
- die - my - pie - rye - why
/eɪ/ vs /aɪ/
- ail/ale - aisle/I'll/isle; bail - bile; bait - bite; bay - by/buy; day - die; fail - file; fate - fight; hate - height; lake - like; lane - line; late - light; mail/male - mile; make - Mike; mate - might; may - my; paint - pint; pale - pile; race - rice; rate - right; sane - sign; stale - style; tale/tail - tile; tame - thyme/time; tape - type; tray - try; wait/weight - white; way - why; whale - while;
- trade - tried; weighed - wide;
- prays - prize; rays - rise; ways - wise
The Rain in Spain
This famous song is used in the movie My Fair Lady to practice the /eɪ/ sound, which in cockney sounds more like /aɪ/ or [æɪ]. Note that cockneys don't confuse late and light because they pronounce [læɪt] and [lɑɪt].
The full sentence is The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.
The Australian /eɪ/ sounds [æɪ], which is heard as [aɪ] by many foreigners. Hence the nickname strine /straɪn/, a supposed shortening of [ɒˈstraɪliːən]. However in Australian English no confusion exists, because /aɪ/ is pronounced [ɑe] or [ɑi].
- Australian English phonology, Wikipedia.