Near-open front unrounded vowel
In General American /æ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "trap", "hat" and "brand" and also in "bath", "laugh" and "ask".
The IPA phonetic symbol [æ] corresponds to the /æ/ sound as pronounced by an American. The same phoneme has the sound [a] in Received Pronunciation, and that is the controversial notation used by the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
In Teflpedia a broad notation is used. This means that the difference between American [æ] and British [a] is not important, and both pronunciations are rendered as /æ/. Slashes are used for broad notation and brackets are used for narrow notation.
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /æ/ include the following:
- act - add - and - ankle - back - bad - band - bank - bat - black - can - carry - fact - family - flat - hand - happen - happy - land - man - match - matter - plan - sad - stand - thank - travel - understand - value - tax - track
- homophones: band - banned; pact - packed
/æ/ is always followed by one or more consonants. In derived words a single consonant is usually doubled (plan, planned; dad, daddy).
|"a" followed by a single consonant||"a" followed by a double consonant||"a" followed by two or more different consonants|
|/æ/||family, travel, value||daddy, happen, planned||ankle, match, stamp, stand|
|/eɪ/||information, make, paper||bass (in music)||ancient, scarce, strange, table|
- meringue /məˈræŋ/ - plaid /plæd/
- /ˈpætənt/: right to make an invention
- /ˈpeɪtənt/: obvious, evident
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.
To help students pronounce /æ/ there are three schools of thought:
- Practising the Spanish "a" followed rapidly by the "e" (however this would result in a diphthong like the one in "eye").
- A better method would be trying to produce a sound in between Spanish "a" [a] and Spanish "e" [e] at the same time, or opening the mouth to say [a] and trying to pronounce [e].
- The third alternative is to believe the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1966) that thinks /æ/ currently sounds [a] in Received Pronunciation. For a discussion see . This would result in sounding /æ/ as Spanish "a" and practising /ʌ/ as a different vowel, midway between Spanish "o" and Spanish "a".
- IPA vowel symbols for British English in dictionaries, section 6. /a/ versus /ӕ/