Vowel Phonemes in English


"Vowel Phonemes in English"

By Jeremiah Cameron, Ph.D. (October 31, 2001)

Let's repeat: Most reading, though not all, takes place by mentally (that is, by moving stimuli from the eye centers in the brain to the hearing centers in the LEFT TEMPORAL LOBE) transferring what is on the printed page into the structures of speech (words, consonant sounds, vowel sounds, grammar, arrangements of words and phrases and idioms) of the reader.

It is the hearing areas of the back brain—the thalamus in the mid-brain as well as WERNICKE'S AREA—that comprehends the "rough" sounds called consonants and the "musical" sounds called vowels. These basic sounds are called PHONEMES, which, though differing widely among speakers, permit speakers of a certain dialect (AND ALL LANGUAGES ARE DIALECTS that contain a multiplicity of sub-dialects) to understand each other.

Few teachers are well trained enough to teach the children language and most writers of books are totally ignorant of the fact that phonemes of vowels; consonants; pitch; juncture; and stress are as important to reading as they are to speaking: Notice that most commas and periods on this page, as they are in the books that children have to read, are placed where we HAVE TO pause (JUNCTURE). Meanings or comprehensions are determined by where we have to or do not have to pause.

Linguists and neurologists argue, as I have been trying to tell teachers and school superintendents, that children ought to be made aware of ALL the phonemes: 14–17 vowels; 5–6 vowel-like diphthongs; 25 constants; 3–4 pitches; 3–4 pauses or junctures; and 3–4 stresses. It is in the LEFT HEMISPHERE that these phonemes carry the MEANING that is in language and that is of the printed page to be read.

It is nothing short of criminal that teachers at all levels (for every teacher is also a reading teacher who must be responsible for teaching his students the vocabulary and idiomatic structures of what he teaches, whether it be physics or football) have not been taught what a language is and how its structures must be understood as the children read.

After all these years of linguistic science, teachers and textbooks are still misrepresenting the vowels and consonants, at the basis of speech and reading: No wonder the children are having such difficulty with speaking and writing. They are still being told that there are 5 VOWELS—A, E, I, O, & U, and SOMETIMES Y & W. Angels of intelligence defend us—and the poor kids! The children and teachers use at least 14 to 17 vowels daily—and over and over: The vowels in all these words differ. Count them as you go: dAy; gEt; bE; bIt; cAt; fAther; dO; pUt; gO; slAw; nOt; hEr; fathEr; papA. Notice the different sounds of 'O' in these words: gO; gOt; tO; Other; Ought. This is not arcane academics. The children are using these 14–17 VOWELS everyday and seeing them represented on the printed page everyday. And they have been MISLED! Vowels are sounds—not the letters of the alphabet that TRY to represent them in writing. In UN-stressed syllables most vowels will sound like the "UH" in papA: SCHWA.

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