Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Semi Vowels

Semi Vowels

‘W’ and ‘Y’ are known as semi vowels.

Vowels are actually what we call உயிர் எழுத்துக்கள் in Tami and स्वर in Hindi. While they are pronounced, there is no friction.

While consonants are pronounced, there is a temporary obstruction in some part of the mouth. When the obstruction is released, the sound is produced. For example, when you pronounce ‘त’, your tongue touches the back part of the upper row of your teeth. Try pronouncing it if you want to be sure. If your tongue goes a little backward, it will be 'la'.

On the other hand, the air from the lungs flows freely through the mouth while vowels are produced. Try pronouncing அ ,ஆ, இ , ஈ etc.

While pronouncing semi vowels, there is an attempt to touch some part of the mouth, but it stops half way. Try pronouncing 'w' in 'what', where'...... and 'y' in 'young' 'year' etc.

Once, this point is understood, there won't be any confusion in the use of 'a' or 'an'.

The rule says that 'an' is used before singular words beginning with a vowel sound and 'a' is used before other singular words. This rule is quite easy to follow. But there are cases where one may get confused.

In the sentence, 'I met a European yesterday', 'European' is singular and it begins with a vowel sound. But the vowel letters ‘EU’ are pronounced like a semi vowel (यू/யூ ).

It is correct to say ,'My brother is working in a university'.

A few more examples where 'a' is used before semi vowel sounds:

I met him a year ago.
That is a one rupee note. ( 'One' is pronounced as ('wən')( 'வன்')
This is a one-man show.

But when 'u' stands for a vowel sound, 'an' is used.

E.g.:'This is an unbelievable story'.


Find out: What is 'Ghoti'?
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