This is a pronunciation lesson, which is part of the global pronunciation course that we are starting. So today we’re beginning with the sound /eɪ/ as in ‘page’, but first, let’s start by defining what is phonetics and what do we mean by ‘The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)’.
Phonetics is the scientific study of the sounds of language. Phonetics includes how speech sounds are produced, the physical nature of the sounds themselves, and how speech is heard by listeners.
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a comprehensive symbol set that lets you transcribe the sounds of any language in the world. Many IPA symbols come from Latin characters and resemble English (such as, /b/), so you’ll probably feel fairly comfortable with them. However, other symbols may seem foreign to you, such as /ʃ/, /ŋ/ or the sound which we are studying today is /eɪ/.
You can read more about phonetics in this lesson: How to pronounce any English word | Global Phonetics course with examples
The Dialogue – At the Doctor
PATIENT: Good evening, doctor.
DOCTOR: Good evening, sir. What’s your trouble?
PATIENT: I haven’t been feeling well lately.
DOCTOR: What exactly is the problem?
PATIENT: I often feel quite sick because I have had a lot of pain in the stomach for several days. I’ve also had severe headaches for over two days.
DOCTOR: What’s your appetite like?
PATIENT: Not at all good. I don’t feel like eating anything. I feel full up all the time.
DOCTOR: Have you had any fever?
PATIENT: Well, I do feel feverish all the time. I’ve also had a bad taste in the mouth since I’ve been sick.
DOCTOR: All right, let me take your temperature first. There! Give me your wrist, please. There’s nothing wrong with the pulse. Now take off your pullover. And your shirt too. Loosen your clothes a little. I’ll examine you if you lie down on that couch. Do you feel any pain here?
PATIENT: Yes, some.
DOCTOR: And here?
PATIENT: Oh, that’s quite painful!
DOCTOR: All right. You may get dressed now.
PATIENT: I hope there’s nothing serious, doctor?
DOCTOR: No, nothing serious. I’m prescribing two kinds of tablets. Take one before meals. And the other after meals for three days. Don’t eat any fried or spicy food. Drink milk and have milk foods as much as you can. And do take some rest.
PATIENT: Do I need to stay away from work, doctor?
DOCTOR: No, not at all. Just take it easy and have rest whenever you can. Come and see me if the trouble does not go quickly.
PATIENT: Thank you very much, doctor. Good-bye!
Understanding the Dialogue
Read the dialogue silently two or three times, then try to answer these questions:
1. Two people are talking in this conversation. Who are they?
2. Is the doctor a man or a woman? Do we know? Is the patient a man or a woman?
3. Where does the dialogue take place?
— at the doctor’s sitting-room
— at the doctor’s consulting room
— in the patient’s house
4. What is the patient’s trouble?
5. What does the doctor give him?
6. What kind of food can the patient have?
7. What shouldn’t he eat?
8. Can he go to work?
The meaning of difficult words
These are the meanings of some difficult words and expressions that you have faced in the dialogue:
take it easy: don’t work too hard
lately: in the recent past
get dressed: put on clothes
sick: not well
stay away: avoid
full up: completely full
loosen: make loose
Analysis of the pronunciation
1. Read the dialogue again and note the way these words are said:
Listen carefully to the vowel sound in the following words. The syllable containing this sound is printed in italics (if the word has more than one syllable).
You will notice that it is the same sound as in these words:
gain, gate, hate, and wait.
Listen and say aloud the above words. The phonetic symbol generally used to indicate this vowel sound is /eɪ/.
2. Practise this sound with the help of the following words. The syllable containing this sound is printed in italics (if the word has more than one syllable).
3. Listen to the dialogue again. Note carefully the pronunciations of these words:
Each of these words has more than one syllable (or part). One of the syllables in each word is accented, that is, emphasized or made prominent. Furthermore, you must have noted that these words are said like this:
The vertical mark or stroke placed before a syllable means that the following syllable is accented.
1. At the beginning of the dialogue, the patient and the doctor meet. What do they say to each other?
PATIENT: Good evening, doctor.
DOCTOR: Good evening, sir.
At the end of the dialogue, the patient leaves the doctor after the consultation. What do they say to each other?
2. When two people meet, they greet each other. They tell each other that they are happy to see each other. In English, the most common way of greeting is:
People say ‘Good morning‘ in the morning. It is used before noon, before lunch-time. ‘Good afternoon‘ is used after midday, and after lunch, until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. After that, people greet each other, saying ‘Good evening’, until bed-time.
So, ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening‘ are formal ways of greeting. They are used between strangers, or by people who meet in official or business situations — like the patient and the doctor in our dialogue. When relatives or friends meet, they use more informal ways of greeting.
Hi (pronounced ‘high’): This is a very informal way of greeting, used between close friends or relatives.
Hello: This form of greeting is used between friends and relatives. It is also used for starting a conversation on the telephone, or to answer a telephone call.
Morning/Afternoon/Evening: These are shortened forms of ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening.’ They are used as informal greetings.
3. When people take leave of each other, they usually say ‘Goodbye!’ This is rather formal. Between friends, the common way of leave-taking is ‘Bye‘ and ‘Bye-bye!’ They may also use ‘See you!‘ or ‘Be seeing you!‘. Some people say ‘Cheerio!‘ or ‘Ta-ta!‘ when they take leave. But these are very informal expressions.
‘Good night!‘ is used when leaving someone at night, especially before going to bed.
4. What will you say in the following situations?
a. You meet a friend of your own age on a bus.
b. You meet the senior manager of the office where you work as a cleric.
c. You take leave of your friend’s three years old daughter,
d. You meet your best friend at the cinema,
e. You take leave of the members of an interviewing committee after your interview is over.
Watch, Listen, and Learn
This is a video presented by Sounds American youtube channel where you can improve your accent with pronunciation exercises recorded by a professional speech therapist. Find out about the most frequent spelling rules for the /eɪ/ vowel sound in this video.
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