By Chris Nkwocha and Yinka Fapetu
When we speak, read or spell, some of the letters of the English alphabet could be just tricky. The sound they make keep changing as they appear in different words. This change is more performed by vowels though sometimes a few consonants join in.
This explains why common letters are not reliable and must not be trusted as they cannot guide what we say when we read. Instead, they mislead us. You may know that the E in pet is not the same in Pete. And the O in not doesn’t sound like the O in note. While you may not appreciate the depth of this knowledge, it might delight you to know that the letter called A has about ten different sounds.
Obviously, the A in mat and mate are not the same. But far from obvious are the three different sounds of A in advantage. Acclamation also presents us with three different sounds of A. the A in want as well as the A in water though not the same are deceptive. The A in ago and the A in age are miles apart in sound.
If you think you can pronounce woman because you can say the three letter word man, you are grossly misguided just as your being able to say ball does not suggest you can say ballet. The A’s in care, parent, fare are unique. The A’s in father, village, and what are amazingly different in pronunciation.
Let’s now expose the tricks and changing nature of A using some word examples.
Sounds of the Letter A
Letter A says /ᴂ/ in
Letter A makes the /ə/ sound in
We hear the /ᴐ:/ sound of Letter A in
Letter A makes the /ɒ/ sound in
Letter A makes the /I/ sound in
We hear the /e/ sound of Letter A in
The /eə/ sound of Letter A is what we have in
Letter A makes the sound /a:/ in
Letter A sounds /Ʌ/ in
Letter A says its name /eɪ/ in
The words advantage and acclamation where we have four different sounds of A explains the “chameleoness” of letter A.
Now take this quiz and see if you can identify the sounds of letter A in the words.