English Vowels: The Long and Short of It

  • Linda Shockey
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


This paper explores the use of the terms “long” and “short” to describe two classes of English vowels with different distributions. We look at phonemic vowel length as it once existed in English and observe that the old quantity distinction does not map comfortably into modern “long” and “short”. Alternative terms for the two vowel types are critically discussed and perceptual correlates examined Finally, a pilot study on the pedagogic use of these terms is reported. We conclude that while there is a need to describe such oppositions, the optimal vocabulary for doing so has not yet surfaced.


Short Vowel Syllable Structure Stressed Syllable Vowel Duration Vowel Length 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of English Language and LiteratureThe University of ReadingReadingUK

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