Confusing title, right? This is because the difference in pronunciation cannot be made obvious in writing. The English alphabets are only 26 in number but the vowels and consonants together render around 40 different sounds! The alphabet ‘a’ alone has 3 different sounds – /a/ as in “father” , /æ/ as in “cat” and /eI/ as in “way”. Additionally, the alphabets ‘o’ and ‘u’ have sounds similar to ‘a’ in the words ‘dog’ (US accent) and ‘up’.
If you are a native speaker of English, all this comes in naturally but for others who learn the alphabet sounds in just one way, this is way too difficult to implement in speech. Many people do not even know the importance of factors like ‘stress on syllable’ and ‘phonetics’, which contribute to correct speech. Any language when spoken by a person who is not a native speaker sounds funny and with the same vowel rendering different sounds, the English language might possibly be sounding horrendous when spoken by others! And here I am, having to train my child in this difficult-to-master-to-speak language! With 56 letters, my mother tongue ‘Malayalam’ makes sure that a word can be read in just one, unique way. How nice!
So, when we were going through the fall vocabulary sheet given from the school, I said “acorn” with the /a/ (as in father) sound and Adith immediately corrected me saying it is “acorn” (a sounds like/eI/ as in ‘way’). Listen to it. I smiled. Here was a profoundly deaf child who is yet to master many of the sounds in the English language correcting my speech :D. The fact that he could clearly make that distinction in sound elated me. That was purely through listening, not via lip reading! Wow! I am feeling so thankful that Adith is in this era where there are so many advancements in hearing aid technology that enables him to listen and make out these subtle differences. It would not have been the case for parents who raised their hard of hearing child a few decades ago. Grateful to the pioneers and the current trainers of Auditory Verbal therapy and the researchers who makes this possible!!
Ending with a lovely quote on gratitude: