Pure / ʊə /
In this Pronunciation Activation Pack we will be looking at the one sound on the British IPA chart that is in danger of disappearing in many words.
The sound is the / ʊə / sound which used to be heard in words like pure and poor.
I say used to be heard, because since the middle of the 20th Century, the / ʊə / sound has been replaced by the / ɔː / sound, so pure / pjʊə / is now / pjɔː /.
Though the / ʊə / sound has been replaced by the / ɔː / sound among the young, middle aged RP English speakers may still use the old / ʊə / sound in words such as:
- tour / tʊə /
- moor / mʊə /
- sure / ʃʊə /
For anyone who was born after the 1950s, myself included, these pronunciations sound rather old-fashioned and are difficult to produce.
Letter Combinations for / ʊə /
This gliding vowel sound has, or rather had, these letter combinations: OOR, OUR, URE, UR, UE, and UA.
Problem for Students
The biggest problem for students is that the / ʊə / sound is one of the least frequent vowel sounds in British English.
It is also becoming less frequent as time goes on, so students ought to follow the modern pronunciation and use the / ɔː / sound in place of the older / ʊə / sound.
Purists, particularly older ones, might disagree, but I would argue that the proof of the pudding is in the hearing.
Modern pronunciation uses the / ɔː / sound in place of the older / ʊə / sound in words like the 29 I have included in the Pronunciation Activator.
I have created some interesting exercises in the Pronunciation Activator where you will be asked to distinguish between the two sounds in order to help you get the pronunciation right every time.
Each time you do the Pronunciation Activator you will be given some random exercises from the database of exercises.
There is a good chance that some of the words used in this Pronunciation Activation Pack will be new to you.
To help you out, I have compiled a dictionary of the 29 words used in this Pronunciation Activation Pack.
You can download the dictionary as a PDF document from the resources link at the top left of the Pronunciation Activation Pack.
In addition to the Pronunciation Activator, I have included a Vocabulary Activator which will test your knowledge of these 29 words which had the / ʊə / sound but now have the / ɔː / sound.
You will be given random definitions of words each time you do the Vocabulary Activator.
This will also give you the opportunity to hear how each word is correctly pronounced in British English.
Add these words to your active vocabulary and make them your own.
Interactive British English IPA Chart
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