r-tense vowels

We haven’t finished with ‘r’ yet. When it’s followed by a vowel, it has a different effect than when it’s followed by another consonant or the end of the word, like this:

spellingIPAas in …fallback
aɛːsquare, mareae
ehere, queeree
iæɪfire, liaria
oɔːbore, moreau
uɪʊcure, pureue
ooboorish, touringui

Though these are very different from the r-lax table, only 1 of them is new: the sound in ‘square’ and ‘mare.’ All the rest have been seen before. So to spell the words above, we will have ‘square,’ ‘mare,’ ‘here,’ ‘quere,’ ‘fire,’ ‘lire,’ ‘bor,’ ‘mor,’ ‘cure,’ ‘pure,’ ‘boorish,’ ‘tooring.’ The new sound can also occur where it isn’t followed by ‘r’+consonant, in which case we use the fallback spelling ‘ae,’ as in

spellingIPAas in …
aeɛːbares, pared, airbase

which means these words will be spelled ‘baerz,’ ‘paerz,’ ‘aerbase.’ A non-rhotic speaker might prefer ‘baez,’ ‘paez,’ ‘aebase,’ but I think we’ve spent enough time with that.

Isaac Pitman thought that ‘ɛː’ wasn’t really a vowel in English—he said that ‘bear’/‘fair’/‘square’ would be spelled ‘bair’/‘fair’/‘sqwair’; and that ‘her’/‘fir’/‘cur’ would be pronounced (all differently) as the lax vowels ‘e’, ‘ɪ,’ ‘ʌ,’ with the r-colouring glossed over. We acknowledge that these are all different.

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