Being Turkish, I think my command of English phonology suffers from L1 transfer.
Consonants seem to be fine, in that I can produce them on command, and can transcribe others' production of them more or less accurately, but vowels are a bit problematic for me. While I am unsure as to whether I produce them or not in natural speech, let me detail the issues I face with each group, and the abnormal mergers in my idiolect:
- [a], [ɑ], [ʌ]: Merged and indistinguishable. Actual production is probably the variety in Turkish that I have seen transcribed as [a] and [ɑ] both.
[i], [ɪ]: Into an [i].Solved. Realised that 'ship' with the [i] of sheep sounds absurd in contrast to the native [ɪ], which sounds something like [i] and [ə] mashed up together.
- [ɒ], [o], [ɔ]: Into an [o].
[e], [ɛ], [ɛː]: [e], [e] and [eː].The spread helped me to notice once again that the fancy looking letter of the pair [ɛ] is a bit closer to the schwa. 'Pen' with a [e] sounds atrocious.
- [ʊ], [u]: Into an [u].
- [ɜː]: Previously perceived it as short [œ], now indistinguishable from [eː].
How can I learn to hear these as distinct vowels? Particularly interested in the A-group, as it seems Arabic, another language I am learning, had situational allophony classically between [a] and [ɑ], without which it just does not sound right.