Which one is correct/appropriate to ask

Which one is correct/appropriate to ask

How many vowels are there in the English alphabet?

Or

How many vowels are there in the English Language?

Or are they both correct/appropriate?

Answer

Both are appropriate, but they ask two different things.

How many vowels are there in the English alphabet? asks about the characters in the writing system.

  • The traditional answer is “A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y”, so five or six—but other characters may be employed to represent vowels in words of foreign origin.

But as I’m sure you’re aware, English has far more vowel sounds than characters to represent them. How many vowels are there in the English language? asks about the distinctive sounds—phonemes—in the spoken language.

  • The answer is hard to pin down, because some individuals and dialects make more distinctions than others, and it’s hard to say whether reduced and unstressed vowels and the “r-colored vowels” in non-rhotic dialects should be treated as distinct phonemes . A conservative answer would be these, in IPA notation: i, ɪ, eɪ, ɛ, aʊ, aɪ, æ, ɑ, ɒ, ɔ, oʊ (or əʊ), ɔɪ, ʊ, u, ʌ, so at least 15.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Sarah , Answer Author : StoneyB on hiatus

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