153: 'Look at Luke!'

Compare the oo sound and other u sound.


Hi again, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 153rd episode.

We have a very special announcement today! We have just begun publishing this podcast in Spanish! I'm going to give our narrator, José, a moment to introduce himself and our new show, in Spanish. Then we'll come right back to our regular English.

José: Si usted es hablante nativo del español y todavia tiene dificultades para entender el inglés hablado, suscríbase a nuestro nuevo podcast en español y hablemos de la pronunciación del inglés en español. Mi nombre es José y estaré narrando los episodios en español de la Seattle Learning Academy.

Thanks, José. You can find this new podcast by searching for "Seattle Learning Academy" on iTunes. It's also available by going to www.pronuncian.com/podcast.

Let's move on to today's show.

I haven't compared vowel sounds in a while, so I thought that today I'd return to two vowels that easily get mixed up with each other: the other u (other u) and the oo sound (oo sound). We'll use the simple sentence, "Look at Luke." for practicing these two sounds.

As always, if you want to read the transcripts while listening to this show to increase your comprehension, go to www.pronuncian.com/podcast.

The word look, l-o-o-k, is pronounced with what is called the other u sound: (other u), look. The other u is also the vowel sound in the word put. Can you hear that the vowel sounds are the same: look, put? As nice as it would be to assume that a word spelled o-o is going to be pronounced with the oo sound, we cannot make that assumption. Other words that are spelled o-o that are pronounced with the other u sound include: foot, book, cook, good and stood.

The name Luke, L-u-k-e, is pronounced with the oo sound: (oo sound, Luke). The oo sound is also the vowel sound in the word soon. Can you hear that those vowel sounds are the same: Luke, soon? We call this sound the oo sound because it's the most common pronunciation for the o-o spelling. Some examples of the oo sound being spelled o-o include the words: food, school, room, fool, and moon.

So these are the sounds (other u) and (oo sound). Both of these sounds are created by lifting the back of our tongue and moving it toward the back of the soft palate. The soft palate is the soft, mushy area at the top, back of the mouth. The tongue is lifted just a little more for the oo sound than it is for the other u. The real difference between the sounds is in the shape of the lips. The oo sound is easier to recognize and produce, so I'm going to explain it first. In addition to the tongue being lifted in the back, the oo sound is created when the lips are brought into a small circle, almost as small as a w sound. You can feel the lips vibrate during the oo sound. Create the oo sound with me: (oo sound).

Repeat these oo sound words:


To transition into the other u, simply relax the lips. The back of the tongue does drop a little, but the major difference is in the lips. Create the other u sound with me: (other u).

Repeat these other u sounds after me:


Now let's play with our little sentence: Look at Luke. Remember, the first word, look is the other u, and the name Luke is the oo sound.

Repeat the sentence after me:

Look at Luke.


Look at Luke.

You can use this sentence to help you remember that the oo spelling is sometimes pronounced with the other u sound. To help you with this, I will also link to three lessons related to this show from this episode's transcripts. I will link to the spelling and pronunciation lessons for both the other u sound and the oo sound and also the lesson that specifically compares these sounds. All three of those lessons are also available in the new version of Pronunciation Pages, which you can find on the products page on Pronuncian.com. The ebook version comes with MP3 files to download, and the physical copy of the book comes with an MP3 CD, so you can practice your pronunciation all day long!

And don't forget, if you are a Spanish speaker, you can subscribe to our Spanish version of the American English pronunciation podcast by searching for "Seattle Learning Academy" in iTunes.

That's all for today everyone. This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. SLA is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening.