It is striking that Japanese users of English have difficulty not only in hearing and making the differences between the sounds r and l and between the sounds æ and ʌ, but also in distinguishing the corresponding spellings. They tend to confuse not only the sounds but also the letters r and l, a and u.
Because Japanese has only one liquid and only one open vowel, lamb, ram, and rum are all mapped onto Japanese ラム ramu. And we get confusions like this.It’s meant to be rum and raisin.
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The inspiration for the book with the Russian sunflower illustration that I reproduced a few days ago was John Trim’s English Pronunciation Illustrated (CUP 1975), with illustrations by Peter Kneebone. Here are some of their items for practising æ and ʌ. Surprisingly, they offer none for practising r and l.
It was John Trim who first initiated me into phonetics at Cambridge University, and he is someone whom I have always held in great admiration. I think it’s a little sad that the main thing he is known for in the wider world is this perfectly respectable but, alas, not very deeply intellectual book. Relatively few people know of his work as Director of CILT (the UK’s Centre for Information on Language Teaching) or on defining threshold levels in language teaching for the Council of Europe.