What In the World Is a tuopuh?

May 31st, 2011 | By | Category: Uncategorized

There are two kinds of sounds in English – sounds that are voiced (the voice is on) and sounds that are voiceless (the voice is off). There are 16 single consonants and consonant digraphs that are voiced:

  • /b/, /d/, /g/, /j/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /q/, /r/, /v/, /w/, /y/, /z/, and /th/ (as in “the”, “this” & “their”)

There are 8 single and 3 consonant digraphs that are voiceless (just air as if whispered):

  • /c/, /ch/, /f/, /h/, /k/, /p/, /s/, /sh/, /t/, /x/ and /th/ (as in “thumb”, “birthday” and “mouth”)

It is essential that teachers NOT do two things when teaching the sounds of letters:

  1. Voiced sounds, by the nature of being “voiced”, already have an /uh/ (aka – schwa) after the letter sound. For example, the sound of the letter B sounds like “buh” and the hard G sounds like “guh”. The key is that the “uh” needs to be very short, so teachers should NOT hold on to the “uh” sound. Actually, the only voiced sounds that have the hint of “uh” would be B, D, G, J, Q, W and Y. The M, N, R, V, Z and voiced TH letter sounds do not have the schwa sound at all.
  2. Unvoiced sounds are just air, like a “whisper”. Teachers should NOT add “uh” to any of them! Common mistakes some teachers make is to say “cuh” for the sound of C or K, “puh” for the sound of P, and “tuh” for the sound of T. Oddly enough, they don’t say “fuh” for F, “huh” for H, “nuh” for N, or “suh” for S.

If for some reason, a teacher puts too much “uh” after the letter sounds of T + O + P during a blending activity, the result would be “tuh” . . . “ah” . . . “puh”, and a struggling student could conceivably say “tuhahpuh” and then write “tuopuh”! EEGADS!!

2 Comments to “What In the World Is a tuopuh?”

  1. Donna Ludlum says:

    Thank you for helping me discriminate between “voiced” and not voiced. I worked with children with autism, have taken classes on autism,, and taken verbal behavior. NO ONE has explained “voiced” and “voiceless” as well as you! Thank you so much!

  2. Rehma Beales says:

    Excellent site. Great post. Well done.

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