Each of the following sentences repeats a particular vowel sound (underlined in bold) which is represented by the appropriate phonetic symbol (full explanation of the phonetic symbols can be found here). The sentences have been constructed so that you can isolate a particular sound to practice, if required.
ɪ Medea was the infamous Princess of the Kingdom of Colchis
i: She was daughter to King Aeetes, keeper of the Golden Fleece
e Jason led his best men to help find the legendary Fleece
ae Additional traps were set that hampered capture of the Fleece
ʌ But Medea lusted after Jason and hurried to undo her Father
ɜ: She killed the serpent guarding the fleeces and murdered her brother hurling his
……..dismembered corpse into the sea.
ə Aeetes pursued Medea and Jason, gathering up his sons remains
ɑ: After the Argo returned to Iolcus, Jason was aghast to learn of his father’s passing.
ɒ His uncle,Pelias, was now in office blocking Jason’s right to the throne of Iolcus
ɔ: Medea promised the daughters of Pelias that her sorcery would restore his youthfulness
ʊ They should have looked as Medea cooked up her revenge
u: Meanwhile, Jason grew fretful at his futile exclusion and so wooed a new bride
ɪə A tearful Medea feared she was no longer a peer in Jason’s plans
eə Jason did not care that Medea would not be spared punishment
uə Cruel Medea was sure to find a cure and lure Jason into her plot
eɪ Medea savoured her base plans as her children played safely
ɒɪ Coiled with rage, her anger boiled as she poisoned her rival
aʊ The poisoned crown about Glauke’s head made her shout aloud
aɪ The sight of Jason’s wife as she cried out in her plight was terrifying
əʊ Goaded by Jason’s loathing, Medea strove to oppose his betrayal
ɔɪə Medea was a destroyer
aɪə Jason’s had sired her children but his betrayal fired her revenge
aʊə In the final hours Medea cowered at the sour turn of fate
eɪə There was no fairer pair of boys than her sons for whom she cared
əʊə Her heart beat slower as Medea lowered the dagger
Common consonant shifts and drops
h How homeless Medea hated the betrayal by her husband, Jason.
Listen out for the h being dropped or over aspirated?
th Her thoughtless thirst for revenge threatened her children’s lives
Speakers where English is a second language may not articulate ‘th’ fully or substitute with a t/d/s/z
-ing Sailing and searching for the fleece was exciting but exhausting
-ing word endings may be reduced to –in or add a strong g sound
l Love and lust are the lynchpins of legendary tales
Try and identify whether the l is dark or light
r Rarely do mothers wreak such bloody revenge upon their former lovers
There are many different pronunciations of r- refer back to the ‘clues for listening’ if you are unsure which version is being used
t This bitter battle was not fitting or fought fairly
Is the t palatal (as in RP) dentalised (as in General American) or glottalled (e.g. London)
It is not what you think! It’s not the first time…..you waste yourself. I’ve seen it often, the way you will let your tongue run away with you when a low profile, meek words, acceptance of the status quo would have been the way to keep your home. Your words don’t worry me Medea: sticks and stones? They’re straw and chaff the worst of your curses. Call me every vile thing that creeps, I don’t care, but Kreon is the King. You rant at him, are you crazy? Count yourself lucky exile’s all the punishment so far proposed. You make it hard for me. I’ve always done my best to calm him down, persuade him you should stay. I could have crept back to you in secret, would have, but you can’t keep it zipped. You will talk treason, court your own banishment.
I made you Jason. Betrayed my own father my royal line, ran mad for you, after you to Iolcus, Pelias’ palace: more passion than sense. I killed King Pelias to keep you secure, killed him by tricking his loving daughters to unwitting patricide, horror and another royal household destroyed.
Where am I to go? To my father’s house perhaps? Oh yes! The father I betrayed to go with you. To Pelias’ daughters? They’d welcome me with open arms, that glad we did the old man in! This is the state I’m in…..my friends and family are history.
They hate me now. I made enemies of everyone I ever loved for you, hurt those I had no need to hurt for you and in return you made me the happiest woman in Greece, envied by all… what a husband… lucky woman, you could one hundred percent trust him – to betray you! And here’s his wedding present to himself: rootless penury for his discarded beggar wife and brats.
*The RCS wishes to express its thanks to Liz Lochhead for giving us permission to use these extracts from her play ‘Medea’.