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--- On Tue, 11/24/09, Catherine Rodgers <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> In my conlang Lhenazi, I have /e/
> phonemically contrasting with /ei/.
> But my American accent is giving me trouble. I'm tending to
> say them
> as [E] and [e.i], respectively, to make them more
> distinct.
> 
> Am I correct in assuming it's just English as my L1 that's
> making this
> contrast difficult for me to perceive and produce reliably?

Probably; though unless one draws the /ei/ out to almost two syllables, the distinction is hard to hear, IMO.

> Does
> anyone have natlang examples that do this contrast without
> issue,
> preferrably with sound samples I could use for practice?
> ;)

Spanish le 'dative of 3d sg. pronoun' vs. ley 'law'
close, se '3d per. reflexive' vs. seis 'six'
-- not many other pairs I can think of offhand :-(

Italian le 'fem.pl.def. art' vs. lei 'you (formal)'
mie 'mine (fem.pl)' vs. miei 'mine (Masc.pl.)' (but ['mi(j)e] [mj'ei])
se 'if' vs. sei 'six' -- but these probably are technically 2 syllable forms.

It helps that Span. le, se and Ital. le, se are usually in unstressed position.