Rio, Real, Reel

Xyon and I were talking about mp3 players and I brought up that “Rio” used to make mp3 players and he said he didn’t think “Real” made mp3 players. It later occurred to us that we were talking about different Rios/Reals. When I spelled out Rio (R-I-O), Xyon goes, “Oh, RIO! Nope, never heard of them.”

So I tried enunciating rio and real, but it kept sounding the same to me and Xyon agreed I was repeating the same word over and over again. He tried enunciating the difference to me, but I keep hearing the same word.

Xyon then tries to describe to me the difference. Rio ends in a long o (oh) sound. Real ends with an ul sound, which I couldn’t really hear a difference.

When I got home, I talked it over with RayAlome and still got nowhere. I also realized there was a 3rd word I wouldn’t be able to distinguish without context: reel.

I looked up the pronunciation keys:

  • rio: ree-oh
  • real: reeuhl, reel
  • reel: reel

Apparently there’s 2 pronunciations for real, one which matches exactly to reel. The only conclusion I could come up with is the rio ends with a higher O sound and real ends in a lower O sound.

One thought on “Rio, Real, Reel

  1. When you’re saying “reel,” you end with your tongue against your upper front teeth. When you say “rio” your tongue’s final position should be (relaxed) against your lower front gums.

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