According to a vowel question in Linguistic SE, English can be considered to have vowels [i ɪ e ɛ æ ɑ ɔ o ʊ u ʌ] which can be reduced to [i e æ ɑ o u ʌ] (plus an orthogonal length or diphthongization).

I use https://tophonetics.com/ for IPA phonetic transcription, which gives for "still steel" RP transcription /stɪl stiːl/, American /stɪl stil/, where I hear /i/ in American /stil/ as longer version of /ɪ/, as used in RP.

So is there a important difference? Are there minimal pairs? Does the difference depend on a dialect, distinct in some and non-distinct in other dialects?

In How to measure auditory distances between vowels, one chart does not mention /ɪ/ separately at all, the other one places it close to /i/.

I have few more related questions about /e ɛ/ ; /ʊ u/ and /ɑ ɔ/, which I plan to ask here, on ELL, or linguistics, depending how you will find my question be appropriate here :-)

I learned my English using [i e æ ɑ o u ʌ] vowel system, I am curious how wrong I am compared to full [i ɪ e ɛ æ ɑ ɔ o ʊ u ʌ].

Edit: I am aware about short vs long vowels (lax vs tense in proper linguistics lingo, IIUC). So my question is, if there is an important (distinguishable) difference between (short) /i/ and /ɪ/, and/or between (long) /i:/ and /ɪ:/ - if such sound as /ɪ:/ exists in English.

Also, I wanted to add "minimal-pair" tag, but none exists, not sure if it will be appropriate.

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because This question belongs on Linguistic SE – user29952 Oct 17 '19 at 21:31
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    If it belongs to Linguistics, can you please transfer it there? But I asked not as a linguist (I am NOT a linguist), but as a learner of English :-) – Peter M. - stands for Monica Oct 17 '19 at 21:35
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    It won't hurt people here to learn that there are several systems for transcribing English vowels. Some use colons for the tense high and mid vowels (/i/ = /i:/, /ɪ/ = /i/, etc.). The fact is that English distinguishes tense and lax vowels in the front and back high and mid positions, and the distinctions have heavy functional loads, especially with the front vowels. So, yes, the distinction is an important one, and it causes plenty of problems for English learners. Both lax and tense vowels can occur in closed syllables, but normally only tense vowels can occur finally. – John Lawler Oct 17 '19 at 22:19
  • Minimal pairs, sheep/ship, beat/bit, seat/sit, read/rid, meat/mitt, scene/sin, and many more. For /e/ ~ /ɛ/, mate/met, bait/bet, mane/men, lace/less, male/Mel, and rake/wreck. – John Lawler Oct 17 '19 at 22:24
  • @JohnLawler - I thought that there is single IPA standard, was I mistaken? :-) So it seems that in RP: ʃiːp/ʃɪp, biːt/bɪt, in AE: ʃip/ʃɪp, bit/bɪt. For me, difference is in the length: /i:/ lasts longer than /ɪ/. So there is no /i/ in RP, only /i:/? That would solve it – Peter M. - stands for Monica Oct 18 '19 at 3:54

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