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  • You've seen the letter X, but did you know there's no X sound in American English?

  • Confusing, right?

  • In this video, you're going to learn the different sounds we use to pronounce the letter X.

  • So you'll feel totally comfortable pronouncing words with this letter.

  • Every once in a while, I get a question from someone about the X sound.

  • And I have to say, there is no X sound in American English.

  • We have the letter X but let's take a look at what sounds that letter actually represents.

  • There are four different ways this letter can be pronounced.

  • First, we'll go over those pronunciations, then we'll go over the most common words with the letter X

  • and which pronunciation those words have.

  • First, let's go over the two most common pronunciations.

  • In each of these words, the letter X makes two different sounds.

  • The word extra.

  • Before I tell you what sounds are there, I want you to listen and see if you can guess.

  • Extra.

  • Extra.

  • Now, I'm going to slow it down and exaggerate.

  • Extra.

  • Extra.

  • Extra.

  • Kkk. Ssss.

  • K and S.

  • That's the unvoiced version of this pronunciation.

  • Extra.

  • Now we don't pronounce them with the separation.

  • K is a stop consonant, ek- ek-.

  • Did you hear how my voice abruptly stopped?

  • Ek-- It wasn't ehh--

  • That's because of the K. You lift the back of the tongue to the soft palate.

  • Ekk-- And that cuts off of the air, it cuts off the sound.

  • Now, rather than pulling down the tongue by itself, ekk-- kk-- kk--

  • Rather than making that full K sound, you instead go right into the S.

  • Ekk-- sss--- ksss---

  • So when you pull your tongue down in the back, the front of your tongue, the front of your mouth

  • is already in position for the S sound.

  • Ekkkksss---

  • So when you release the air, release the tongue, everything's ready to go

  • for the S and the S sound is made.

  • For the S, the teeth are together and the tip of the tongue is either pressing the back of the bottom front teeth,

  • or it can point up a little bit.

  • Sssss.

  • Sssss.

  • Practice just the KS sounds with me.

  • Front of the mouth is in position for the S, and bring the back of the tongue up to the soft palate.

  • Let air build up and release it by bringing the back of the tongue down.

  • Kksss.

  • Kksss.

  • Kksss.

  • Kksss. Kksss. Kksss.

  • Let's put it into the word 'extra' slowly.

  • Extra.

  • Extra.

  • kss-- kss-- kss--

  • That's the unvoiced pronunciation.

  • But there's also a voiced pronunciation like in the word 'exam'.

  • The letter X still represents two sounds here.

  • What sounds are you hearing now?

  • Exam.

  • I'll pronounce it slowly.

  • Eeggggg-- zzz-- eggzzaam.

  • G and Z.

  • Those are the voice versions of K and S so everything about the position is the same,

  • but rather than releasing air, ksss, ksss, you release a voiced sound, gzz, gzzz, gzzz.

  • Exam.

  • Exam.

  • You know what I find interesting about these two pronunciations

  • is that there's a syllable break between the two sounds that this one letter X makes.

  • Exam.

  • Exam.

  • So the Z sound starts the stressed syllable.

  • Exam.

  • The word 'except'.

  • The S sound starts the stressed syllable.

  • Except.

  • Okay, so those are the two most common pronunciations.

  • What are the other two pronunciations of the letter X?

  • It can be a Z sound.

  • This happens in two cases.

  • First, when it starts a word.

  • Two examples: Xanthan.

  • You may know this word because it's a common ingredient in processed foods.

  • Xanthan.

  • Z sound.

  • Xenophile.

  • Someone who loves foreign cultures, people, or customs.

  • Z sound. zz-- zz--

  • Xenophile.

  • This is X at the beginning of a word.

  • At the end of a word, it can also be a Z sound.

  • These are words that we've borrowed from French.

  • The combination EAUX and we may keep the French spelling with the X at the end

  • but we use the American pronunciation.

  • They're plurals so we add a Z sound.

  • For example, the word 'beau'.

  • A sweetheart, a male sweetheart.

  • Maybe you have lots of Beau's.

  • For the spelling of the plural, we may write an S or we may write an X.

  • Both are acceptable in American English.

  • But both are pronounced with the American English rules which is a Z sound at the end.

  • It can be a little confusing.

  • It can also be silent at the end of a few words.

  • I'm thinking of the word 'faux' which is another way of saying fake.

  • My coat is faux fur not real fur.

  • Also in the word 'Bordeaux' where we kind of use the French pronunciation.

  • Also in 'roux' again, a word borrowed from French, a mixture of fat and flour to thicken sauces.

  • Faux.

  • Bordeaux.

  • Roux.

  • The letter X is silent.

  • But the most common pronunciations of the letter X are KS or GZ.

  • I've gathered some words for each category and I found something interesting.

  • Something interesting happens with the word 'sex' which, let's face, it is an interesting word anyway.

  • So we'll go over that when we get to it.

  • But first, I need your help.

  • Almost every example I came up with where the sound is voiced, GZ looks the same.

  • EX and then the rest of the word.

  • I can't tell if I can't think of any more because I'm so focused on that or if there just aren't many more.

  • So please put any words you can think of where the letter X makes the GZ sounds in the comments below.

  • Here's my list.

  • Repeat out loud and remember, in each word, X is GZ.

  • Gzzz. Gzz.

  • Alexander

  • Exact

  • Exactly

  • Exalt

  • Exam

  • Examine

  • Example

  • Executive

  • Exert

  • Exhibit

  • Exile

  • Exist

  • Existence

  • Exit

  • Exude

  • Now for words where the letter X makes the unvoiced sounds, KS, kssss.

  • We'll talk about sex when we get to it in this list.

  • Affix

  • Apex

  • Axe

  • Axel

  • Axis

  • Box, Boxes, Boxer.

  • Boxy

  • Coax

  • Complex

  • Crux

  • Dexterity

  • Equinox

  • Excel

  • Except

  • Ex's

  • Expect

  • Expel

  • Experience

  • Expo

  • Expression

  • Extent

  • Fax

  • Fix

  • Fixed

  • Fixer

  • Flax

  • Flex

  • Flexible

  • Fox

  • Foxes

  • Foxy

  • Hexagon

  • Hoax

  • Ibex

  • Index

  • Jinx

  • Latex

  • Lux

  • Linx

  • Max

  • Maxi

  • Maximum

  • Mexico

  • Mix

  • Mixer

  • Mixed

  • Next

  • Nix

  • Nixed

  • Onyx

  • Ox

  • Oxen

  • Oxide

  • Pixel

  • Pixie

  • Pox

  • Proxy

  • Sax

  • Saxophone

  • Sex

  • Okay, let's listen.

  • Sex

  • Sexy

  • Sexist

  • Sexual

  • Sexual

  • Sexuality

  • So with the word 'sex'.

  • Something changes when it's followed by U, like in: sexual, sexuality, bisexual, sexualized.

  • Now, instead of KS, the sounds we get are KSH.

  • Ksshh.

  • Kkk-sshh.

  • Sexual.

  • So sex, sexy, we still have KS.

  • But as soon as it's followed by U, sexual, sexual.

  • It changes.

  • We now have KSH.

  • Sexual.

  • And actually, I thought of one other word.

  • The word 'luxury' this is also different.

  • It's just like 'sexual' only it's voiced, so it's G and then ddjjzz.

  • Lugg-- there's the G, lugggjjzz, gggjjzz, gggjjzz, gggjjzz and there's the gggjjzz sound.

  • Luxury.

  • Luxury.

  • I couldn't come up with any other words with this pronunciation.

  • If you can think of any words where the letter X makes the ggjjzz sounds,

  • definitely put those words in the comments below.

  • You've learned a lot about the letter X today and also about English.

  • You've learned that in English, any one letter can be pronounced various different ways.

  • And you can't necessarily tell by looking at it.

  • This is why phonetics are so important.

  • Understanding the symbols we use for sounds rather than trying to think in terms of letters.

  • How familiar are you with the International Phonetic Alphabet?

  • I've made a series of videos that goes over the symbols you need to know for American English,

  • and this can be really helpful when looking up a word and trying to figure out the pronunciation.

  • Click here now or in the description below to start learning these important symbols.

  • What other words can you think of with an X and what pronunciation does the letter X have in those words?

  • Put them in the comments below so everyone can learn even more words with the letter X.

  • That's it and thanks so much for using Rachel's English.

You've seen the letter X, but did you know there's no X sound in American English?

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B1 letter sound exam pronunciation sexual extra

ENGLISH SPEAKING LESSON – The "X" Sounds – Advanced English Speaking | Rachel’s English

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    Summer posted on 2020/10/12
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