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  • In this American English pronunciation video, we're going to go over why some words sound

  • different when they're said on their own than they do when they're said as part of a sentence,

  • like 'for', 'fer'.

  • A lot of people think, when they're studying a language and they're new to it, that they

  • need to pronounce each word fully and clearly in order to be well-understood. But in English

  • that's actually not the case. English is a stress-timed language. That means some syllables

  • will be longer, and some will be shorter. Many languages, however, are syllable-timed,

  • which means each syllable has the same length. Examples of syllable-timed languages: French,

  • Spanish, Cantonese. So, when an American hears a sentence of English, with each syllable

  • having the same length, it takes just a little bit longer to get the meaning. This is because

  • we are used to stressed syllables, syllables that will pop out of the line because they're

  • longer and they have more shape. Our ears, our brains, go straight to those words. Those

  • are the content words. When all syllables are the same length, then there's no way for the ear to know which words are the most important.

  • So this is why stress is so important in American English. It's a stress-timed language. When

  • you give us nice shape in your stressed syllables, you're giving us the meaning of the sentence.

  • This means that other syllables need to be unstressed --- flatter, quicker --- so that

  • the stressed syllables are what the ear goes to. This is why it's so important to reduce

  • function words that can reduce in American English. When those function words are part

  • of a whole, part of a sentence, they are pronounced differently. Let's look at some examples.

  • ----. Do you know what I'm saying? A native speaker might not either. But, in the context

  • of a sentence, "I'm going to the store," a native speaker would know exactly what I was saying.

  • I'm going to the store. I'm going to the store.

  • When "to the" is pronounced "de the," "de the" reduced and linked, "going" and "store" become the obvious words in the sentence.

  • I'm going to the store. I'm going to the store.

  • What about "ke si," "ke si"? Can you understand what I'm saying? A native speaker might not either.

  • But in the sentence fragment "because of my job," "because of my job," a native speaker will know exactly what I was saying.

  • Because of my job. Because of my job

  • 'Because' and 'of' are so unstressed, so reduced and low in pitch, that the word 'job' is able to really

  • jump out of the sentence. Because of my job.

  • This is really of primary importance in American English pronunciation. As you're working on

  • pronunciation, keep in mind this idea of a word being part of a whole.

  • The word 'for': part of a word becomes fer, fer, fer you, fer me, fer dinner. Practice

  • it this way. Drill it over and over. Other words that can reduce: 'and' can become 'n'.

  • 'Them' can become 'thum' or 'em'. 'At' can become 'ut'. 'To' can become 'tuh' or 'duh'.

  • 'Can' can become 'kun', 'kun'. 'Are' can become 'er', 'er'. 'Was' can become 'wuz', 'wuz'.

  • 'That' can become 'thut', 'thut'. 'Your' can become 'yer', 'yer'. 'At the' can become 'ut

  • the', 'ut the'. And so on. So keep an eye out for this as you're studying pronunciation

  • and listening to native speakers.

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

  • I'm excited to announce that I'm running another online course, so do check out my website

  • for details. You'll find on there all sorts of information about the course, who should

  • take the course, and requirements. I really hope you'll check it out and consider signing

  • up. I've had a blast with my first online course, and I'm looking forward to getting

  • to know you.

  • Don't stop there. Have fun with my real-life English videos. Or get more comfortable with

  • the IPA in this play list. Learn about the online courses I offer, or check out my latest

  • video.

In this American English pronunciation video, we're going to go over why some words sound

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English: A Stress-Timed Language - American Pronunciation

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    Shelby Lai posted on 2015/08/18
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