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  • You guys love Ben Franklin videos.

  • They're one of the best ways for you to improve listening comprehension and learn tricks to sound more natural

  • when speaking English, like using specific reductions.

  • This January, you're getting five all new Ben Franklin videos

  • where we do a full analysis of real American English conversations.

  • Today's topic, dinner at a friend's house.

  • Let's get started with this analysis. First, the whole conversation.

  • The sauce is on the table. So we've got eggs and the rice.

  • And usually the som tum would, would have sticky rice with it,

  • but I couldn't quite imagine eating this, with, without this kind of rice.

  • So I, we just went with it. Fluffy jasmine.

  • Ollie, what do you think of the food?

  • It's definitely on point.

  • Now, the analysis.

  • The sauce is on the table. So we've got eggs and the rice.

  • The sauce is on the table.

  • What do you think are the two most stressed words there?

  • I hear 'sauce' and 'table'.

  • The stressed syllable of 'table'.

  • The sauce is on the table. The sauce is on the table. The sauce is on the table.

  • The other word just said very quickly. The word 'the' pronounced with the schwa:

  • thethethethethe

  • Said really quickly, low in pitch, less clear. It's not 'the' but: thethethe

  • This is how we pronounce function words in conversation.

  • The less important words.

  • This provides contrast with the stress words

  • which we want to be clear and longer and have an up-down shape of stress intonation in the voice.

  • The saucethe sauceis on theis on the

  • The sauce is on the table. The sauce is on the table. The sauce is on the table.

  • These three words linked together very quickly.

  • The ending Z sound links into the vowel: isis on the

  • the N consonant goes right into the TH sound with no break,

  • and again the word 'the' pronounced with the schwa very quickly.

  • Is on theis on theis on the

  • So it's not: is on theall of those are stressed and that's not right,

  • but it's: is on theis on theis on theis on the

  • A little mumbled, a little bit less clear, because they are function words.

  • 'Sauce' and 'table', the two content words, are longer.

  • And all of the words and all of the sounds flow together smoothly with no jumps and pitch and no choppiness.

  • The sauce is on the table.

  • The sauce is on the table. The sauce is on the table. The sauce is on the table.

  • So we've got eggs and the rice.

  • So we've got eggs and the rice.

  • Okay, what is the most stressed there?

  • 'Eggs' and 'rice'.

  • Both longer than the rest of the words.

  • So we've got theSo we've got the

  • So we've got theSo we've got theSo we've got the

  • So we've got theSo we've got theSo we've got the

  • The vowel here is almost dropped, it's almost like we're just linking the S sound in.

  • So we've got theso we've got theso we've got the

  • That helps to say this word more quickly in this string of words that are said so quickly.

  • So you've got the very quick V sound before the G

  • then we have a stop T.

  • So we don't say: got thegot the

  • with a true T, but we say: got thegot thegot the

  • where we stop the air really quickly in the throat.

  • This symbolizes the stop T.

  • The word 'the' here she pronounces it with the schwa.

  • The rule is that if the next word begins with a vowel sound, like this word,

  • that the E in 'the' is pronounced as the EE as in She sound. Thethethe

  • But I've noticed that this is not a rule that Americans necessarily follow all the time.

  • Thethethe eggsthe eggs

  • She says it with the schwa. It still sounds normal.

  • Nobody would hear that and think she mispronounced 'the'.

  • EggsEggsEggs and the rice

  • And the riceand the rice

  • 'And' and 'the' between the two content words, we have two more function words which will be said more quickly.

  • The word 'and' is reduced: and theand theand the

  • We drop the vowel, put it into the schwa vowel instead.

  • We drop the D altogether.

  • So schwa N. You don't need to try to make a schwa sound.

  • It just gets absorbed by the N. Just make the N.

  • Eggs and theeggs andeggs andeggs and the riceand the rice

  • And theand theand theand theand the

  • eggs and the riceeggs and the riceeggs and the rice

  • Making this reduction helps us say this word really quickly and we want to do that because it's not

  • an important word, it's a function word. Those are less important.

  • The more important words are the content words

  • and we want the stressed syllable of the content words to be longer.

  • For example: riceand the rice

  • and theand theand the

  • Those two words said much more faster than 'rice'

  • where we take a little bit more time and we have the up-down shape of stress.

  • And the rice

  • And the riceAnd the riceAnd the rice

  • And usually the som tum would, would have sticky rice with it.

  • And usuallySo here, she doesn't reduce the vowel. She keeps the full vowel but she does drop the D.

  • We almost never say the D unless we're thinking or holding out the word 'and' for some reason.

  • Usuallyus

  • The stressed syllable there.

  • Usually the som tum would

  • is the most stressed syllable of the sentence.

  • And usually

  • usuallyusuallyusually

  • UsuallySo this word can be pronounced as four syllables: usually

  • or more commonly, three syllables and that's what she does:

  • usuallyusuallyusuallyusually

  • Usually-- yoo--

  • So the JU as in Few diphthong stressed, usual

  • The djz sound, schwa L, it's just a dark L sound. Usually

  • And the ending IH vowel: usuallyusually

  • It's easier to pronounce this word as three syllables than four

  • so I suggest that you practice it this way and use this pronunciation: usually

  • usuallyusuallyusually the som tum would have sticky rice with it.

  • The som tum— 'The' said quickly with the schwa,

  • then we have a couple words that are a little bit more stressed.

  • Of course this is not English, this is Thai, she's making a Thai dessert, I'm sorry a Thai salad here.

  • The word 'would', L is always silent.

  • Usually the som tum would have sticky rice with it

  • would have sticky rice with it

  • would have sticky rice with it

  • So 'stick' the most stressed syllable there. Again, there's no L sound in the word 'would'.

  • Would havewould havewould have sticky rice with it

  • Would havewould havewould have sticky rice with it

  • A Stop T at the end of 'it'

  • so we stop the air in our throat: it- it- it- it-

  • and this abrupt end signifies the T.

  • Everything in this phrase is smoothly linked together.

  • The D goes right into the H sound.

  • She could have dropped to the H but she didn't. Would havewould have

  • The V sounds smoothly right into the ST cluster,

  • the EE vowel right into the R, the S sound right next to the W.

  • Rice withrice with

  • And the ending TH links right into the beginning vowel IH: with itwith itwith it

  • would have a sticky rice with it

  • would have a sticky rice with itwould have a sticky rice with itwould have a sticky rice with it

  • But I couldn't quite imagine eating this

  • But I couldn't quite imagine eating this

  • 'This' the most stressed as she is pointing to something.

  • But I couldn't quite imagine eating this

  • So she puts a little break here between 'but' and 'I'.

  • If she didn't, she would have flapped the T: but I couldn't— but I— but I couldn't—

  • Since she doesn't, she puts a break separating these into two thought groups. We have a stop T: but I couldn't—

  • but I couldn't—

  • but I couldn't— but I couldn't— but I couldn't quite imagine eating this

  • couldn't quitecouldn't quite

  • You can link the ending N right into the K sound while dropping the T. Couldn't quitecouldn't quite

  • Or you can make a little stop in your throat: couldn't quitecouldn't quiteto signify the T there.

  • Either one is okay, and just like with 'would', the L in 'could' is silent.

  • Both of these have the UH as in Push vowel. Wouldcouldcouldn't--

  • but I couldn't quite imagine eating this

  • but I couldn't quite imagine eating this

  • Quite imaginequite imagineHere we have an ending T sound

  • linking into beginning vowel sound

  • and because the sound before the T was also a vowel or diphthong, it becomes a flap

  • which sounds like the D in American English.

  • It might sound like the R in your language, depending on the language.

  • Quite imaginequiteThe tongue just flaps once against the roof of the mouth:

  • Quite imagine

  • Quite imaginequite imaginequite imagine eating this

  • quiet imagine eating

  • Another flap T here, because it comes between two vowel sounds. Eatingeating this--

  • Quite imagine eating thisQuite imagine eating thisQuite imagine eating this

  • with, without this kind of rice.

  • with, without--

  • So she repeats herself, with,

  • she starts the word without, she pauses while she's thinking, then she says the full word: withoutwithout

  • Stop T at the end because the next word begins with a consonant.

  • This kind of rice

  • 'This' again, a little bit stressed because we're comparing. This

  • This kind of rice with that kind of rice.

  • Because it's the word that we're using to compare: this, that, those, these.

  • It's a little stressed.

  • This kind of rice.

  • This kind of rice. This kind of rice. This kind of rice.

  • kind of rice. kind of rice.

  • The