A2 Basic US 102240 Folder Collection
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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
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English: A Stress-Timed Language - American Pronunciation

102240 Folder Collection
Shelby Lai published on August 18, 2015    Joyce Wang translated    James reviewed
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