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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: interview with my friend Chris.

  • Let's get started with this analysis.

  • First, the whole conversation.

  • - Yeah we have two dogs. - Yeah.

  • Yeah. Big ones.

  • Big dogs. Okay, Daisy and let me see if I can remember.

  • Oh, I can't.

  • - Banjo. - Banjo! That's right.

  • And they made the move with you guys from Texas.

  • Mmm hmm. They did.

  • How long have you guys had them?

  • Daisy, about five years.

  • Banjo, four.

  • Now, the analysis.

  • - Yeah we have two dogs. - Yeah.

  • Yeah.

  • Yeah we have two dogs.

  • Yeah we have two dogs.

  • What are the most stressed words you hear there?

  • I hear 'two' and 'dogs' as being the two content words here, the most stressed words, longer.

  • Yeah also. Yeah.

  • 'We have', these are both said really quickly.

  • And we have two- and we have two- we have two-

  • And actually the word 'have' reduces.

  • He drops the H sound.

  • It's common to do this in function words that begin with an H like: have, had, his, her, him.

  • We have- we have- So the EE vowel goes right into the AH vowel, smoothly connected:

  • we have- we have- we have- we have-

  • This allows him to say these two words more quickly and we want to do that

  • because we want contrast with the longer words.

  • So we want our less important function words to be said really really as quickly as possible.

  • We have- we have- we have two dogs-

  • we have two- we have two-

  • - We have two dogs. - Yeah.

  • Yeah. Yeah.

  • I respond. I'm pretty sure I knew that.

  • It's like just a way of saying I'm listening to what you're saying.

  • - We have two dogs. - Yeah.

  • Yeah.

  • Yeah. You'll hear this word in conversation a lot.

  • Yeah. Yeah.

  • It's a stressed word.

  • It will generally have an up-down shape of stress and be a little bit longer. Yeah.

  • Yeah.

  • Rather than: yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

  • Which is how it would be pronounced if it was unstressed. Yeah.

  • Big ones.

  • - We have two dogs. - Yeah.

  • Yeah.

  • - We have two dogs. - Yeah.

  • Yeah.

  • - We have two dogs. - Yeah.

  • Yeah. Big ones.

  • Big ones.

  • Big ones.

  • So these are both stressed words. Big ones.

  • They're both longer than a function word like we have up here. Big ones.

  • 'Big' is more stressed than 'ones'.

  • The pitch is a little bit higher.

  • Big ones.

  • The pitch for 'ones' falls away from the stressed 'big', from the peak of 'big'.

  • Big ones.

  • Big ones.

  • Big ones.

  • Big ones.

  • Big ones.

  • Big dogs.

  • Big dogs.

  • So again, two stressed words and I'm sort of stretching them out even more.

  • Big dogs.

  • I'm doing this for emphasis.

  • Big dogs.

  • Big dogs.

  • - Big dogs. Okay. - Mmm hmm.

  • He says mm-hmm.

  • And you can see his mouth doesn't open at all.

  • This is an affirmation, a way of saying yes or yeah.

  • We say it a lot in conversation.

  • Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm.

  • - Okay. - Mmm hmm.

  • - Okay. - Mmm hmm.

  • Okay Daisy and--

  • Okay Daisy and--

  • So in this thought group, 'dai' is definitely the most stressed.

  • It's a proper noun and it's the name of the dog so the stressed syllable of this word

  • will be very clear: Daisy.

  • Okay, Daisy-

  • Okay, Daisy-

  • Okay, Daisy-

  • Okay, Daisy and-

  • And- So this is unusual, this is a function word.

  • We usually reduce it which means we drop or change some of the sounds.

  • I say the whole word clearly. The AH as in bat vowel transitioning into the N consonant

  • and the D sound.

  • We almost always drop the D but I'm thinking here, I can't remember the name of his other dog.

  • And....

  • So by drawing out the word like that, I'm taking more time showing that I'm uncertain

  • trying to remember that dog's name.

  • And-- and-- and let me see if I can remember.

  • Let me see if I can remember.

  • Let me see if I can remember.

  • See and the stressed syllable of remember are the most stressed words there.

  • The rest are said very quickly.

  • And we do have some reductions: 'let me' becomes lemme.

  • We drop the T completely.

  • You might have seen people write it this way before: lemme.

  • I don't recommend writing reductions but we use them in spoken English all the time.

  • Let me see- Let me see-

  • let me see if-- let me see if-- let me see if I can remember--

  • If I can-- If I can-- If I can remember.

  • So 'if I can' and actually even the first syllable of 'remember' because it's unstressed.

  • If I can re-- are all said really quickly, lower in pitch, a little flatter in pitch:

  • If I can re-- all of them linked together smoothly.

  • If i can re-- If i can re--

  • Notice the word 'can'. I'm not pronouncing it fully pronounced which would have the AH vowel

  • but I'm reducing it: can- can- can- K schwa N. Can- can- can-

  • This is because 'can' is a helping verb here.

  • That means it's not the main verb.

  • 'Remember' is the main verb.

  • 'Remem--' and it does have stress

  • but 'can' when it's not the main word,

  • which is most of the time, when it's not the main verb, is reduced.

  • So instead of 'can' it becomes: can, can, can, said very quickly.

  • Practice that with me now.

  • Can- can- if I can- if I can- if I can- if I can- if I can remember.

  • if I can- if I can- if I can remember.

  • So there's a big difference between the unstressed words: if I can- and the stressed word 'remember'

  • which has that clear up-down shape, full pronunciation, long stressed syllable.

  • If I can remember.

  • If I can remember. If I can remember. If I can remember.

  • Oh...I can't.

  • I say: Oh, I can't.

  • I can't.

  • I can't.

  • A stop here at the end where we stop the air: can't-- nt-- nt-- nt--

  • An abrupt stop. The air stops in my nose because N is a nasal constant.

  • I can't-- I can't--

  • I can't--

  • I can't--

  • - I can't-- - Ba- Banjo.

  • And I say this at the same time that he is taking me out of my misery

  • and giving me the right answer: Ban- Banjo.

  • Banjo.

  • Again, it's a proper noun so it's going to be stressed.

  • The first syllable is the stressed syllable: Ban-- jo.

  • Banjo.

  • Banjo.

  • Banjo.

  • Banjo.

  • Banjo. That's right.

  • Banjo. That's right.

  • So I'm being dramatic here spending more time on the name.

  • Of course, I remember as soon as he said it.

  • I've seen Banjo on Instagram many times.

  • Banjo.

  • Banjo.

  • Banjo.

  • Banjo. That's right.

  • That's right. That's right. That's right.

  • These two words a little bit mumbled.

  • Not as clear I definitely drop the TH in 'that's'.

  • at's right. at's right. at's right.

  • That's pretty common.

  • In fact, I could have even dropped the vowel and just put the TS sound in front of the R consonant.

  • T's right. T's right.

  • We do that quite a bit with that, it's, let's, and what's.

  • Reducing those words to just the TS sound.

  • But here I don't do that. I keep the AH vowel but I do drop the beginning consonant. That's right.

  • That's right.

  • This is pretty normal.

  • You'll hear this quite a bit in normal conversation, casual conversation.

  • That's right. That's right.

  • That's right. And they made the move with you guys.

  • And they made the move with you guys.

  • So notice I definitely dropped the D here and that is a more normal pronunciation of the word 'and'.

  • And they made the move.

  • I keep the full AH vowel.

  • Could have reduced it to the schwa:

  • And they made the move--

  • And they made the move--

  • And they made the move--

  • And they made the move with you guys from Texas.

  • And they made the move with your guys--

  • A little stressed there.

  • From Texas-- So the stressed words more clear, more time, up-down shape of stress.

  • The unstressed words flatter in pitch, said more quickly, less important.

  • And they made the move with you guys from Texas.

  • The word 'from' reduced.

  • It's not: from but: from- from- from Texas-

  • So the vowel changes to the schwa.

  • So we can see that word really quickly: from- from Texas-

  • - From Texas. - Mmm hmm they...

  • - From Texas. - Mmm hmm they...

  • - From Texas. - Mmm hmm they did.

  • Mmm hmm. Again, an affirmation.

  • Like saying: Yes, they did.

  • They did.

  • 'Did' more stressef than 'they'.

  • They did.

  • - From Texas. - Mmm hmm. They did.

  • - From Texas. - Mmm hmm. They did.

  • - From Texas. - Mmm hmm. They did.

  • - From Texas. - Mmm hmm. They did.

  • How long have you guys had them?

  • How long have you guys had them?

  • That is definitely the longest word in the sentence, the most stressed.

  • The other words a little less clear.

  • In fact, I reduced the word 'have' by dropping the H consonant.

  • How long have you guys-

  • Have-- have-- have--

  • I also changed the vowel from AH to the schwa.

  • So it's just schwa V. Long have- long have- long have-

  • And whenever we do reductions, we want to make sure that we link them in.

  • So this is just linked right on to the next word, to the word before, and the next word:

  • how long have- long have- Practice that with me now.

  • Long have- long have- long have you- long have you- How long have you guys had them?

  • How long have you-- How long have you-- How long have you guys had them?

  • 'Had' also has a little bit of stress.

  • Had them- had them- 'Them' is another word that often reduces by dropping the TH.

  • I did not do that here.

  • How long have you guys had them?

  • Even though I didn't do it, it's still not stressed. It's lower in pitch.

  • The intonation doesn't have the up-down shape of stress, that curve in the voice.

  • How long have you guys had them?

  • Them? Them? Them?

  • Had them? Had them? Had them?

  • Daisy, about five years. Banjo, four.

  • Daisy, about five years.

  • Dai-, five, and Banjo, about four.

  • So again, our two proper nouns Daisy and Banjo stressed.

  • Here, we're talking about, we've already established that that's who were talking about.

  • And now we're asking about something different.

  • We're asking about how long Chris has had these dogs.

  • So I think the word 'five' is even more stressed than Daisy.

  • Daisy, about five years.

  • Because this is the new information.

  • This is the information I'm asking about.

  • Daisy, about five years.

  • Daisy, about five years.

  • Daisy, about five years.

  • Five years.

  • Five years.

  • 'About' with a stop T because the next word begins with a consonant.

  • About five years.

  • About five years.

  • About five years.

  • About five years.

  • Five years.

  • The intonation for the word 'years' is a little high and he holds it out a little bit.