Phát âm

Posts: 112

Response to Question: ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ Sound

This is in response to a question posted on one of my videos on YouTube. The video was the how-to video for the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ sound:

(To view the transcript of that video, see the page for ‘ay’ as in ‘say’.)
The question asked was:

hi i always appreciate practicality of your great video. Just one question about this video though, i don’t understand what you mean by touching the roof of the mouth. When you pronounce A it doesn’t seem touch the roof….

My response:

First off, thanks for your question! In your question, we are faced with one of the problems of learning English: it is not a phonetic language, so when you write A I am not sure which sound you mean (there are many ways it can be pronounced). That is why I have chosen to respond here, where I can use images from the International Phonetic Alphabet, which are unique.

As you might already know, ‘diphthong’ means this sound unit contains two separate sounds. The first, I explain, is either the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’ (IPA symbol: [ε]) or the closed e (IPA symbol: []). The second sound does not occur on its own in English as a single vowel sound. Most sources use the closed e [] sound, which is what I explain in my video. In this sound, the tongue does touch: it is the back of the tongue, which comes up to touch the very back of the roof of the mouth/very top of the throat.

The second sound is written as the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ [ɪ], though I find in practice is sort of half way between this vowel and the more forward ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ [i]. In both these sounds, the tongue does touch the roof of the mouth.

If you have not already viewed the videos linked to above for the individual sounds, you may find that helpful.

Please let me know if this explanation is not clear! If you have any follow-up questions regarding the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ [eɪ] sound, or any other questions, please feel free to ask.

[eɪ] ‘ay’ as in ‘say’

The ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong. The first sound in this diphthong does not occur on its own as a vowel in American English, e, e, ay. To make this first sound, the tongue will push forward and press behind the bottom front teeth, e, e. The front part will be wide, ay, ay. The second half is the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. So to make this part of the diphthong, the front/mid part of the tongue will raise towards the roof of the mouth, ay, ay. As the tongue raises, the jaw will close somewhat. Ay, say.

Here are the two sounds side by side. You can see that in the first sound of the diphthong, the jaw is dropped slightly more. Here are the two sounds in profile. Again, note that the jaw drops slightly more for the first sound. Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. In the first sound of the diphthong, the tongue pulls more forward. In the second sound it is more forward and up, and the tongue raises closer to the roof of the mouth. In both sounds, the tip of the tongue is touching the front bottom teeth. Sample words: maybe, play, neighbor. Sample sentence: I was afraid if I stayed late that I’d be tired today. Now you’ll see this sentence up close and in slow motion, both straight on and from an angle, so you can really study how the mouth moves when making this sound.

I, with the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong, was, lips make the W shape, afraid, bottom lip up for the F, and now here is the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong. Tongue tip up to make the D. If I stayed, again the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong, and the tongue tip up for the D. Late, again the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong, and the tongue moves into the T position. That I’d be tired, with the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong, today. Again the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong.

And now from an angle. I, with the ‘ay’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong, was afraid. The ‘ay’ as in ‘say’, tongue forward and then up more towards the roof of the mouth. There the tip makes the D. If I stayed, again the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ but it’s very quick here, the jaw doesn’t drop much before the tongue moves up to make the D sound. Now here’s the L, and it pulls down again, la-, into the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong. That I’d be tired today. And again, the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong. The jaw drops, the tongue comes forward, and then the jaw closes as the tongue raises towards the roof of the mouth. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

International Phonetic Alphabet symbol: [eɪ]

How to Pronounce Christmas — and Happy Holidays!

In this video, we’re going to talk about how to pronounce the word ‘Christmas,’ and you’ll see some scenes from my Christmas party and from Christmastime in New York. The word ‘Christmas.’ First, let’s point out that the T is silent. Christmas, Christmas. So it’s the first syllable that’s accented. And the CH here represents the K consonant sound. So the first sound is the KR consonant cluster, Chr-, Chr-. The vowel in the first syllable is the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. Chri-, Chri-. This syllable ends with the S sound. Chris-, Chris-.

The second syllable, unaccented, has the M consonant sound, schwa, S sound. -mes, -mes. It will be lower in pitch than the first syllable, which is stressed. Christmas, Christmas. As I’ve been discussing Christmas and Christmas plans with my students this week, I noticed that several of them have a misconception about the schwa-S sound. A lot of my current students have a native language of Mandarin. And I’ve noticed not just with this word, but with others, that the schwa-S sometimes sounds like it has an R in it. So, Christmas becomes Christmers, er, er, ers. And focus becomes focurs. Famous becomes famours, rs. So to prevent this from happening, make sure the tongue does not pull back. The er sound is made when the tongue pulls back some. So, in this second syllable, -mas, -mas, -mas, the tongue can stay forward the whole time for the schwa and the S sound. Christmas, Christmas.

At our holiday party this year, we had a wonderful meal followed by a gift exchange and cookie decorating. In our gift exchange, we each brought one gift. Then we drew numbers to determine the order in which to open gifts. When it was your turn, you could either steal a gift that had already been opened, or open a new gift yourself.

>> OK, so I draw my number. I want to make sure I get the best one. Now, no one else can see, except for my Rachel’s English users.
>> K, Tim has drawn number one, the lucky duck.

Lucky duck is an idiom you can use for someone who has good fortune. In our gift exchange, whoever drew number one got to go first, but then take his choice of all the open gifts at the end. Lucky duck. Both words have the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ sound followed by the K sound. Uk, uk. Lucky duck. Listen again.

>> K, Tim has drawn number one, the lucky duck.
>> Tim, I feel like you rigged that somehow.
>> I hope that you don’t need a scissors. Just tear the paper.
>> That is some tea that I brought back from Africa in May.
>> Whoa! That’s an awesome gift.
>> Oh wow! I love how excited you are about it!
>> Who’s number 7? I am! I steal!
>> NO!
>> Pinkberry! This is a delicious frozen yogurt–uh–place that’s not so far from the house. Sorry Janae.

>> Janae!
>> Yes?
>> That cookie is so adorable!
>> Thank you.
>> How long did it take you?
>> Approximately 30 seconds.
>> You know that we have 5,000 more to do, right?
>> Yes.
>> K.

Did you notice? I reduced the word ‘okay’ to simply ‘k’, k. Listen again.
>> You know that we have 5,000 more to do, right?
>> Yes.
>> K.
>> Jovon, that’s also some excellent handy work.
>> Tell her about the dots.

Tell her about the dots. Did you notice the dropped H? It’s not uncommon to drop the beginning H in unaccented words like her, him, and his. If you do this, always link it to the word before. Tell her, tell her. Tell her about the dots. Listen again.
>> Tell her about the dots [x3]
>> The dots. This is actually braille for ‘cookie’.
>> Oh, you’re really gifted.

>> Linds, can I show you my cookies?
>> Mm-hmm. Please do. Let me zoom in, it looks good.
>> Thanks. It’s very colorful.
>> Are you going to bite its head off?

Here’s a sampling of some of the cookies we ended up with at the end of the night. I tried to make a Rachel’s English cookie but I ran out of room.

I’m going to close with a hymn that some friends and I sang a few nights ago. It’s the first verse of The First Noel. I’m standing in the middle of the back row.

Then I’ll switch to some footage of Christmas cheer in New York. I think New York does December very well. A lot of restaurants and shops put out really lovely decorations, and it does help to get me in the Christmas spirit. Happy holidays everyone.

The First Noel, the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay. In fields where they lay keeping their sheep on a cold winter’s night that was so deep. Noel, noel noel, noel, born is the King of Israel.

To all my users, no matter what holiday you celebrate if you celebrate at all, I wish you a very joyous December and all the best in the New Year.

The 3 Uh Sounds

There are three uh sounds in American English. What is the difference between these three sounds? Let’s start with the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ [ʌ]. Uh. As you can see, there is some drop in the jaw. Uh. And the tongue is resting on the bottom of the mouth, resting just behind these teeth. Uh, uh. The schwa [ə] is similar: the tongue position is the same, resting on the bottom of the mouth, touching just there. However, there is not the drop in the jaw. Uh. The ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ [ʊ]: this has some drop of the jaw, but the lips do something completely different: the come out a little bit because they purse in here at the corners. Pull. Now, there are how-to videos for each of these three sounds, but I wanted to bring them together so that we could compare. Let’s look at some photos.

All of the photos were taken as I said the word that contained the sound, not just the sound by itself. Here you see the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ and ‘uh’ as in ‘supply’ sounds compared.

On the left, the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’, you can see that the jaw is dropping more. The teeth are further apart, and the chin is further down. Here is butter vs. pull. You can see the corners of the mouth in pull are coming together just a little bit. This brings the top and bottom lip away from the face. The top lip here is covering the front teeth, whereas with the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ sound, you can see just a bit of the top teeth. Here are all three. Again, you can see that the jaw is dropped more on ‘butter’, leaving more space between the top and bottom lips. Here are butter and pull in profile. It is difficult to see, but the corners of the mouth in pull have come in a little bit, and the mouth looks slightly less relaxed. You can see a change in the top lip as it has slightly pulled away from the face. Here are all three in profile.

Now let’s look at a few sample words. First the schwa, or ‘uh’ as in ‘supply’ sound: supply, sofa, condition. Condition has two schwas, in the first and last syllable, condition. Conduct, compose. The ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ sound: pull, good, should, could. The ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’: butter, brother, mother, because. In because, it is the second syllable: because. One last note: the schwa sound only occurs in unaccented syllables. This means that the length will most likely be shorter than the other two sounds when they occur in accented syllables.

[ɔ] ‘aw’ as in ‘law’

The ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ vowel sound.  To make this sound, the jaw drops, but the tongue raises a bit, aw, not just the front or the back, but the whole thing really, aw, reaches slightly up towards the roof of the mouth.  It also shifts back a little bit, aw, which means the tip of the tongue is not touching anything in the mouth, aw.  You’ll notice too that the corners of the lips come in a little bit, aw.  Really it’s almost like the cheeks come in and shift forward a little bit, aw, to make this sound.  Law.

Here is the ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ vowel sound on the right compared with the mouth at rest on the left. Notice that the corners of the mouth are pressed forward somewhat, which brings the center part of the lips away from the face. Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. As with all vowels, the soft palate is raised. But more importantly, look at just the tongue. You can see in the aw sound that the tongue comes up and backwards. This means the tip of the tongue is not touching the teeth. The ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ sound. Sample words: bought, crawl, wrong. Sample sentence: Your daughter is taller than when I saw her last fall. Now you’ll see this sentence up close and in slow motion, both straight on and from an angle, so you can really study how the mouth moves when making this sound.

Your, the lips form the Y consonant sound position. Daughter, with the aw sound. Dd, aw. The tongue comes up to pronounced the T, which here is pronounced as a D. Daughter is tt taller, another aw vowel sound here, aw. The tongue comes up for the L. Than when, the lips form the W, I saw, the teeth come together to make the S, aw, another ‘aw’ as in ‘law’. Her last, tongue comes up to make the L. And finally, fall, with another ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ sound. Aw. And the tongue comes up to the L.

Your, the lips form the Y consonant sound, daughter, with the aw as in law. There’s the position. Tongue moves up to make that D sound, and then back to make the R. Daughter is taller, another aw, aw. Tongue comes up to make the L. Than when, tongue goes up to make the N. I saw, another ‘aw’ as in ‘law’, aw. Her, tongue goes up to make the L, last fall. Another ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ sound, aw, and the tongue goes up to make the L. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

International Phonetic Alphabet symbol: [ɔ]

See Wikipedia’s page on this sound to see its occurrences in other languages.


Learn Pronunciation While Cooking Ramen!

In this American English pronunciation video, I’m going to make a steaming bowl of ramen noodles. Of course, we’ll also study pronunciation, and we’ll see a lot of reduction in action, like ‘gotta’, ‘gonna’, them, and can. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a blast. This video is actually not entirely about American English pronunciation. It’s by request from my mother because when I was with her over Christmas I was telling her how much I love to make ramen noodles. And she thought that was sort of gross. Did you notice? I made a flap T out of the T in ‘sort of’. This is because it comes after an R, before a vowel sound. Sort of. We’ll want to link the D to the next word, which begins with a vowel, sort of, sort of, so it sounds more like one word than two separate units. Sort of. Let’s listen again.

Sort of gross. [3x] –ramen noodles. And she thought that was sort of gross.

I assured her it’s not gross. Not the way I make it! So this video is for her: how I make my ramen noodles. Now I was also on vacation with my aunt. A-U-N-T. I know that aunt is not the number one pronunciation for that word. Most people pronounce it aunt. I use aunt. So let’s look: mom, aunt, ramen. They all have that AH vowel, but each one of those words spells the AH vowel differently. Ok, let’s get cooking.

First, I take the bowl that I’m going to eat my ramen soup in. Fill it up. It’s got to be kind of big. Do you remember in the Thanksgiving video when we reduced I have got to to I’ve gotta, or, I gotta? It’s happening here. It has got to: I’m reducing it to It’s gotta, it’s gotta. Listen again.

It’s got to be kind of big. [3x]

Maybe leave about an inch at the top. I’m going to put it on high. Did you notice? I’m gonna. I’ve reduced I am going to to I’m gonna. Of course, use of ‘gonna’ is very prevalent in everyday spoken American English. I’m gonna. The first syllable has the G consonant, ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ vowel, a nice, clean N, and the second syllable, the schwa. The first syllable is stressed, gon-, and the second syllable unstressed, -a. Gonna, gonna. Listen again.

I’m going to put it on high. [3x]

Oops. Wrong burner. You’d think I would know by now. OK. So. While that’s heating up, let’s talk about the vegetable situation. Come over here camera lady. So I’m going to use mushrooms, I have some frozen green beans, and carrots. Um, I love to use bok choy but I don’t have any. I’m going to garnish with a little cilantro. And you know what? I’m remembering that in my freezer, I have some chopped up onions that I already fried one time when I made an absolutely ridiculous amount of fried onions. So I’m actually going to chip off a little bit of that to throw in as well.

Ok, so, I’m going to chop up my mushrooms. I’m going to try to be careful not to loose any finger parts in the process. I’m not exactly gifted in the kitchen. I have lost finger parts in the past.

Don’t make them too small. Did you notice? I reduced the word ‘them’ to the schwa-M sound: um, um. Because in this pronunciation the word ‘them’ begins with a vowel, and the word before, ‘make’, ends with a K, I’m going to make sure that those two words link and feel like one unit — make ’em, make ’em — rather than two separate words. Listen again.

Don’t make them too small [3x], because we are going to be eating this with chopsticks. It’s got to be a grabbable size. Ok, I’m also going to put in a carrot. Carrots, I like to cut them on the diagonal, because again it makes them bigger. Did you notice? Two more cases where the word ‘them’ was reduced to ’em. I like to cut them on the diagonal, cut them, cut them. We’re taking the final letter of the word ‘cut’, we’re attaching it to the word ’em, ’em, and because the T now comes between two vowels, I turned that T into a flap, or, a light D sound. Cut them, cut them. Also, the phrase it makes them bigger, makes them bigger. Again, ‘them’ reduced to ’em, ’em. Also did you notice, I reduced the word ‘because’ to simply cuz, cuz. The K, schwa, Z sound. Cuz it makes ’em, cuz it makes ’em. And, as usual, when you reduce something, you link it to the words that come around it. Cuz it, cuz it, cuz it makes ’em. The Z sound links to the next word ‘it’. Listen to the phrases again.

I like to cut them on the diagonal, because again it makes them bigger, easier to grab with a chopstick. Ok, so then I’m going to use the frozen green beans from Trader Joe’s. And my frozen onion, which actually, when I made it, I had fried in grease from ground beef. What? She just gave me, camera lady just gave me a face that was like that’s gross. And you know what? It’s not gross. It just — it makes it more tasty. Ok. I’m guessing that the water is boiling. So I’m now ready to head over to the pot. Just a quick note: did you see how much the jaw dropped in the word ‘pot’? And you can see a dark space in the mouth because the tongue is pressed down in the back. Just the way the AH vowel should be.

It’s not boiling. I need to be patient.

So, to make my broth, I’m not just going to use the packet that came with the ramen of course. I will use some of it, but I’m going to supplement— Hey! Another ‘gonna’. I’m gonna supplement. I’m gonna supplement. But I’m going to supplement with fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, some fresh lemon, and probably a little fresh pepper as well. It’s boiling. In goes the ramen. I give it just a few seconds to start to break up. Even though these are frozen, it’s ok to throw them right in. Did you notice how quickly I said the word it’s? I reduced it by dropping the vowel altogether, and attaching the TS sound to the next word. Tsokay, tsokay. This was very fast of me, quite casual. It’s ok to throw them right in. And now all the vegetable that we’ve chopped goes in. Mmm, tasty. Break up the noodles a little bit. Ok, I’m going to put in my sauce ingredients. Little fish sauce, just a few drops. Little soy sauce, just a few drops. Little sugar. That wasn’t enough. There we go. Where did my ramen packet go? There it is. And then maybe half of this. Ok. Lemon juice. Oops, don’t want that seed to fall in. Ok, so there it is. I’m going to mix it up, I’m going to let it go for not very long. Just maybe two minutes before my next step.

We’re going to put an egg in this guy. Ok, so, I take my egg. Get it all nice and good and cracked. Can you see? Can you see? I reduced the word ‘can’ to cn, cn. That’s because, in this sentence, it’s a helping verb. ‘See’ is the main verb. Helping verbs will usually be unstressed. And ‘can’ likes to reduce when it’s unstressed to cn: K sound, schwa, N. Cn, Cn. Can you see? Listen again.

Can you see? [x3] —in there?

Then, just split it open, dump it right in, put on the lid, turn off the heat, boom!

So now I’m going to dump the ramen into my bowl, and I have this little spoon because I’m going to hold up the egg, so that the egg doesn’t get crushed in the process. So I dump it all. And now I’ll put the egg in. And now, if I want a runny yolk, I just leave it as it is. If I want the yolk to be more cooked, then what I’ll do is I’ll pick up some noodles and sort of cover it. And that will cook it. So that maybe when I’m half way through, or towards the end of my bowl of ramen, I have a delicious yolk that’s mostly cooked. Mmm, I love it. Ok, last thing, going to garnish with a little bit of cilantro. Not a must, just because I had it. And there you go, mom, auntie, a bowl of ramen.

As a thanks for being my camera lady, I’m going to let my friend Sara eat this delicious bowl of ramen.

What do you think Sara? >> It’s delicious.

I know I’m no master chef. And probably a lot of my students can make a much better noodle dish than I can. I’m obsessed with noodles right now, so please send me your recipes! Post a photo to my Facebook page, or maybe even post a video of you making your noodle dish. I can’t wait to get some recipes! That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.

The Letter E

In this American English pronunciation video we’re going to take a look at how this letter is pronounced.

I often get emails from people asking questions like, ‘Why is the CH in CHICAGO pronounced differently than the CH in CHOICE?’ SH vs. CH. And my answer is always, unfortunately, the sounds of American English do not correspond one-to-one with the letters of the alphabet. To know for sure how a word is pronounced, you need to either hear a native speaker say the word, or look up the word in a dictionary that has the International Phonetic Alphabet transcription.

Let’s take a look at the letter E. In the word ‘shed’, it is the EH, EH vowel. In the word ‘be’, it is the ee, ee vowel. In the word ‘pretty’, it’s the IH vowel, IH, pretty. In the word ‘anthem’, it is the schwa, uh, uh, anthem. In the word ‘sergeant’, it’s the AH vowel. Sah, sergeant. In the word ‘cafe’, it is the AY diphthong. Cafe.

So when you see this letter in a word, you can’t make assumptions about how it is pronounced. Look it up in a dictionary, or have native speaker say the word to you.

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

Placement and American English

In this American English pronunciation video, We’re going to talk about aa, aa, aa, and placement in American English.

I’ve found myself talking about placement a lot recently in my online course, and with my private students. This is because placement can effect the quality of a vowel, the sound of a vowel. Take, for example, AH and UH. The difference in the tongue position, in the lip position, jaw position, is very subtle. The sound is effected as much by the placement as by the change in the mouth position. AH — I feel that vibrating more here in the mouth. Ah. But UH, uh, I feel that more here. Ah, uh. The core sound of American English is, uh, very grounded here in the chest. But for other languages, there’s some manipulation in the throat, in the neck, that causes the placement, uh, to rise further up into the face. So if you’re trying to speak American English but all of your placement is here, you’re going to lack some of the quality of the vowel, uh, uh, that we need.

If you’ve never thought about placement before, this can be a pretty confusing concept. It’s not something you can see, like adjusting a lip position. But, it can make a big difference in your sound. As a first step, I invite you to just play around with placement like I did in the introduction of the video. AA. Point, ah, and try to feel the vibration there. Uh. Pay attention to what subtle differences are changing. Maybe there’s some tension in the neck and then a relaxation as you move from one placement to another.

Keep in mind we’re not changing the pitch of the sound, we’re changing the placement. Aa, aa. Same pitch, same vowel, different placement. Once you’ve been able to start feeling your voice in different places in your mouth, start trying to think about getting it down here. This requires a full relaxation of the throat. No muscles here should be engaged. Uh, uh. So when the throat relaxes and opens up, it allows the voice to settle down here. Uh, uh. If you’ve always spoken with a high placement, it might feel like your throat is already relaxed because that is what is natural and normal to you. So, try to push your placement really far forward. And see what changes happen to make that sound move forward. Aa. If I make that sound, I feel, aa, a tightening here, in my throat. So I know if I want to bring it back, I have to relax that. Aa, aa.

If you have a hard time hearing the difference between between Ah and Uh, ah, uh, thinking about placement may help.

As you work on your speech, think about the fact that the core sound of American English is uh, placed here, uh, uh. You may find that the quality of your vowels improve, and that you start to sound more American.

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.

American vs. British English, Vowels

In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over some of the differences in vowel sounds in American English and British English.

Today I’m going to make a video with another awesome English channel on YouTube, MinooAngloLink. The reason why I’m collaborating with them is because they’re in the UK. So, together we’re going to talk about some of the differences between American English and British English pronunciation.

Hi Minoo, can you tell me a little about your channel and AngloLink?

Hello everyone. My name is Minoo and my YouTube channel is called AngloLink. On this channel, I teach British English, and I base my lessons on what I find to be the most challenging areas of English grammar, pronunciation, or vocabulary for my learners. So, I hope you will come and have a look at some of my lessons.

Great. Let’s start with the OH diphthong. This is the sound we use: OH. The sound used in British English, however, is the schwa and the UH as in PULL sound. We so ‘know’, know. And in British, it’s ‘know’. You can see in the pronunciation on the left, the British pronunciation, that there’s less jaw drop for the first sound, than the American pronunciation on the right. Jaw drop is one of the topics I have to work a lot on with my students.

Know. [6x]

Let’s take a look at a sentence. Don’t go alone. Each of these words has the OH as in NO diphthong in American English. Don’t go alone. In British English, Don’t go alone. [4x]

The AH vowel. In American English, there are many words that have the letter O representing the AH as in FATHER vowel. For example, hot, honest, mom, top. The AH vowel has a good bit of jaw drop and totally relaxed lips. In British English, however, in these words where the O represents the AH, there’s a different vowel sound. There’s more lip rounding and less jaw drop. For example, I say ‘hot’. Minoo says ‘hot’.

Notice how much more Minoo’s lips round for this sound. In American English, the corners of the lips are completely relaxed, and the jaw drops a bit more.

Hot. [6x]

Honest. [6x]

An example sentence: Hot or iced coffee? Both ‘hot’ and ‘coffee’ have the AH vowel in American English.

Hot or iced coffee? [2x]

Now let’s talk about the AA vowel. In American English, when this vowel is followed by a nasal consonant, it’s no longer a pure vowel. With [n] and [m], we have an extra ‘uh’ sound after the vowel. If it’s followed by [ŋ], the AA vowel changes altogether and sounds more like the AY as in SAY diphthong. Check out the video I made for more information on this topic. Let’s look at some example words. First, AA+N. Can, can, can. Do you hear that extra ‘uh’ sound? Can. It’s what happens as the tongue relaxes down in the back before the tip raises for the N sound. Can, can. Now, let’s hear Minoo say it. Can. The vowel is more pure there, right from the AA into the N sound.

Can. [6x]

An example with M: ham, ham. Again, you can hear the UH sound as my tongue relaxes down in the back before the lips close for the M sound. Ham, ham. Minoo says it:

Ham. [6x]

And now when the AA vowel is followed by the NG consonant sound, like in the word ‘thanks’. When we say it, thanks, it’s much more like the AY diphthong than the AA vowel. Thanks. [3x]. Minoo says it:

Thank, thanks. [3x]

And finally, let’s talk about the UR vowel. This vowel is in words like girl, world, first, hurt, person, worst. But in British English, the R sound isn’t included. For example, I say ‘first’. Minoo says:

First. [6x]

I say ‘worst’. Minoo says:

Worst. [6x]

I say ‘girl’. Minoo says:

Girl. [6x]

So there you have four differences in American vs. British English. If you liked this video, click here or in the description box on YouTube to see a video I made with Minoo on her channel. The topic is consonant differences in American and British English. It also has a list of words with both British and American English pronunciation.

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

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