Phát âmRSSPosts: 112
The R consonant sound. This is truly one of the hardest sounds in American English. Before I go into how to make it, I want to talk about two ways not to make it: some common mistakes that I see in my students. First, is to make a D-like sound, ruh, ruh, where there the tongue flips. If you can’t hold out the sound, rrrrrr, then it’s not a proper R sound. Also, some of my students are able to get a pretty good R sound by, incorrectly, curling the tongue backwards, rrrr. Though you can hold this out, and it does make an ok, R sound, it’s sort of a hollow sound and doesn’t quite have the tight quality of a correct R sound. How to make the R sound correctly? Rr.
To make this sound, the tongue will pull back somewhat. It will fatten and raise in the middle, rr, rr, about here. Because it is raising, the tongue will actually be touching the insides and bottom of the top teeth, rr, rr, on either side of the mouth, rr, rr. Because the tongue has pulled back a bit and fattened, the front part of the tongue does come down, but it’s not touching anything inside the mouth, rr, rr, rr. And you can see that the corners of the lips come in, bringing the lips away from the face, rr, rr. If the R comes at the beginning of a word, like in my name, Rachel, the lips may take a very tight circle, Rachel. If it comes at the end of a word or a syllable, it may be more relaxed, like in the word father, father, rr, rr. You can see the lips are not as rounded as in Rachel.
Here we see a photo of 3 different words with the R sound. The first is my name, Rachel, so that’s a beginning R, an R that begins a word. The second is the word proud, so the R is not the initial sound, but it is towards the beginning of the syllable, before the vowel. And the third is the word whatever, where the R sound comes at the end. Notice on all three of these sounds that the corners of the mouth come in a little bit, causing the lips to round somewhat.
Here we see a photo of the first R sound in the word cracker on the right compared with the mouth at rest on the left. Notice that the corners of the lips are pushed forward and in a little bit. Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. The soft palate is raised on this sound. In the middle of the mouth the tongue fattens up and raises, pressing against the insides of the top teeth. This draws the tip of the tongue back so that it is not touching anything Here we see this same R sound, the first R in cracker, but now it’s on the left, on the right we see the R in the word ‘whatever’, the R sound that comes at the end of a word. You can see that the tongue position is a little bit different in that the tongue is slightly further back in the final R sound. Because of this further back position, R sounds at the beginning of syllables feel more forward in the face, whereas R sounds at the end of syllables feel further back in the mouth. Sample words: run, relax, father. Sample sentence: Whenever Rebecca drives her car around New York, she really worries about parking it on the street. 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.
Whenever, lips form the tight circle for the W, ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’ and the tongue tip up to make the N. Bottom lip up to make the V and here’s an unaccented ‘ur’ syllable. Rebecca, lips together for the B. Back of the tongue up for the KK sound. Drives, lip position for the R. Bottom lip up for the V sound. Her, R lip position, car, R lip position, and you can see the tongue moving up in the back to make the R, car. To New York, tight circle for the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’, York. The R is at the end of the syllable here, so the lips are more relaxed. She, lips form the SH position. Really, this is a beginning R, and now look at how tight that lip circle is for the R in really. Really, tongue makes the L. Worries, lips form a tight circle for the W, worries. About, lips together for the B. Parking, again you see the tongue move up in the back for the R. Parking it on, tongue up to make the N. The, tongue through the teeth for the TH. Street. Again, lip position for the R. Street, corners of the lips pull back for the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’.
Whenever, lips begin in the tight circle for the W. Whe-, tongue tip up to make the N, -ever, bottom lip up to make the V. And then a quick RR sound, Rebecca. Tongue up in the back for the kk sound. Drives, lips form that R position. Bottom lip up to make the V. Her, again, note the lip position for the R, also on car. Now here you can see how far back the tongue is. This is the front part of the tongue coming back down from where the middle is up, pressing against the insides of the top teeth. To, tongue tip up to make the T. It’s reduced here to the schwa, to, to New York, New, the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’. York, Y consonant sound. She, lips form the SH sound. Really, here again, notice how tight the circle is for the R. Really. Worries, again, tight circle, this time for the W. Here again you can see that the tongue is quite far back for the R sound. Worries. About, lips together for the B, again together for the P, parking. Here the ‘ah’ as in ‘father’ followed by the R consonant sound, the R consonant sound has a way of taking over this vowel. And you can see that the lips are in the R position and that the front part of the tongue has pulled back as the middle part of the tongue has fattened up and raised. This is the front part of the tongue as it is dropping back down from the roof of the mouth. Parking it. Tongue tip up to make the T. It on the, tongue through the teeth for the TH. And street. ST and the R consonant sound opening into the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel sound. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over a controversial new Kmart commercial that bases its joke on American English pronunciation.
First, if you want to check out the commercial, click here, or follow the link in the description. In the commercial, Kmart takes advantage of our use of Stop consonants in American English. They use the word ‘ship’ to sound like the word ‘shit’ in the idiom ‘to shit your pants’. Let’s take a look at why these two words sound the same.
The only difference in pronunciation is the final sound. Both of these sounds are stop consonants. Stop consonants have two parts. A stop of air, and a release of air. We often leave out the release of air, especially when the next word begins with a consonant. So, instead of saying ‘ship my’, where the lips open and release the air before the next sound, we’ll say ‘ship my’, without releasing the air before the M. Ship my, ship my. The same is true of the word ‘shit’, we don’t usually say ‘shit my’, releasing the air of the T before the next consonant sound. We usually say ‘shit my’, where we hold the air and go right into the next sound, in this case, the M, without the release. Shit my, shit my. When the release is left out, these two phrases sound almost exactly the same. Ship my pants, shit my pants. Kmart wants you to know you can ship any item they don’t have in the store for free, and to make sure you remember, they’re making it sound a lot like the idiom to ‘shit your pants’.
What does this idiom mean? First I want to point out that ‘shit’ is a cuss word, a dirty word, as you probably already know. You want to use this idiom only among friends, in a casual setting, when you feel confident they won’t be offended. It’s a colorful way to express that you’re worried about something. For example: I’m shitting my pants over the test on Friday. Or, I’m scared to fly. Don’t shit your pants, you’ll be fine.
‘Shit’ begins with the SH sound, sh, where the teeth are together, the lips flare, and the front part of the tongue is very close to the roof of the mouth. Then we have the IH as in SIT vowel, with a little jaw drop, then the stop T, where we cut off the airflow, shit, shit, mm, the M consonant, lips come together for that, shit mm-mmy. The AI as in BUY diphthong. You do need some jaw drop for the first half of that diphthong. Shit my. Let’s take a moment here to talk about stress in this phrase: SHIT and PANTS are the two content words, and MY is a function word. So it will be unstressed. The stress pattern is DA-da-DA. Long-short-long. DA-da-DA. Shit my pants. So ‘my’ needs to be quick, and lower in pitch than the other two words: my, my, my, shit my. Then we have ‘pants’: lips come together for the P. Then the AA vowel is followed by the N consonant. When the AA vowel is followed by a nasal consonant, we have an ‘uh’ sound between. Paa-uh-nts. Check out the video I made that explains that concept if you haven’t already. Then we have the N consonant, TS sound. Normally the front part of the tongue will go to the roof of the mouth for the N and T sounds, like this. But since they are followed by the S here, you can take a short cut, and use not the tip but the top part of the tongue just behind the tip, here. That way your tip can be free to make the SS sound, where it presses behind the bottom front teeth with the lips closed. To make the S, pull the tongue away from the roof of the mouth. NTS, NTS. Pants. pants. Shit my pants.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning this expressive idiom.
Practice your English — try it out yourself. Make a video using this idiom and post it as a video response to this video on YouTube. I’m very interested to see what you come up with.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
The P and B consonants. These two sounds are paired together because they take the same mouth position. P is unvoiced, pp, meaning only air passes through your mouth. And B is voiced, bb, meaning, uh, uh, bb, you’re making a sound with your vocal cords. To make this sound, the lips will stay together while the teeth part a little bit, pp, bb. These are stop consonants. In stop consonants, there are two parts. There is a stop of the airflow, and a release. So the stop of the airflow happens, pp, as the lips remain closed, and the release when they part and the air comes through. Let’s look at the nature of a stop consonant in the sample word nap. Na–, the lips are together, cutting off the airflow, nap, pp, and they part, the air is released. Stop consonants at the ends of words or syllables are sometimes not released. In other words, there’s just the first part, the stop of air flow. Let’s take for example the sentence I’m going up later. I’m going up later. So the lips came together to make the P — I’m going up later — but when they opened and the sound continued, it simply went into the L consonant sound, which was next, without the release. I’m going up, I’m going up, I’m going up later.
Here is the sound from the front, where the lips are together but the teeth are slightly parted. That is why it doesn’t look relaxed. And here from the side. Again, you can see this tension in the chin as the teeth are slightly parted even though the lips are closed. Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. The soft palate is raised in this sound, and the tongue itself raises just a little bit, but the tip of the tongue is still touching the bottom front teeth. Sample words: pad, bad, pot, bought. Sample sentence: Pick a big print for the bedspread. Now you will see this sample 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.
Pick, the lips press together as the jaw drops slightly. A big, again, the lips press together as the jaw drops. Print, again the P sound. Tongue goes up to make the T. Lip comes up to make the F in ‘for’. The, lips together, bb, bedspread, and here again to make the P in spread. Jaw drops to make the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’ vowel sound, and the tip of the tongue up to make the D. And here from an angle. The lips press together even as the jaw drops and the teeth part. Pick, the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ sound. Pick a big, again the lips come together for the B, big. And again for the P, print. Tongue up for the T. For the. Lips together for the B in bed-, and again for the p in -spread. The ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’ and the tongue up to make that D. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
International Phonetic Alphabet symbols: [p], [b]
In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to ride our bikes into Brooklyn to make some pizza. And of course, you’ll learn some American English pronunciation on the way, including the idioms to catch up and to fill in. Oh boy!
This is my bicycle, Jenny. I didn’t name her, she came named. Tonight we’re going to go for a bike ride into Brooklyn. Brooklyn is the borough just east of Manhattan (one of the boroughs just east of Manhattan). So let’s look at Brooklyn. It has two O’s. Now, there are four different ways to pronounce two O’s: oo, as in boo, uh as in book, uh as in blood, and oh as in brooch. So how is it pronounced in Brooklyn? Uh, uh, Brooklyn. What’s your guess? The answer is: it’s the same as the vowel in ‘book’. Brooklyn. Now. Let’s get going before it gets dark.
It’s about a 45-minute bike ride from my home in Manhattan to my friend’s home in Brooklyn. It involves taking the Manhattan bridge over the East River.
It’s seven o’clock on the nose, seven o’clock sharp. Those idioms mean, of course, exactly seven o’clock. We’re right on time. We’re very punctual. Punk – chew – ul. Let’s go Sara.
>> So we rode our bikes in from Brooklyn.
>> No! In from Manhattan!
>> We rode our bikes from Manhattan into Brooklyn — because it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other. So we’re making some dinner, we’re making pizza, and we’re going to catch up. >> Um-hm, we’re going to catch up. >> We’re going to catch up. >> Find out what’s going on in each other’s lives.
>> That’s right. Catch up. An idiom that you would use if you haven’t seen somebody in a while, and you want to know what’s going on. You would say, let’s catch up. You could also say, fill me in. What else could you say? Ketchup, by the way, spelled this way, is also a condiment.
>> This girl can cook. You remember — from the turkey. Cook. Does that ‘uh’ sound sound familiar? It’s the same sound as in ‘book’ and ‘Brooklyn’. Listen again.
>> This girl can cook. You remember — from the turkey.
>> Oh boy.
>> Oh boy. I like that phrase.
>> Oh boy?
>> It’s a good one. What, do you say that when you’re exasperated? Oh boy.
>> Overwhelmed, like when you’re overwhelmed?
>> It’s a good one. Oh boy.
>> Or excited.
>> Or excited. Oh boy!
>> Is this done Beads? I don’t know?
>> Yeah, no, I mean, yeah, I think, well. The first pie always takes longer because of the oven.
Did you hear how I said ‘cuz of the oven’? Cuzof, cuzof, cuzof. If I said that out of the context of a sentence, nobody would know what I was talking about. But as a part of the whole, that’s they way it makes sense to say it. Cuzof. We reduce it, it’s low in pitch, cuzofthe, cuzofthe, cuzofthe oven. Then the ‘oven’ is the stressed word. So, this is very important in English: that the function words, the less important words, are low in pitch, strung together, maybe reduced, to contrast with the shape of the stressed word: cuzofthe oven.
>> So, when it’s pretty much cooked. Actually, when it’s cooked.
>> Hold on, did you, did you guys notice, she just said ‘pretty’, with a flap T. Can you say that again?
>> What? It’s pretty much?
>> Yeah, but say it at the camera!
>> Pretty much.
>> Thank you for the demonstration.
>> You’re welcome!
>> Ok, when it’s pretty much cooked?
>> When it’s pretty much cooked, we’re going to bring it out, and we’re going to put arugula—
>> Hold on. Did you notice? She’s using ‘gonna’. We’re gonna bring it out, we’re gonna put arugula.
>> Yes, we’re going to put arugula, and we’re going to put prosciutto, and we’re going to crumble some more blue cheese and we’re going to drizzle it with honey.
>> Wow, that sounds amazing, and it was such a good demonstration of using ‘gonna’. Thank you.
>> You’re welcome.
>> This looks pretty good. Pretty good.
>> Pretty: flap T!
>> Ok. Let’s slice this baby up.
>> My favorite topping: pepperoni. I like it almost as much as I like buying shoes. Then we made a second pizza, totally different from the first, and sat down to a nice meal. After the lovely evening, it was time to say good-bye.
>> Bye! Thank you so much!
>> Bye! You’re welcome.
>> It was good to see you, it was so good to catch up!
>> It was good to catch up.
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.
The ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ vowel sound. To make this sound, the back part of the tongue raises up towards the back part of the roof of the mouth, uh. The front of the tongue remains down, touching lightly behind bottom front teeth, uh. You can see also that the lips round a little bit for this sound, so the corners come in a little bit. Uh, pull.
Here is the ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ sound on the right, compared with the mouth at rest on the left. Notice that the corners of the mouth are pushed slightly forward, which causes the center part of the lips to come away from the face. Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. As with all vowels, the soft palate is raised. But more importantly, notice the position of the tongue. It stretches up and back with the back part of the tongue. This pulls the tip of the tongue back. So the tongue is very close to but not quite touching the bottom teeth. The ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ sound. Sample words: should, would, put. Sample sentence: Would you look up in the cookbook how much sugar we’ll need for the cookies? 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.
Would, the lips form the W. The vowel sound here is very quick. There it is, we are already into the D and Y. You look up in the cook-, uh vowel, -book, another uh vowel. How much su-, sugar. Another uh vowel sound. We’ll need – we’ll, tongue up for the L and N, need. For the cookies. Another uh vowel sound. -ies, cookies. And now from the angle. Would. The lips form the W. Again, this vowel very quick. You look, again, look has the uh vowel but it’s very quick. Up, here the jaw is dropping for the ‘up’. In the, tongue comes through the teeth for the TH. Cook-, now here we have the ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ vowel, =-book, and we have it again. How. Lips come together for the M in much, sugar, another ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ vowel. We’ll need, the lips form the W, corners of the mouth pull back for the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel in ‘need’. For the, tongue through the teeth for the ‘the’. Cookies. Another ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’, and the corners of the mouth pull back for the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’, the second syllable of cookies. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
I worked with a student recently to get a good, clean N sound. One thing that helped her was to think of the tongue position being similar to the D. In this American English pronunciation video, we’ll look at that concept.
The N position similar to the position of the D. Let’s take the words ‘dice’ and ‘nice’. For the D, dd, dd, you can see the tongue position is raised here, where the front part is touching just behind the front top teeth. Dd, dd, dice. Now look at the position for the N: nn, nn, nice. Again, it’s the very front part of the tongue that’s raising and touching right here. Nice. Dice, nice. So, a good exercise to work on your N is to switch back and forth between syllables that start with a D and syllables that start with an N. Da-da-da-da-da, na-na-na-na-na, for example. Do use a mirror to make sure that it’s the front part of your tongue that’s raising. If it’s any part of the tongue further back that’s touching the roof of the mouth, the N is going to start to sound somewhat like an NG. To have a very clean N sound, it needs to be the very front part of the tongue that’s making that movement.
I also want to point out that the jaw does not have to close for the tongue to come in to the N position. Na-na-na.In fact, if you close the jaw every time you make the N, the sound is going to get a little trapped, and it’s going to be a lot more work. Let’s take for example the word ‘banana’. Banana. Watch my mouth as I say that. Banana. You can see the jaw hardly has to move at all in that word. All of the articulation happens with the tongue. Banana, banana.
I hope this video will help you focus your work to get a good, clean N sound. En-en-en-en-en. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English. I’d like to take moment for a quick plug for a new course I’m developing. It’s going to be an 8-week conversation course that runs in April and May of 2012. It will bring together videos,audio clips, and exercise PDFs that I’ve made for my private students. So, I’ll be pulling in the topics that I find I work on the most with my students. Each week is structured with certain topics. There will be a lot of drilling practice, and also opportunity for you to record yourself and upload it for my comment. There will also be group projects, where you’ll be engaging in conversation with one another. Because this is my first time running such a course, I am offering it at a discount, and I’m also limiting the number of students to 30 So visit my website for more information, and do consider signing up. I really think it will take you a long way in your pronunciation practice.
The N consonant sound. This sound is made by the front/top part of the tongue raising and touching the roof of the mouth, nn, nn. The teeth part a bit, the lips are open, nn, nn, and the vocal cords make sound, nn, nn. Here is the N consonant sound on the right compared with the mouth at rest. You can see that the lips are parted and the jaw is slightly dropped for this sound.
Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. The tongue raises in the front and touches the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth. So actually the tip of the tongue is touching the front teeth. This is one of the few sounds in American English where the soft palate remains down. This allows air to pass over the soft palate, and causes it to feel somewhat in the nose. It is a nasalconsonant along with M and NG. Sample words: nice, can, dinner. Sample sentence: Now I don’t know when I can come. Now you will 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.
Now, jaw drops and the tongue goes to the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth for the N. Down for the ‘ow’ as in ‘now’ diphthong. I, with the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. Don’t, the lips are rounded here, so you can’t really see the tongue goes up behind the teeth and back down. Know when, lips make the tight circle. Tongue up for the N. I can come with the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ vowel sound and the lips together for the M consonant sound. And now from the angle. Jaw drops while the tongue goes to the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth. Now, ‘ow’ as in ‘now’ diphthong. I don’t, tongue up to the roof of the mouth for the N, and again for the N in know. When, lips make the tight circle for the W and the tongue up to the roof of the mouth for the N. I can, tongue raises in the back for the K sound. Come, with the ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ and the lips close for the M consonant sound. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
The M consonant. This sound is simply made by pressing the lips together lightly, mm, mm, while making a sound with the vocal cords, mm, mm. In speech, the teeth may begin to part a little in preparation for the vowel in the word, mm, mm, Mom, map. Pulling the lips a bit. Here we see the M consonant sound on the right compared with the mouth at rest. You can see the lips press slightly together. Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. The M consonant sound is one of the few sounds in American English where the soft palate remains down like the mouth at rest. This allows air to pass up over the soft palate, which results in the sound feeling somewhat in the nose, which is why it is categorized as a nasal consonant along with N and NG. Sample words: map, hammer, bottom. Sample sentence: My mom might come tomorrow morning. Now you will see this sentence up close and in slow motion, both straight on and from an angle, so you can really see how the mouth moves making this sound.
Lips press lightly together for the M in my, open into the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. Down again for the first M in mom, and for the second M in mom. Might, with the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. Back of the tongue makes the K sound, come. Lips together for the M in come. Tomorrow, teeth closed for the T and the lips together for the M. ‘Oh’ as in ‘no’ diphthong and together again for the M in morning. Tongue up to make the N, and then the back of the tongue raises for the NG sound. Lips press lightly together for the M in my. ‘Ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong, together again for the first M in mom and for the second M in mom. Might with the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. Back of the tongue making the kk sound, come. Lips together for the M in come. Tomorrow. T sound, lips together for the M. R consonant sound and the ‘oh’ as in ‘no’ diphthong. together again for the M. Morning. Tongue up in the front for the N and then up further back for the NG. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
I recently got an email from someone asking about the light L and dark L. She said, if an L is in the middle of a word, isn’t it always a dark L. And the answer is no. An L can be in the middle of the word, but still at the beginning of a syllable. Let’s take for example the word ‘elongate’ – to make something longer. This can be pronounced several ways, I pronounce it with the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ vowel in the first syllable. But no matter how it is pronounced, the middle syllable is always begun with the L consonant sound. And since it is beginning the syllable, it is a light L. So it is the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ followed by a light L beginning that second syllable. Elongate.
We can compare that with the word ‘eel’ which has the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’ followed by the L. The L here is at the end of the syllable, therefore it is a dark L. Elongate, eel. Do you here this—uh—dark sound that comes before the L in the word eel? Ee-uh-l. In the word elongate, elongate, there is not that dark sound. This is because the tongue, ee-uh-l, which pulls back for the dark L, does not do it in the word elongate. Elongate. The tip simply moves straight up to the top without pulling back first. So an L at the beginning of a word, that can only be a light L. L at the end of a word, that can only be a dark L. But an L that comes in the middle of a word can be light or dark, depending on if it is beginning or ending the syllable. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
I’ve recently done a video to help you understand the difference between the R and the L consonant sounds. In this video, you will get the opportunity to practice those sounds. You will hear a word pair, and then you will be given time to repeat the word pair. When you are repeating the words, you will see a photo of either the R or the L consonant sound. I urge you to practice this with a mirror and to watch your mouth, and study to make sure that it is taking the correct position for either the R or the L consonant sound.
Wrap, lap. Rain, lane. Rest, lest. Rate, late. Write, light. Rent, lent.
Now you’ll hear word pairs where the R or L consonant sound comes at the end of the words. Cobble, robber. Apple, dapper. Label, later. Battle, batter. Shovel, shudder. Frank, flank. Grass, glass. Brain, blame. Broke, blown. Press, please. Creep, clip. Sorrow, shallow.
Now you will hear word pairs where the R and the L consonant sounds are reversed. So make sure that you are doing the L at the right spot and the R at the right spot. Rail, lair. Real, leer. Role, lore. Rule, lure.