Phát âmRSSPosts: 112
Today we are going to go over the difference between the R [ɹ] and the L consonant sounds. Many of my students have problems hearing and feeling the difference between these two sounds. Therefore, they have problems saying the two sounds correctly. First, let’s review the mouth position. To make the L, the tongue comes forward, and the tip of the tongue presses against the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth, or sometimes comes through the teeth. To make the R sound, the tip of the tongue is down while the back/mid part of the tongue raises. The back/mid part of the tongue presses against the insides of the top teeth. So, to make the L sound, the tongue tip is up and forward, and to make the R sound it is down and further back. In the R sound, the tip of the tongue is not touching anything. Also, in the L sound, the lips remain more neutral. In the R sound, they round somewhat. And sometimes, at the beginning of a word especially, they round a lot.
Let’s look at a word pair where the only difference between the two words is the R and the L consonant. Rate, late. Here you see both of the sounds side-by-side. Notice in the R sound for ‘rate’, that the lips are more rounded. In the L sound, the tip of the tongue is up against the roof of the mouth, behind the front teeth. Now you will see me speak one of the words, either ‘rate’ or ‘late’, with no sound. I want you to study the mouth position and guess which one it is. The word that I said is ‘rate’, which begins with the R. Note the starting mouth position. Rate. The lips were in a tight circle for the R sound. Now let’s look at a word pair where it is the sound that comes at the end of the words that makes the difference. Cuddle, which ends in the L sound, and cutter, which ends in the R sound.
Here the sounds are a little more relaxed as they come at the end of the word. However, the tongue is still up in position, tongue tip touching behind the front top teeth for the L sound, and the lips are still somewhat rounded for the R sound. You can see this dark space in the mouth for the R sound. That is because the tongue is further back in this sound. Here again I will say one of the words without the sound. Guess what the word is based on the mouth position. Cuddle. The word was ‘cuddle’ with the L sound. And now a word pair where the R and L sound comes in the middle of the word. Feeling and fearing. Here again are both sounds. The lips are more rounded for the R sound. And the tongue tip for the L is, as expected, raised to the roof of the mouth.
In the R sound you can see more dark space in the mouth because the tongue is pulled further back. In the L sound the tongue is more forward, and therefore you can see it more easily through the teeth. Again, I will repeat one of the words without sound. Guess which word it is, based on the mouth position you see. The word was ‘feeling’, with the L sound.
I hope this helps you to understand how these sounds are different. When you practice, use a mirror. And make sure that you see in the mirror the correct mouth position for these sounds.
I recently received an email: Rachel, one sound that I’ve always had trouble reproducing convincingly is TL. This is the sound in words like mental, title, brittle, capital, and bottle. The word Seattle is especially difficult for me to say correctly. It would be great if you could make a video on how to produce this sound. Also, is the TL in the words I listed even pronounced the same? It seems like there’s something different going on.
You’re exactly right that the Ts in all those words are not pronounced the same. When it comes to wondering how to pronounce a T, I will put a link on my website to a video that someone else has made that I think is a very good explanation for that. But let’s talk about the pronunciation of these words. Mental. Mental is the one word out of the ones you listed where I would actually say a tt sound for the T. Mental. He is mental. So, tt, to make that, your tongue, tt, has to pull away from your teeth and let air out. It then goes into the dark L because this L is ending a syllable. Ment- al. So, the jaw has to drop and the tongue has to bunch up a little to make that vowel-like sound before the tongue moves to make the L. Mental. Mental. So the tongue pulls away, fattens up a little bit, and then finishes up by curling to make the L. Mental. Now, as I’ve said in previous blog entries about the dark L, the tongue does not always necessarily move up into that position to finish off the L. Mental, mental. You will definitely hear native speakers pronounce it that way. Mental. So in that case, the tongue simply pulls back from the teeth to fatten up to make that vowel-like sound, mental, and leave it at that.
The word title. In this case, the second T is pronounced as a D, -tle, -tle, which means the vocal cords need to keep producing sound through that movement. In this word more so than in the word mental, the movement of the tongue feels very sharp to me. Title. For the D it’s in position here. -tle. And it pulls back very quickly to make that ul sound for the dark L, before the tip of the tongue moves back in. So the tip of the tongue is pressing there for the D, it comes away to make that vowel-like sound, and it moves back up to make the final part of the dark L sound.
Title is the same as the rest of the words you listed: brittle, capital, bottle, where it is a D sound going into a dark L sound. And this is also true of the word Seattle.
Actually I was just about to finish up this blog entry when I was reminded of an example that I wanted to use. And that is, the difference between the word ‘word’, and the word ‘world’. I have noticed in my teaching that that is a very difficult distinction for some people to make And, since world contains this dark L, I wanted to talk about it. Watch closely as I say both words slowly. Word, word, world, world. Now, I always say that word is really one syllable, and world is really two syllables, although in actuality, world, it is one syllable. But you need to say this distinct uuh vowel that comes before the L to make the dark L. So let’s talk about world. Wor-rr-uuhh-uuhh, now that is that sound that comes before the tongue moves up in the dark L. And as I said, in the dark L, you don’t actually necessarily need to finish off the sound with the tongue moving all the way up. Wor-uuhh-ll-ld. Lld. World. Word, world, word, world.
The L consonant sound. This sound is especially difficult for people who don’t have it in their native language. This might be because there’s actually two parts to it. It can be either a light L or a dark L. However, in the International Phonetic Alphabet, there is only one symbol that represents this sound, either a light L or a dark L. The L is light if it comes before the vowel or diphthong in the syllable. If it comes after the vowel or diphthong in a syllable, it is a dark L. First, the light L. To make this sound, the tip of the tongue reaches up, ll, ll, and touches the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth, ll, ll, as the vocal cords are making sound. I’ve also noticed, as I’ve studied my own speech in slow motion, that sometimes I make this sound by bringing the tip of the tongue through the teeth, ll, ll, similar to the position for th, th, the TH sounds. Either position is fine, ll, like, touching the roof of the mouth, Ll, like, coming through the teeth, like the TH. Both make the same sound. That is the light L.
And now the dark L. As I said, an L is a dark L if it comes after the vowel or diphthong in a syllable, like in the word real. Dark L’s have two parts, The first is a vowel-like sound that is not written in IPA, but is certainly there. And the second is simply the same position as the light L. Lets go back to the example word, real, to talk about this. In IPA it is written with three symbols: the R, the ee vowel, and the L. But as I say it slowly, notice that there are actually four sounds. There is a sound between the ee and the ll. Rrrreeeaaalllll. It’s this third sound, this vowel-like sound that comes before the L but is not represented by a symbol in IPA. So the dark L is made up of two parts: this vowel-like sound and then the L. What is the vowel-like sound? It’s very similar to the ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’ sound.
So, the tip of the tongue has pulled back a little bit, it’s not touching anything. The tongue is raised somewhat towards the middle, and the lips round a little bit before the tip of the tongue moves up to make the L sound. So if you’re saying a word like real or pool, where the tip of the tongue is forward for the vowel, real, it has to pull back, ri-, uh, ul, to make that dark L sound. If you leave it out, real, real, it does not sound correct. And let’s look at the word pool. The ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’ vowel has the tongue tip forward. Pool. So the tongue has to pull back a little bit, the tip doesn’t touch anything, before the tip moves up to make the L sound. Pool. So the light L: one sound, ll. The dark L, two sounds, ul. First a vowel sound like the ‘uh’ as in ‘pull’, then the L sound. In the light L, ll, it’s just the tip of the tongue that’s either raising or coming through the teeth. So the sound will feel very far forward. In the dark L, the middle part of the tongue is raising a bit in that vowel-like sound. So since the middle part of the tongue is doing some work, ul, ul, the sound will feel more in the middle of the mouth, further back than the light L. This is a photo of four different mouth positions for the L sound. As you can see in the first two, the tongue actually comes through the teeth. Number 1 is the L on the word last, and number 2 on the word flew. In number 3 you can see that the tongue is not coming through the teeth. This is on the word flight. In this word, the tip of the tongue is touching the roof of the mouth, and the teeth are closed before it opens into the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. And in number 4 you see the position of the L in the word fall. Here the L comes at the end of the syllable, so it is a dark L. So it has this vowel-like sound that comes before it and you see this mouth shape, where the lips come in a little bit at the corners, making the uh sound as part of the dark L.
Here we see a photo of the mouth at rest on the left compared with the light L sound on the right. Here some of the parts of the mouth are drawn in. You can see that the soft palate is raised on this sound. As you know from these forward-facing photos, the tongue can sometimes come through the teeth, but not always. Here, this would show where the tongue does not come through the teeth, but rather, where it touches the roof of the mouth just where it meets the teeth. The tongue tip stretches up for this. But in some of those forward-facing photos, you saw the tongue come through the teeth. For that the tongue reaches forward and touches just below the bottom of the top tooth, showing some of the tongue. Here are both of those tongue positions. Here we see a different comparison. Rather than comparing the mouth at rest, this photo compares both parts of the dark L sound. On the left, you see the vowel-like sound that comes before the L, and on the right you see the L. In the vowel-like sound, the tongue fattens up towards the middle and raises slightly as the lips round a bit. In the second half of the dark L sound the tongue moves forward. In fact, this vowel-like sound happens as the tongue is moving forward into the final position of the dark L. Sample words for the light L: lap, fly, relief. Sample words for the dark L: fill, tool, cuddle. Sample sentence: Last fall we got a good deal on last minute flights when we flew to California. 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.
The first word, last, begins with an L. It comes through the teeth. Fall, the second word, has a dark L. The bottom lip comes up to make the F sound. The ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ and the dark L. Note the shape of the lips. And there the tongue goes up to the roof of the mouth to finish the L sound. We got, tongue comes up to make the T. A good deal, this has the dark L. You see the tongue come up there. On last minute flights. You see the tongue was up at the teeth and then came down for the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. When we flew. Now here you can’t really see the tongue because the next sound is the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’ and the lips are too tight to see. California. I bring the tongue through the teeth to make this L. The bottom lip comes up for the F, -ornia. The tongue comes up to make the N and pulls down.
And now from an angle. Last fall. Lip comes up to make the F. The ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ and the dark L, watch the tongue come up here to finish the dark L sound. We got, tongue taps up there to make the T, a good deal, another dark L, you can see the tongue come up here to make the end part of the L. On last minute flights, you can see the tongue come down quickly from having been behind the teeth. When we flew, again, there’s an L in this word but you can’t see it because the lips are so tight on the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’. To Cal-, tongue makes the L, California. Tongue comes up, this time it’s making the N in California. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
See Wikipedia’s page for more technical information, as well as a list of languages in which this sound occurs.
In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over the difference between the [w] and [ɹ] consonants.
A lot of people have problems with the R consonant sound. So what they’ll do is substitute in a W consonant. We don’t want to do that. How are these two sounds the same? For both of these sounds, the lips will round. Ww, ww, wow. Or, for the R, rr, Rachel, Rachel. The tongue position, however, is quite different. For the W consonant, the tongue tip is down here, and the back part of the tongue stretches up, so the tongue stretches this way. Ww, ww, wow. For the R consonant, the back part of the tongue does stretch up, here towards the middle part of the roof of the mouth. The front part of the tongue pulls back. So, with the W, the tongue is stretching. With the R, the tongue is sort of pulling up into itself. So, the front part of the tongue shouldn’t be touching anything. The middle part of the tongue is raising, it’s lifting here towards the roof of the mouth, and it’s touching either the roof of the mouth, or the insides/bottom of teeth here. Rr, rr. So, for the W, stretch. For the R, pull.
Some students can get a solid beginning R sound, but then still have problems in clusters. For example, the word break, break. This will often sound like ‘bweak, bweak’. So the only issue is the tongue position. You have to take just a little bit more time to make sure your tongue is pulling back and up. You might want to hold out the R as you practice, brrrrrrrreak. And feel the contact here to make sure you know that you’re getting the right tongue position. Here’s a list of the R consonant clusters. And remember, the tongue must pull back and up. Feel that point of contact. Practice slowly.
BR, bread. CR, crash. DR, drop. FR, friend. GR, great. PR, price. SCR, screen. SHR, shred. SPR, spring. STR, street. THR, three. TR, tree.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
These excerpts are from a lesson with my friend in which we were going over the ww, ww, W sound. ‘At odds with-‘ Oo, oo, with. With. ‘With.’ Um-hmm, so the mouth starts really small. ‘At odds with-‘ Not, not vv, ww. Not vv, vv, but rather, w-with, w-with. ‘With’. That was perfect. ‘With. At odds with-‘ Very good.
‘He also worshipped, worshipped-‘ So look at my mouth at the beginning of that sound: worshipped, w-worshipped. ‘Wor-, worshipped.’ Um-hmm. Here the W sound is in the middle of a word, and it was not his habit to bring his mouth into this position. On the word flowers, he wanted to say: flo-ers, flo-ers. Watch closely: flowers, flowers, flowers. ‘And flowers-‘ Flow- ‘Flowers.’ Ok, your mouth has to come in to make this tiny oo – flow – flow. ‘Flowers.’ Good. ‘Flowers and human-‘ Flow- ‘Flowers.’ Right.
Here again, he initially makes the ww sound as a V sound, vv. But when he corrects it and brings his mouth in, ww, it sounds really great. This is the word ‘one’, which must start small. One. ‘One of-‘ Ok, we need to go back to the word ‘one’. ‘One, one.’ Yeah, that’s right. It starts really small. ‘One.’ At the end there, it looked and sounded perfect.
The W consonant sound. To make this sound, ww, ww, the lips form a tight circle like the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’ vowel. Also like that vowel, the back of the tongue reaches up high in the back. The front part of the tongue remains forward, lightly touching behind the bottom front teeth, or just a little further back than that, ww, ww. What makes this different from the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’ vowel is a little closing off here in the throat, ww, ww, ww. That gives it that W consonant quality. Well, ww, ww, welcome.
Here is the W consonant sound on the right compared with the mouth at rest on the left. The lips are very rounded, which means the center part of the lips come away from the face. Here, parts of the mouth are drawn in. The soft palate is raised in this sound, and the tongue stretches up towards it in the back, but it does not touch the soft palate. The tip of the tongue is low, touching where the bottom front teeth meet the soft tissue. The W sound. Sample words: whisper, wish, wine. Words that start with a W-H can be pronounced with a light H sound before the W: whisper, whisper. I find this a little dated and formal, and I never use it. I always simply use the W sound. Whisper. Sample sentence: When would you want to see the flower show? The W is a glide consonant, considered a semi-vowel. In the word flower, written with a W, in IPA there is no W. However, you will glide through a W sound between the ‘ow’ as in ‘now’ diphthong and the schwa, flower. The word ‘show’, also written with a W. But that is the ‘oh’ as in ‘no’ diphthong. You’ll see that the lips do not form the tight circle that the W has. 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.
This sound is easy to see. The lips make the tight circle. When, ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’, tongue tip up for the N. Again the tight circle, would you want, again the tight circle for the W. Tongue tip up for the N and T. To see, lips pull wide for the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’. Tongue tip through the teeth for the, and the bottom lip up to make the F, flower, spelled with a W but it is the ‘ow’ as in ‘now’ diphthong, show, unofficially making the W, between the diphthong and the schwa. Show, with the ‘oh’ as in ‘no’ diphthong.
And from the angle. Lips form the tight circle for the W. When, the ‘eh’ as in ‘bed’, tongue tip up for the N. Would, again, the lips almost closed. You want, very tight circle. To see, corners pull wide for the ‘ee’ as in ‘she’. The, tongue tip through the teeth and the bottom lip up for the F. Flow-. Again, no W in the IPA, but gliding through the W between the ‘ow’ as in ‘now’ and the schwa. Show, spelled with a W, but here it is the ‘oh’ as in ‘no’ diphthong. You can see the lips didn’t make quite the tight circle that they do with the W. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
The ‘oy’ as in ‘toy’ diphthong. The first vowel of this diphthong is the ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ vowel. However, in the diphthong, the lips will round more than when the ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ is simply a vowel in American English. Law, oy. Did you see how the lips shifted into a tighter position? Law, oy. The tongue position, however, is the ‘aw’ as in ‘law’ tongue position. It is slightly raised and shifted a bit back, o, o, so the tip of the tongue is not touching anything. The second sound is the ‘ih’ as in ‘sit’ vowel. To make this sound, the tongue will come forward and the tip will touch lightly behind the bottom front teeth. The mid part of the tongue will raise towards the roof of the mouth, oy, oy. And you can see the corners of the lips will pull out of the circle, oy, oy, and back.
Here are the two sounds of this diphthong. You can see in the first sound that the lips are rounded, and in the second sound that the corners of the lips pull back slightly. Here the two sounds are in profile with parts of the mouth drawn in. In the first sound the tongue is pulled back, in the second sound, the front part of the tongue raises towards the roof of the mouth while the tip of the tongue touches the bottom front teeth. The ‘oy’ as in ‘toy’ diphthong. Sample words: avoid, point, enjoyable.Sample sentence. The boy is annoying, but a loyal employee.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.
The Y consonant sound. To make this sound, the mid/front part of the tongue raises and presses against the roof of the mouth about here. The tip of the tongue comes down and lightly touches behind the bottom front teeth yy, yy, while the throat closes off to give the Y sound that yy, yy quality. Here’s a photo of the Y consonant sound on the right compared with the mouth at rest. And here parts of the mouth are drawn in. The soft palate is raised on this sound. The tongue stretches towards the roof of the mouth.
Here it is not shown touching the roof of the mouth because there is a passage down the middle of the tongue that does not touch the roof of the mouth. This is where the sound travels. The sides of the top of the tongue do press against the roof of the mouth. Sample words: yeah, yard, yield, yogurt. Sample sentence: Did you buy the yellow kayak yesterday? 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.
Did, the tongue tip up and the teeth closed for the D. And now the tongue goes straight into the Y here so the tongue is pressed against the roof of the mouth, ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’ sound, did you. Lips together for the B, buy, with the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. The, tongue through the teeth. Yellow, mid-front part of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth. Tongue through the teeth for the L. Kayak, now it’s spelled with a Y but it’s actually the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong so the tongue doesn’t raise quite high enough to press the roof of the mouth. Yesterday, teeth together to make the S, the R consonant sound, day.
Did. Tongue tip up to the roof of the mouth and the teeth closed for the D sound. You, now here the tongue is pressing the roof of the mouth and the lips are making the ‘oo’ as in ‘boo’. Lips together for the B, buy, with the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong. The, tongue tip through the teeth Yellow, tongue front-mid pressing against the roof of the mouth and the tongue tip through for the L. Kayak, spelled with a Y but it is the ‘ai’ as in ‘buy’ diphthong, -yak and the tongue raises for the Y in yesterday. Lips form the R shape, yester-day. Tongue tip up for the D and back down for the ‘ay’ as in ‘say’ diphthong. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
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!
>> Pinkberry! This is a delicious frozen yogurt–uh–place that’s not so far from the house. Sorry Janae.
>> 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?
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?
>> 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.