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.

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How to Pronounce Christmas — and Happy Holidays!

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