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Saturday January 31st, 2009
English Pronunciation Podcast 21-
How to Pronounce Long Words of Three or More Syllables:
This podcast teaches you a method for accurately pronouncing long words with an American accent.

    

In today's podcast, we're going to practice pronouncing long words- words of three or more syllables.

The focus of today's lesson is:

  • to learn how to pronounce long words by using suffixes, word endings. 

** I strongly recommend that you listen to podcasts #18 and 20 if you haven't already, before using this one, because we're going to combine some of the knowledge of syllable stress and vowel reduction in order to come up with a method for learning how to pronounce long words.
Using our knowledge of syllable stress and vowel reduction, you'll be able to pronounce the word exactly like an American speaker would with clear accurate vowels and proper syllable stress.

Step by step method:

Step 1: look at the suffix to find the main stress

As we discussed in previous podcasts, suffixes (word endings) are signals They will tell you where the syllable stress of the word falls. Today we're going to look at the suffixes <cious> and< tious>.

According to the rules of syllable stress, when you have <tious> and <cious> the stress falls immediately before the suffix.

Step 2. Reduce the vowels of the suffix and other unstressed syllables

Vowel letters within the suffix will be reduced to the /ə / "the schwa"

<tious> and <cious> = / ʃəs /

Example: precocious


Step 1. Look at the suffix.
According to the rules of syllable stress, we stress the syllable immediately before <cious>

So we stress <co> /koʊ/

Step 2. Reduce vowel of the suffix and other unstressed syllables.
According to the rules of vowel reduction, we want to reduce the vowels of the syllable next to the stressed syllable. So in this case, the vowels in the suffix will be reduced.

cious =/ʃəs/

So far, we have /koʊʃəs/

We're still missing the first syllable <pre>

In English, you want to have an alternating rhythm of stressed ...unstressed or stressed... stresssed... long... short.. or short... long... .

We're going to apply that alternating rhythm to this word.
<pre> will be unstressed and reduced.

The end result is: precocious /prəkoʊʃəs/

Meaning of precocious: (adj) developing early, especially mentally.

Exercise: Listen and repeat. Pay careful attention to syllable stress and reduced vowels.

Precocious

Ten year old children who read the New York Times are precocious.

suffix:<tious>

Example: pretentious

Step 1. Look at the suffix.
According to the rules of syllable stress, we stress the syllable immediately before <tious>

So the main stressed syllable is <ten>

Step 2. According to the rules of vowel reduction, we want to reduce the vowels of the syllable next to the stressed syllable.

<tious> =/ʃəs/

Even though the suffiz has all those vowel letters , because it's an unstressed syllable, we reduce the vowels, making them shorter and use /ə /.

So far, we have /tnʃəs/

We still have to figure out how to pronounce the first syllable <pre>

In English, we want to have an alternating rhythm of stressed and unstressed syllables.

We're going to put an unstressed syllable before the stressed syllable< ten>

We reduce the vowel of <pre>; it's not going to be full, open /pri/ but /prə/ or /prI/

The end result is pretentious /prətɛnʃəs

Meaning of pretentious: (adj.) claiming to be excellent and high quality when not.

Exercise: Listen and repeat . Pay careful attention to syllable stress and reduced vowels.

pretentious /prətɛnʃəs/

She found the dinner conversation about opera a bit pretentious.

There are several other suffixes in English with reduced vowels.The more you become familiar with these suffixes, the easier it will be for you to figure out how to pronounce long words of three or more syllables. Combining your knowledge of suffixes, syllable stress and vowel reduction is the key for pronuncing long words in English.

If you can remember the syllable stress of long words through memory like it's music or rhythm, just feeling it, that's good too. At the same time, it's also good to have a method for determining syllable stress and pronunciation of long words. The more tools you have, the better!

The Importance of Training Tools

It's important to have good training tools to practice your pronunciation.
That's why I recommend :  Best Accent Training mp3s!
Put it on your mp3 player and practice wherever you want to!

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:  contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!

"Excellent!
After practicing with Best Accent Training daily,
I can say that my English communication has improved 100%. "

- Domingo Ponce Rodriguez- - Marketing Manager USA (Spain)

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