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English Pronunciation Pod 73

Saturday Nov 27 2010
Syllable Stress in Compound Nouns-
How to pronounce words like "laptop" and "facebook" correctly :
Communicate more clearly by learning the rule for pronouncing "compound nouns" of English.


In this week's podcast, we're going to learn how to pronounce an important type of word in English-compound nouns.

In previous podcasts, we learned the rules for determining which syllable of a word is stressed and today, we're going to focus
on a specific type of noun -compound nouns. There are many words in English which are a combination of two nouns.
For example, the word laptop is a combination of the word lap and top; the word flashlight is combination of flash and light.
These words follow a special rule for determining where their stress falls.

Learning the right stress for these words is another way to make to your English clear and easily understandable.
Another good reason to learn compund nouns is that the "high- tech", digital age that we live is constantly introducing new words
which are often compound nouns.

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • Learning the syllable stress rule for compund nouns.
  • Practicing these types of words in some key American words, phrases and idioms.

Review: How do we stress a syllable in English?

You may remember from podcast #14, that in English, there are two elements to stress.

Stress = longer vowel + rise in pitch :

For example, when I say the word "English" I stress the first syllable /ɪ ŋ/. Notice how the vowel in the first syllable is longer and the pitch,
the tone is slightly higher... English.

Also notice that volume, how loud the syllable is, is not so important. It's more important to make the vowel longer and the pitch higher.


Listen and repeat the following compound nouns, paying careful attention to syllable stress:

cell phone... laptop... bedroom...

Notice that these words all contain two nouns put together, but that the stress of these words falls on the first noun.

Rule: Stress the first noun of compound nouns.

This is true when the nouns are together, separated by a space or hyphenated.

Avoid These Common Mistakes:

A common mistake we often hear students make is to stress the second noun or to give equal stress to both nouns.
This can be confusing to your listener. Stress the first noun and your message will be much clearer and easy to understand .

Exericise: Listen and repeat the following compound nouns, paying careful attention to syllable stress:

website... photocopy ... laptop ... facebook .. .text message... podcast ... cell phone

And next here are some" non tech" related words that will never lose their importance:

credit card... restroom ...girlfriend... boyfriend... handbag ... birthday

Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following American expressions and idioms containing compound nouns.

1. You can find me on facebook.

2. Could you tell me where the restroom is?

3. Her boyfriend lives in a shoebox. (very small apartment)

4. She got a laptop for her birthday.

Learning to speak English with an American accent takes time and practice.

But the key to mastering this sound is slow repetitive practice on a daily basis. You have to repeat and repeat until you develop
what's known as muscle memory- the ability to do something automatically, without thinking.
Accent reduction is a lot like physical activities such as sports, dancing or playing an instrument. You have to first do it slowly and
correctly in order to do it quickly and correctly.

In other words, you need training!

The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:

If you want more practice exercises like the one in this podcast and are interested in learning all of the the sounds of English,
I recommend that you try my full English pronunciation course in mp3-Best Accent Training mp3s!

No matter what your first language is, Best Accent Training has the lessons you need
for speaking English clearly and correctly.

All the sounds of English in one course!

Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the sounds of English with step by step instructions and practice exercises.
You'll get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!

Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player and take with you wherever you go!

I specifically designed it for that purpose.

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

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Your support helps make English Pronunciation Pod free and accessible to anybody who wants to improve their accent!

Thank you and see you next time!


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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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