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English Pronunciation Pod 82

Saturday Mar 26th, 2011
English Pronunciation Podcast 76-
Silent letter- "b" as in "bomb" and "debt"

Learn how to identify the silent "b"and practice using it in key words and expressions.



In this week's podcast, we're going to learn some important words which contain silent "b'.
Just looking at them, we could easily get the wrong idea of how thay are pronounced, so it's important to
become aware of them and learn how to pronounce them correctly.

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • To learn how to recognize and pronounce words with silent "b"s.
  • Practice using these words in some key American expressions.

In your native language, the way a word is spelled is usually the way it is pronounced.
There is a direct relationship between spelling and pronunciation.

As you probably know, this is not always the case in English. This is partially due to the fact that English is a hybrid language,
a mixture of different languages. Another tricky aspect of Engish pronunciation is silent letters; this includes silent consonants.

The most common silent consonants are b, l, t and h. Today we will be focussing solely on 'b"

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following words:

comb... combine...

Notice how the <b>s in each of these words are pronounced differently. In "comb"<b> is silent .
In "combine" the b is pronounced.

When is <b> silent ?

So how do we know when the <b> is pronounced and when the <b>is silent? First we must remember that <b> is
usually not silent- it is usually pronounced. Silent <b> is more of the the exception.

Unfortunately, there are no consistent rules for determining when <b> is silent.

In general, you have to memorize the pronunciation, word by word, case by case.

*But there is a spelling pattern which usually indicates that the <b> is silent.

For example, the spelling pattern <mb> as in the words "comb", climb" and "bomb". In this spelling pattern, the<b> is usually silent.

Notice that I did not say /coʊmb/ or /bamb/. My lips close on <m> but I do not release the air into /b/.

Also notice that <mb> comes at the end of the word.

The <mb> Pattern with a Silent <b>:

Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following words with silent <b> -

climb... bomb... lamb...comb ...womb

But what about a word like "combine?" Why is the <b> pronounced in "combine" but not in comb.
"Combine" contains the spelling pattern<mb> and yet the <b> is not silent; it's pronounced. We pronounced the <b> in" combine"
because it is in the middle of the word.
The <b> of <mb> is usually silent when it's at the "end" of the word. It's important also to specify that they are at the end
of the root of the word.

Even if we add a suffix to the root like <ing> the< b> remains silent. We say /coʊmIŋ/ and not /coʊmbIŋ/ and we say
/bamIŋ/, not /bombIŋ/ .

This is in contrast to a word like "combine" or "number" where the < b> falls in the middle of the root of word.
There's no true suffix at the end of those words, so adding a suffix will not affect the silent <b>. The silent <b> will remain silent.

The <bt> Pattern with a Silent <b> :

Another spelling pattern with a silent <b> is <bt>. This spelling pattern <bt>, usually has a pronounced <b> but there are a few
important words in which the <b> is silent.

Exercise: Please listen and repeat: 

debt... doubt ... subtle ...

One of the best ways to memorize these words with strange pronunciations is to use them in sentences.

Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following sentences containing silent <l>.

She has a subtle sensof humor.

He's paying off his debt.

Practice is Key!

Today's lesson focussed a specific but important aspect of English pronunciation.
There are many other sounds and aspects of pronunciation which need to be mastered in order to
speak clearly and correctly.

Speaking English with an American accent is a gradual process but with the right amount of training
and practice you can do it!

The Right Training Tools for Better Pronunciation:

It's important to have right training tools in order to improve your accent.

That's why I recommend that you check it out my English Pronunciation Course in mp3 format- 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 and rhythm 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

Happy New Year!

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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