In this weeks podcast, we're going to begin to learn how Ameicans really speak English.
Have you ever noticed how Americans don't always pronounce the sounds of every word? It seems like certain sounds are being swallowed, shortened or even disappearing.
This is because native speakers use something known as reduced forms.
A reduced form is a word whose vowel has been shortened or reduced. Reduced forms are sometimes
called weak forms.
Using reduced forms is an important way to make the rhythm and intonation of your speech flow and
sound more like a native speaker's.
It will also make it easier for native speakers to understand you.
What's more, becoming aware of them will make it easier for you to understand what native speakers are saying.
The focus of this week's podcast is:
To learn what a reduced form is and when Americans use them.
Practice using a reduced form in some key phrases of American English
What is a reduced form?
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.
Reduced forms are unstressed words whose vowels quality changes. In some cases, a consonant may dissapear as well.
Exercise: Listen and repeat the following sentence:
He made her steak and eggs for breakfast.
This sentence contains three reduced forms. Before we identify the reduced forms, it's important to first identify which words are stressed:
"made", "steak", "eggs", "breakfast".
As we learned in previous podcasts, we usually stress verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs and wh questions words. These words are known as content words. We usally do not stress structure words such as prepositions, pronouns,
articles and conjunctions.
Notice how the structure words in this sentence are not stressed.
Notice how their pronunciation is reduced; the vowel becomes shorter. For example, I said /steIkənɛgz/ ...not: /steIkaendɛgz/
I pronounced the word "and" as /ən/. This is an example of a reduced form.
*The vowel /ae/ in "and" is reduced to /ə / or /I/. Either reduction is correct.
In addition, the consonant /d/ disappears.
When do we use reduced forms?
So why did we reduce "and" in this sentence? It all relates to sentence stress. We reduce the vowel in this word because the word in this sentence is unstressed.
Just as we reduce unstressed syllables of words, we also reduce unstressed structure words of sentences.
Now let's identify the other reduced forms in this sentence.
The preposition "for" is pronounced /f ɚ/. /ɔɚ/ is reduced to /ɚ/.
The pronoun "her" is pronounced /ɚ/. The /h/ in the pronoun "her" disappears. This is because the word "her" fell on an unstressed syllable in the sentence.
There are approximately thirteen reduced forms in English.Today's lesson will focus on /ən/. "and" reduced to /ən/.
For instruction and practice on all the reduced forms of English,be sure to try my English pronunciation course in mp3, Best Accent Training, which now has an extensive, special section on reduced forms.
Let's put this reduced form /ən/ into context- into some phrases of English.
Exercise: Please listen and repeat the following phrases and sentences containing the reduced form /en/.
pen and paper... You'll need pen and paper.
milk and sugar. .. A coffee with milk and sugar please.
stocks and bonds... He deals in stocks and bonds.
black and white... The situation is not black and white. (situation is complicated, not clear)
Practice is Key!
Today's lesson focussed on one reduced form. "and" reduced to /ən/.
There are many other reduced forms in English 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.
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, reduced forms 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.