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Proper English Pronunciation: Facts and Secrets

Pronunciation means the way a word or a language is usually spoken and the manner in which someone utters a word. In English, words are uttered depending on many factors. One factor particularly is the area where one grew up. Proper English pronunciation is fairly important; it is actually the first and biggest thing people will notice. There are many keys on how to pronounce proper English. However, it is much advisable to choose one pronunciation model (American or British), consult dictionaries for proper pronunciation, listen to good English speakers, always pay attention to pronunciation, and practice constantly.

Can you pronounce correctly and properly the words though, through, plough, dough, or cough? How about corpse, corps, worse, horse, holes, red, read, and naive? I bet you have not. Okay, again, but loudly and clearly please.

Well, however have you spoken those words, the fact is that you know their pronunciation--at least--let alone the proper and correct way.

Pronunciation and the English language

Pronunciation means the way a word or a language is usually spoken and the manner in which someone utters a word. In other words, it is how to make or produce the sound of a word. In any language, however, a word can be spoken or articulated in so many different ways. That is a fact. In English, words are uttered depending on many factors. One factor particularly is the area where one grew up. Asians, for example, speak English differently than British. Africans and French, when talking in English, sound distinctively. The Australians are also an example. And you have heard the Italians and Russians speak English, right? Even the pioneering Americans and British have different English accents.

To date, over 500 million people worldwide know and use English. In their own respective ways, they are able to speak English. But what is the proper way to pronounce an English word or speak English? How will we know if the manner in which words are spoken is proper and correct? If a word can be uttered in a lot of ways, how much more if we speak several words or sentences?

Proper English pronunciation is fairly important; it is actually the first and biggest thing people will notice. If you can speak English, then it is good. If you can converse very well in English, hoorah, it is much better. But do you know what is best? It is best when you can pronounce English correctly and properly.

Facts and secrets

So, how to pronounce properly? The following are the facts and secrets that you should know.

1. English is not "phonetic". Therefore, we do not always say a word the same way that we spell it.

2. English is considered a stressed language, while many other languages are considered syllabic.

3. English pronunciation focuses on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, non-stressed, words. Word stress is like a golden key to speaking and understanding English. (Note: one word, one stress; the stress is always on a vowel).

4. Vowels are letters that are pronounced by forcing air over your vocal cords through your mouth. It is the shape of your mouth that decides which vowel sound comes out.

5. Consonant sounds are produced by completely or partially stopping the breath. Consonant sounds can be voiceless (no vibration of the vocal cords) or voiced (vibration of the vocal cords) and often come in sound pairs.

6. Some words can have the same spelling but different pronunciation.

7. Some words have different spelling but the same pronunciation.

8. Pronunciation differences are divided into: (1) accent and (2) pronunciation of individual words in the lexicon (i.e., phoneme distribution).

9. Do not focus on pronouncing each word. Focus on the stressed words in each sentence.

Conclusions

There are many keys on how to pronounce proper English. However, it is much advisable to choose one pronunciation model (American or British), consult dictionaries for proper pronunciation, listen to good English speakers, always pay attention to pronunciation, and practice constantly.

Now, if you want to know where you stand or to practice on how to pronounce, try the poem of Dr. Gerald Nolst Trenite (1870-1946), a Dutch observer of English. Read it aloud, but mind you, it is quite hard.

English Is Tough Stuff

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation's OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation -- think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won't it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough --
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Article Tags: Proper English, English Pronunciation, Speak English, Vocal Cords

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


As a Copy Editor and blogger, Rodrigo Gante is inclined to write articles in different niches, particularly in Media and Publication.



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