Author: Ela Britchkow, Speech and Language Pathologist, Accent Reduction Specialist
Am I a romantic? I've seen "Weathering Heights" ten times. I'm a romantic.
Many Indian Americans watch American movies with English subtitles. One explanation is, Indians pronounce each word separately with a space between each word. Americans link the words together. As a result the sound of the words is different and poses a challenge to Indian speakers. This is the rule:
When a word ends with a consonant and the next word starts with a vowel, we link the two words together so they sound like one word. Instead of saying: “good - evening”, we say: “goodevening”. Good ends with the consonant /d/ and evening starts with the vowel /e/ so they are linked together.
Here’s another rule: When a word ends with a vowel that calls for the lips to be round, like an /o / and the next word starts with a vowel the two words are linked with a /w/. For example: “two o’clock” will be pronounced “twowoclock” (toowoclaak). When a word ends with a vowel where the mouth shape is wide like for the “ee” sound and the next word starts with a vowel, then we link the two vowels with a “y” sound. For example: “he is” is pronounced as “heyis”; “the end” is pronounced as “theeyend” My software program has devoted an entire lesson to this with many practice phrases and sentences.
Another speech difference is the deletion of the /h/ sound. American speakers often eliminate the /h/ sound at the beginning of words. These/h/ words include; he, his, her, hers and have. Reducing the /h/ sound in a word affects how the words are linked together in the message. Is he sounds like iz’e; Is her sounds like iz’er; Didn’t he sounds like didn’e.
Linking Voiceless Endings with the word You. When you use a negative contraction with the word “you”, the words blend together with the consonant sound and produce the sound: “tch”. The word “you” is unimportant, so the vowel is weakened. Don’t you sounds like don’chew ;didn’t you sounds like didn’chew; shouldn’t you sounds like shouldn’chew.
When a verb form and You is reduced in conversation, the linking sound becomes a “dj” sound. Did you sounds like didjou; should you sounds like shouldjou; would you sounds like wouldjou
These are only a few examples of how Americans speak in conversational speech.
Other Examples of sound contractions linking sounds:
“What can I get you?” becomes “Wha can I getchya?”
Pronouncing English like an American will allow you both to be better understood and increase your understanding of American speech.
Are you repeatedly asked, “What?” or “Can you say that again?”
By Ela Britchkow, Speech and Language Pathologist
©2017 Ela Britchkow