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Natural Speed
American English Phrase Pronunciation


by Rick Mace




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Rick Mace



Copyright © 1995 & 2016 by Rick Mace



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This book is dedicated to the many Japanese students of English
who wish to improve their ability to understand English when it is naturally spoken.






Copyright © 1995 & 2016 by Rick Mace

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information E-mail
Rick Mace - fgmace@prismagems.com

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Copyright © 1995 & 2016 by Rick Mace










Copyright © 1995 & 2016 by Rick Mace









Copyright © 1995 & 2016 by Rick Mace










Copyright © 1995 & 2016 by Rick Mace


You see on this page the first example of the AEIOU First Letter Rule that I mention in the Appendix at the back of the book. What is it is pronounced Wha-di-zit. Notice the t changed to d and the s changed to z.

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Phrases





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Practice Review



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Practice Review



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Pronunciation Table



Pronunciation



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Pronunciation



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Pronunciation




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Appendix




The AEIOU first letter rule

The basic rule for sound mixing or blending is that native speakers breath through words that begin with a vowel (AEIOU) sound. He's on it. therefore is pronounced He-zo-nit (notice that the s in He's changed to a z sound.

With American English the final t of a word with a vowel sound beginning word following it changes to a soft d sound. but I becomes bu-di. Now, again with American English the final nt of a word with a vowel sound beginning word following it changes to a hard d sound. went in becomes wen-din.

Another part of the AEIOU first letter rule is that the word and is pronounced n which is en. So, red and white equals re-den-white (notice that the t in red changed to the soft d sound too.

Finally with the AEIOU first letter rule we have a silent h in he, his, her, and him, so, Where is he going? is pronounced whe-ri-ze going. Notice here that the s in is changed to the z sound.


And now here are nine more interesting things:



1 Look!
'lu(k')
With this notation; (t'), (k'), (d'), etc., I'm representing what I call the "clipped consonant" sounds: the sound spoken as the ending consonant sound of a consonant ending syllable. One moves their mouth into the position they would move it in order to fully sound the consonant, but then, the tongue blocks off any further release of air so that the fully sounded consonant is not heard; as in this case with look. So, there is actually no sound. However, it is misleading to say that there is "no sound" because if you don't move your mouth into the position necessary to actually make, in this case, the full /k/ sound, then your "look" will sound like "loo" and everybody will "loo" at you like you are stupid.

2 What is it?
hwə-'di-zi(t')
Throughout this book you will find that I've illustrated the pronunciation of phrases as the word-group-sounds they are when they're spoken at natural speed. This then, is the first example of that.
The /t/ in what, in combination with the vowel sound of the /i/ in is, produces the /di/ sound. And this is what I call a soft (flapped) d sound (written in this book as an italicized /d/). It's made by not quite touching the roof of the mouth with the tongue when speaking it. If you try to produce this soft sound by itself you cannot. That is to say; you cannot produce it by itself without touching the roof of your mouth with your tongue; that touching of the roof of the mouth is what turns it into a hard /d/ sound. To produce the soft d, you will always have a preceding sound and, usually, a preceding vowel sound. So, following a vowel sound and quickly spoken, it is quite easily produced, and it is what you so often hear in natural speech. reading tip: whenever you come across a /t/ ending word and the /t/ has a vowel, a vowel sound, or an r in front of it and the next word begins with a vowel sound, that /t/ will always, in American English, be pronounced as a soft /d/: Read these in bold which follow as the "flapped 'd' (na da la da tha da bou dit) ..." not a lot a thought about it. One and once don't count as "the next word begins with a vowel sound" as "one" and "once" begin with the vowel /o/ but the sound is of the consonant /w/)

You will find as you listen to the MP3's, however, that when I slowly enunciate the pronunciation of illustrated phonetic parts, that I am forced, for the above mentioned reason of not being able to produce a soft /d/ independent of other sounds, to enunciate the /di/ sound and many other /d/ combinations, as a hard, tongue-touching d. Please, then, as you listen to the mp3's, be aware of the difference between the hard /d/, and the soft /d/ and you will easily master the pronunciation of both. Learning this one point and being able to hear and speak the soft as well as the hard d sounds in their appropriate places will have a tremendous impact on both your ability to understand spoken English and on your ability to speak smoothly yourself.

Soft d examples:

but I don't -- today -- had an -- You don't -- said I -- video -- What are -- started this -- A lot of -- got to -- harder -- says it all -- go to -- thought he -- to do -- said it -- heading -- what I -- everybody -- go to our -- go to my -- Look at her -- Look at our -- go together -- wanted to -- but he -- reading a -- That'll -- But I'll -- getting ready to -- needed.


3 Don't you hear it?
'dōn-chü-'hir-i(t')
It is quite usual to pronounce "don't you" as if it were "don'chew." Likewise with other "...t-y..." combinations: but you, but your, the t-y is pronounced as though it were ch. But usually there are exceptions to rules, and but usually is one of them. The first u in usually, while it is pronounced identically to the word you, is stressed, and therefore must be enunciated as u. If, in the above examples of; don't you, but you, but your --- the you, or your, is stressed for emphasis; it will then not be combined with the t sound to form /ch/, but will remain spoken as you or your. The /t /which precedes it will then, likewise, be fully heard. But YOUR, But YOU etc,

4 I'm listening, but I don't hear anything!
īm-'li-sə-niŋ-bə-dī-dōn-'hir-e-nē-thiŋ
Here again is a t ending word combining with, in this case, i , to form another soft d sound. Again, it is not possible to pronounce this /di/ sound, as a soft d, unless it is preceded by a soft sound.
Let me add a bit here about this "flapped" d or t, as it is called. Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary's definition of flap is: "a consonant (as the sound d in ladder and t in latter) characterized by a single rapid contact of the tongue or lower lip against another point in the mouth" However, in the case of the soft or flapped d, as in ladder, the tongue actually does not touch the roof of the mouth at all. In order to produce this flap you must be exhaling and if you, while exhaling, touch the roof of your mouth with your tongue in "a single rapid contact of the tongue," then, in that moment of so touching, you have broken the flow of air and consequently produced what I've called the "hard" d sound and not a flap at all. The definition might better read: a consonant (as the sound d in ladder and t in latter) characterized by a single rapid attempted contact of the tongue or lower lip against another point in the mouth which is barely prevented by the force of a continuous exhaling of air."

5 I'm listening, but I don't hear anything!
īm-'li-sə-niŋ-bə-dī-dōn-'hir-e-nē-thiŋ
I have called this book Natural Speed American English Phrase Pronunciation and this seems a good place to explain the name a little more carefully. Of course, any native speaker could rightly claim that he or she is speaking at a natural speed regardless of whether he or she is speaking quickly; enunciating carefully, deliberately, and slowly; or doing something in between those two. And so, as in this case with don't hear, one might "naturally" enunciate the two words separately and clearly, in which case my illustrated pronunciation is missing the /t/. So, perhaps a better name for this book would be Natural High Speed American English Phrase Pronunciation. After all, my intention is to provide the student of English with a tool for improving his or her ability to understand the prevalent high speed variety of naturally spoken English by showing that one can learn to speak that way oneself.

6 Look! Look at the cat.
'lu(k')-lu-kə(t')-thə-'ka(t')
The frequency -ə-t which at is pronounced as / -ə-t/, is so great, that / -ə-t/ is given the lead pronunciation position in the dictionary. It is also heard as the /et/ sound (as in yet) when it follows words ending in /n/ or/h/ (see 7 below). However, it is such a fleeting sound, that in many cases, it would be difficult for one to argue that one is hearing / -ə-/, more than, or less than, /e/.

7 It's barking at the cat.
i(t')s-'bär-kē- ne(t')-thə-'ka(t')
If the combination comes in the middle of a sentence, an at following a word ending in ing: barking at, looking at, leaving at, is usually pronounced as, /...ē-ne(t')/.

8 What's your favorite color?
'hwə-chər-fāv-re(t')-'kə-lər
You will find that What's your and What you're (on page 22), are given the same pronunciation. I've explained the /ch/, sound produced by the "...t-y..." combination in note #1. While that is basically the situation we have here, there is this added twist of the silent s in What's. The distinction as to which you have heard, What you're or What's your, will be made by the context in which either is spoken. What you're favorite color? does not make sense; nor does What's your going to do is sing.

9 What's your favorite color?
'hwə-chər-fāv-re(t')-'kə-lər
Even when favorite is spoken with three syllables, the middle one is not pronounced with the /vo/ sound. So for those who would prefer not to give up the middle syllable, remember not to pronounce it as /vo/. If you choose to keep it there, it is pronounced /v -ə-/.

Copyright © 1995 & 2016 by Rick Mace