“Ash” Sound (Æ) in American English: Æ Tensing
This is it! I’ve finally found out everything about the “ash” sound in American English – and if you’ve also been wondering about the following problem: Why is it that in some American English words the letter ‘A’ gets pronounced as [eə] despite the phonetic transcription describing it as [æ]? … then you should definitely read the rest of this article and watch the video above! Let’s take a very simple word such as “frank”, for example. Any dictionary will tell you it’s pronounced as /fræŋk/ while in reality it’s to be pronounced as [freənk] – it’s almost as if the actual word is “frenk” instead of “frank”. So, over the time I’d noticed that the “ash” sound [æ] is often pronounced as [eə] in American English, but I couldn’t figure out WHEN it’s happening – I mean, are the any RULES? I recorded the first video about it (watch it HERE) a year and a half ago – the conclusion was that you just have to learn which words are subject to the letter ‘A’ sound transformation. Another video followed a year later and the advice was – just gravitate toward the [eə] sound whenever possible and you won’t get it wrong! (It’s not actually such a bad piece of advice, by the way.) Then I recorded a video as a response to Greg’s comment where the main focus is on the word “family” – I pronounce it as [feəmli] whereas Greg sticks with [fæmli]. And then, when all hope was lost, I received a comment with a Wikipedia article link in – and it actually answers every question I’ve been having about the American “ash” sound ❗ HERE’s the Wiki article about Æ tensing – yes, turns out the technical term for this pronunciation transformation I’d been noticing is Æ tensing, and it also turns out there are definite rules to follow. To put it simply, if the “ash” sound is followed by the following sounds: R, M and N, the letter ‘A’ is pronounced as [eə] in General American pronunciation – and it’s called Æ tensing. Moreover, I found out in the same article that if you were to tense the “ash” sound at all times, it wouldn’t be so wrong either, because there are American accents – such as Chicago – were it’s tensed in all words. Turns out, I wasn’t so wrong advising you to do so in the second video! But if you’re going to argue that if you were to do that, it wouldn’t be pure General American pronunciation, let me tell you this: if we, foreigners, manage to speak fluent English with an accent that sounds even 80% American, it doesn’t really matter whether it would be perceived as the General American, Boston or Chicago accent. I’ve spoken about it previously – please check out this video HERE – but of course, it’s nice to finally be aware of the rules determining when the American “ash” sound becomes tense and try to get it right just like the General American. Is it not? And thanks so much for the eye-opening comment, Titi Cheers, Robby
13 Aug 2014
American “Ash” (æ) Sound Video #3: My Video Response to Greg’s Comment
Initially I published a video on the American “ash” sound where I shared my observations in relation to how the letter ‘A’ is pronounced in certain words in American English. Then, more than a year later, I published a follow-up on the original video where I’m talking about my latest revelations in connection with the same phenomenon – namely, certain words are transcribed as having the traditional (æ) sound in them while in reality the letter ‘A’ is pronounced more like (eh) in words such as “and”, “hamburger”, “animal” and a bunch of others. The video above is a video response to a comment I received on the latest video where Greg points out a few things regarding the “ash” sound and how it’s pronounced in those words I’m bringing up as examples: All ‘a’ sounds are exactly how you were pronouncing them originally, as an [ah] sound as in ‘can’, ‘bat’, ‘hand’, ‘man’, and ‘hamper’, unless you’re talking fast and relaxed then ‘can’ does become more like [kihn], not [kehn]. The [eh] sound for ‘a’ is more of a New England/Boston accent thing, which is nothing like the General American accent. As for ‘family’: It IS [FAH-mih-lee], btw, or [fahm-lee]. I’ve never heard [fehm-lee], except with people in Massachusetts or Chicago, which is actually a Midwestern accent (north-central U.S.). In the Midwestern accent you do hear the [eh] sound in ‘a’ words. They do say [kehn] for ‘can’, actually more than you would hear in the New England area (north-eastern U.S.). So, if you’d like to hear my take on Greg’s comment, please watch the video above and you’ll find out the following: Why I like to exaggerate the American English “ash” sound at times Why I’m actually perceiving the Midwestern accent as the closest real-life representation of the General American Pronunciation And a whole lot more! Cheers, Robby
21 Jul 2014
American English Pronunciation: “What’s The Matter With You”?
Hi guys! That’s me – Robby from AccentAdventure.com – and this time around we’re going to learn how to pronounce the following American phrase properly: WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU? The main focus here is on the sound created by the double TT in the middle of the word “matter” – it’s the so called FLAP T sound – and it’s actually much closer to the letter D than T! That’s the reason why I’ve transcribed the flap T sound with the letter D or with a two letter combination TD in my American Pronunciation learning program Accent Genie, and as you can see in the screenshot below – the FLAP T sound in the word “fitting” is transcribed with the two letter combination TD (just because in this case it’s not as close to D as in the word “matter”). But anyway – going back to today’s phrase WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH YOU? – it basically becomes “What’s the maDer with you?” because Americans transform the double TT into a sound which is much closer to D (with a little hint of “R” in it probably). If you want to get it just right, however, please watch the video above where I’m looking at this phrase in depth and I’m also giving you a few useful tips on how to get the FLAP T sound just right. Other things that you have to watch out for when practicing this phrase are the W sound in the word WHAT’S and you also have to make sure to put stress on the first syllable of the word “matter”. So this is how you pronounce this phrase when speaking with American accent (the underlined syllable indicates the stressed syllable): Uat’s the maDer with you? Is it all a bit too confusing? Well, watch the video above and keep practicing till you get it right – practice is what makes one perfect, don’t you ever forget that! And of course, if you’re REALLY serious about your American accent and English pronunciation improvement in general, you definitely want to check out the Accent Genie program which is all about learning the American pronunciation in a fast and effective manner. Chat soon, Robby
22 Sep 2014
How Native English Speakers ACTUALLY Pronounce the TH Sound!
Here’s how to practice your American Pronunciation – imagine that you take some water in your mouth, then start watching my video and repeat every sentence after me! Here’s the sounds you have to FOCUS on: R sound, flap T sound, W sound, ‘Ash’ sound, dark L sound – the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it! Video Transcript Below: Hi guys, it’s Robby here from AccentAdventure.com where we learn to sound like American English speakers, right? But in case you don’t really aspire to sound like an American English speaker, if your goal is just to improve your pronunciation enough to sound decent while communicating with other people in English, you still may want to check out the blog, AccentAdventure.com right here! Just click on this link and it’s going to take you to my blog where you’ll find dozens upon dozens of very relevant articles and videos and it’s all about pronunciation improvement. It’s not necessarily how to sound like a British English speaker or an American English speaker but it’s going to improve your accent big time, even if you don’t aspire to sound like a person coming from a specific geographic area. But anyway, the whole thing it’s geared more towards the American pronunciation and that’s what I’m probably more passionate about myself personally and that’s the road I’m taking anyway. And in today’s video we’re going to look at much the dreaded English sound, TH, right? TH sound which is the “the”, the voiced version of it, right? TH like in the word “the,” right? “The” and the unvoiced version TH like in the word “thumb”, all right? Biggest Mistake Made by Foreigners – OVERDOING the TH Sound! And this is what a lot of foreigners get wrong when they’re trying to use this sound or to pronounce this sound when they speak, right? They try to get it like in a book, right? They tell you that you have to pronounce it this way – you have to place your tongue between your teeth like that. This and these, that and those, this is how the TH goes, right? There’s a saying like that. And you guys are probably trying to get it just like in the book when you speak and that’s when you start running into an awful lot of problems. And the reason being, in real life I’ve yet to meet a native English speaker who pronounces these words like that: this and these. Nobody does that. Nobody ❗ Because in reality the TH voiced sound TH becomes more like D. It’s something like the D sound, right? It’s just that it’s not really a stressed D. Nobody really says “Dis”, right? Although there are certain native English speakers who say that, who speak that way when they come from specific geographical areas. But anyway, that’s beyond our discussion today. Don’t Place Your Tongue BETWEEN the Teeth – It’s WRONG! Suffice it to say that, you just have to place the tip of your tongue behind your teeth. TH. TH. Like that. TH. This. This. This. It’s this. It’s this. Nobody really says “it’s this.” People say “it’s this”. It’s the 100th video on my YouTube channel. It’s the 100th video. Nobody really says “it’s the 100th video.” It’s the 100th. And speaking of the unvoiced version, the TH, the TH sound as in the word thumb, it becomes T. It’s more like T. 100th. For the 100th time. It’s my thumb. Thumb, right? Obviously it’s not the very same as T. It’s not my tumb. It’s thumb. It’s something between the thumb and tumb, right? Thumb. Thumb. Thumb. Thumb. But it’s more closer to the T sound, right? So you’ve got to be imagining that you’re actually pronouncing the word tumb instead of thumb to get it right. And why I said that a lot of foreigners run into problems when they’re trying to nail this sound and make it sound textbook like? The reason being, they get it completely wrong. They go overboard, okay? And in relation to this I want you to check out this particular article called “Don’t overdo your English pronunciation” – click right here. It’s going to take you to my blog where you’re going to read the article, right? And it’s all about trying to get the pronunciation a 100% correctly and that that’s when you’re starting developing these issues. A Lot of Eastern Europeans Get the TH Sound Completely Wrong – Because They’re Overdoing It! And the here’s the typical example. A lot of Eastern Europeans such as Latvians which is what I represent, I’m a Latvian myself and Russians most notably probably pronounce the voiced TH sound as Z. Zis is. Instead of saying simply this is, right? It’d be way easier for those folks just to say “dis is”, right? They would just have to imagine that the word this is spelled the following way D-I-S, right? Dis is. But they’re obviously being taught wrong by their teachers at school, right? So teachers probably demanded that they get the sound a 100% correctly, just like it says in the textbook by their tongues placed between their teeth. This is. This. And obviously a lot of those people don’t get it. They just can’t for some reason or another and then eventually they end up with saying “zis is”. Zis is. Because when you’re placing your tongue – I was going to say your thumb – your tongue between your teeth and then when you pull it back ever so slightly it becomes Z. Z. Z. So a lot of those Russians or Latvians or Ukrainians, you name it, you pick any Eastern European country you want, a lot of them say “zis”. Instead of just saying “dis” which is way easier, right? So that’s what I warmly suggest you do guys if you’re one of those people who can’t get it right, who can’t say “this” between your tongue placed between your teeth, you’ve got to imagine that you’re actually saying the letter D or T in case it’s the unvoiced TH sound, right? And just like I said actually no real native English speaker speaks like that in real life. Nobody says “this is”. Especially in fast speech people say “dis is”. “Dis”. So the TH actually does become more like “dis” and not so much as “this”. All right? How to Pronounce the TH Sound in “Close The Door” And going back to the question which is the reason why I’m actually creating this video in the first place, one of my subscribers asks me a question if I can make a video on how pronounce the TH sound after “S” like “close the door”. Close the door. Well, it’s pretty much the same. You’ve got to imagine that TH is actually D. So instead of saying “close THe door” which is very confusing if you’re trying to get it fast, you really can’t. It’s very difficult to say “close THe door” Close THe door, right? So forget about placing your tongue between your teeth, just say “Close de door”. Close de door. And it’s going to be just fine. That’s how native English speakers speak all over the world. How to Pronounce the TH Sound in “Clothes” And the other question he asks is how to pronounce S after the TH sound, like “clothes”, right? C-L-O-T-H-E-S. Nobody really says “clothes”. It’s totally wrong. And actually that’s what the dictionary tells you to – that’s how the dictionary tells you to pronounce this word. The phonetic transcription actually has included the symbol for the voiced TH sound. So you’d be thinking that you’ve got to be pronouncing the “THe” thus making the pronunciation as “cloTHes”, right? But that’s wrong. People just say “close”. It’s as if you’re saying “close the door”, right? So again, just forget about the TH and imagine you’re just saying “close”. Put the clothes on and close the door, right? It’s pretty much the same pronunciation my friends. In this relation I want you to read the following article “The importance of speaking out loud when learning new English vocabulary words”. Click on it. Read it. And it’s the other blog that I have EnglishHarmony.com. And well, in this case I can’t actually link to this article straight from this video because I’m only allowed by YouTube to link to my Accent Adventure blog. So you’re going have to enter this URL in the URL bar above in your Internet browser. But anyway, it’s worth reading. And it’s all about the importance of learning new vocabulary by speaking it out loud. And obviously you can’t just rely on the dictionary, phonetic descriptions and whatnot because they’re oftentimes wrong. You’ve got to actually listen how words are pronounced in real life by real people, right? And there’s no better way of getting that right than checking out the Accent Genie program which is a product I created myself! There’s hundreds upon hundreds of American English phrases and sentences which you will be repeating thus imprinting all those sound patterns into your brain and into your mouth, most importantly, which is going to enable you to speak like an American English speaker. And just like I said in the beginning of this video it’s not just about speaking like an American speaker, you’ve got to be just speaking very well. Your pronunciation is going to improve big time. All right my friends. I hope that this shed some light on how to pronounce the TH sound. And if you have any questions please publish them in the comment section below. Thanks for watching and bye-bye! Robby
15 Feb 2016
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How to Pronounce Contractions I’ll, You’ll, He’ll, She’ll, It’ll, We’ll, They’ll in American English
Video Transcript Below: Hello guys, hello boys and girls and welcome back to Robby’s Accent Adventure video blog, where we learn to speak like American English speakers. Yes! I’m trying to sound like American currently and I’m putting on my general American pronunciation and in case you’re wondering how that’s possible, how we can achieve the same kind of results, you definitely may want to check out the Accent Genie program. I was following the same principles outlined in the program and you’ll be repeating hundreds upon hundreds of sentences spoken out loud by a native English speaker and you’ll be repeating them and you’ll be focusing on the key sounds. What I’ve done with those videos is I’ve gotten rid of all the irrelevant stuff. And you’ll be only focusing on the sounds that will actually enable you of sound like an American English speaker, right? There are so many other courses out there but what they do is they analyze the whole speech and you’re focusing on too many details at the same time. So it’s way too overwhelming. Anyway, let’s get down to today’s business which is contractions: I’ll, you’ll, he’ll, she’ll, it’ll, we’ll, they’ll. Why I’m Talking About It? One Of My YouTube Commentators Asked Me To! And the reason why I’m going to be talking about them is I was asked by one of my YouTube commentators to make a video about them and specifically how to pronounce them in fast and slow speech. And he asks me that because there’s only one – according to him – there’s only one video on YouTube and that person isn’t even from an English country and doesn’t sound like a native English speaker. And I really appreciate your comment because by reading that you would think that you think I sound like a native English speaker which is a great thing. Thanks for saying that and anyway, I’m not a native English speaker. My native background is Latvian. I come from Latvia and I’ve been living in an English speaking country for 14 years now, right? Not 40, 14. But it’s not the United States, it’s Ireland. But anyway, I’ve always taken such a great interest in everything that’s got to do with the United States that a few years ago I decided to teach myself how to sound like an American English speaker. And I’d like to think that I have approached that level where one would hear that I sound like a native American English speaker, right? It’s the Dark ‘L’ That You’ve Gotta Be Focused On Here! Anyway, sounds I’ll, you’ll, he’ll, she’ll, it’ll, we’ll, they’ll is a typical dark “l” sound. And actually it happens so that a few years ago I recorded a video about the two different “l” sounds. The light “l” and the dark “l”, right? So you may want to check out the video here, in that you’ll find out everything there is to know about the dark “l”. But anyway, nonetheless I’m going to read out these following sentences that I wrote down there in order to show you how to pronounce these sounds in these specific contractions, right? I’ll Do It So I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Or slowly, I’ll do it. Well, to be honest with you, I don’t really see the big difference, I’ll do it or I’ll do it. One way or another the “l” sound is the dark “l”. L. I’ll do it. I’ll do it, you know. It’s not I’ll do it. It’s “l”. It’s a bit more throatier than the light “l” sound, right? You’ll See for Yourself You’ll see for yourself. You’ll see. You’ll see for yourself. You’ll see. You’ll. You’ll. You’ll. It’s a bit throaty. So you definitely refer back to that video made a few years ago. So that’s the way you pronounce these “l” sounds in these contractions. You’ll. You’ll see for yourself. So you’ll. Then you kind of swallow the sound. You’ll. Almost like that, right? You’ll see for yourself. And as a matter of fact, this “l” sound is very characteristic to American English speakers, so you definitely may want to get it right. You definitely may want to nail it. You may get the other sounds so-so but once you get the “l” sound which gives you the throaty sound, that’ll definitely make you sound like an American English speaker. He’ll Come Around, Don’t Worry! He’ll come around, don’t worry! He’ll come around, don’t worry! He’ll come around. So again, it’s the typical dark “l” sound. He’ll. It’s almost like the llll. He’ll. Obviously I’m exaggerating but it’s just to make the point, right? He’ll. He’ll come around. She’ll Be Back for More She’ll be back for more. She’ll. She’ll be back for more. She’ll be back for more. She’ll be back for more. She’ll be back for more. She’ll. Again, the same old dark “l” sound. One Way or Another It’ll Happen! One way or another it’ll happen! One way or another it’ll happen! What’s curious about this particular contraction “it’ll” is that the “t” sound becomes the flat “t”. It’s something between “t” “d” and a little bit of “r” as well. It’ll. It’ll. It’ll happen. It’s not it’ll happen. It’ll. But it’s it’ll happen. It’ll. It’ll. Right? So you have to imagine that you’re pronouncing both sounds “t” and “d” at the same time. It’ll. And a little bit of ”r”. That’s what helps me to get the sound right. Okay? So it’ll happen. We’ll Figure It Out! We’ll figure it out. Again, the same dark “l” sound. We’ll figure it out. They’ll Regret It They’ll regret it. They’ll. They’ll regret it. They’ll regret it. Dark “l” sounds all along, nothing really changes, so definitely want to get it throaty more than anything. Think about the throaty sound and that’s what’s going to help you to get this right. So I’m hoping that I created something useful, that you’ll learn something from this video and you definitely may want to go back where I am reading out these sentences and repeat after me to get the sound right. All right? And you won’t regret it my friends, right? Thanks for watching this video. Obviously, if you have any questions of any nature, well preferably something that’s got to do with the American pronunciation, please post them in the comment section below. Chat to you soon and bye-bye! Robby
8 Feb 2016