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Lesson Transcript

Chihiro: Learn English Pronunciation. Here, we’ll give you some insight into basic English pronunciation.
Ryan: Hi everyone, I'm Ryan and we’re going to decipher why pronunciation is so troublesome for some of you by picking it apart.
Chihiro: Now, remember how we mentioned that since English is spoken among a variety of people, both as a first language and a second or even third language, people would naturally have different accents.
Ryan: Right, but the accents that are considered standard are, the Received Pronunciation, aka British English, General American which would be English spoken in the States and Canada,and General Australian, which you can guess is the Australian English.
Chihiro: That’s why you might learn a word one way, and your friend from London may pronounce it another way, and your friend from Texas will say it another,
Ryan: Now, depending on the researcher doing the counting and which dialect they do it on, the number of phonemes, or rather individual sounds, the tally tends to differ.
Chihiro: But generally, there are about 24~25 consonants, and 18~23 vowel sounds, that is looking at all three standard types.
Ryan :And it might seem that these sounds aren’t always represented well by the spelling, since English has so many words derived from different languages.
Chihiro: Right, but it actually does have a set of rules that provide a spelling explanation and how certain combinations sound like, and I’m sure most of you have noticed some of them one your own. But it’s better to learn it along the way then to try to learn those rules.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s very complex to stomach. Just keep in mind that how the word is spelt may not always be the way it’s pronounced... especially if you’re coming from a language that is pronounced the way it is spelled.
Chihiro: Yeah, talk about confusing! But not to worry, English is communicable across different accents.
Ryan: That's because in English, stress is phonemic.
Chihiro: Stress is what?
Ryan: Stress is phonemic, which means that if you change the stress of a word, then you change its meaning, or it just might not make sense altogether. For example the words, dessert and desert. The dessert is the ice cream after dinner, and desert is the area with lots of sand.
Chihiro: Or present and present. Present with a stress on the first syllable means gift. The second present with the stress on the second syllable is the verb meaning to formally give something to another.
Ryan: Because of this, people from different accents can understand each other. However, if a word stresses a different syllable, then it’s probably harder if not impossible to understand! Also, English is a stress timed language. Chihiro, can you explain that?
Chihiro: It means that the stressed or strong sound appears in more or less at a steady beat, and the unstressed sounds are shortened to accommodate it. That’s why you don’t hear all the sounds in a word or sentence clearly. Because everything is being adjusted to the stressed sound!
Ryan: Right. So listeners, don’t try to listen for every sound of the word or every word in a sentence. Listen for the stressed sounds, which will be the most important parts of speech. With practice you should be able to make out the whole phrase by recognizing the stressed sounds aided by the weaker sounds.
Chihiro: Right and when you practice, imitate the sounds you hear. Because when you utter them yourself, it not only makes it easier for the listener to understand, you’ll be able to catch them yourself when you hear others say it!
Ryan: Right, so good luck and remember to stick with it! Bye for now.
Chihiro: See you all soon.