Some English as a Second Language students demand to learn how to pronounce every word "perfectly," but it is extremely difficult if not impossible. They are frustrated because no matter how much they practice their pronunciation, they feel they don’t sound natural. The ironic thing is, Americans don't even use perfect pronunciation anyway. One reason is because they usually link words together when they talk. If students want to speak every word perfectly, every word will be pronounced in isolation and not in relation to the other words in the sentence, so they will be losing out on the rhythm. Nevertheless, there are many different types of linking; today, we are just going to focus on one type—BLENDING.
Blending occurs when a final consonant sound of a word connects to a beginning vowel sound of a subsequent word. Read the first sentence by trying to pronounce every word perfectly with pauses between every word. This will sound extremely unnatural.
Sentence: Pick up your clothes in your room.
Now, try to blend or link the indicated words together. This practice results in a completely different rhythm.
Sentence with underlined links: Pick up your clothes in your room.
Pronunciation: PI CUP your CLO THSIN your room.
Try saying the following linked sentences:
I don’t need another piece of cake. = I don’t NEE DAnother PIE SOF cake.
They haven’t tried organic food. = They haven’t TRIE DORganic food.
Sometimes I take care of my pets at home. = SomeTIME SI take CA ROF my PET SAT home.
So, how can you study this? Use any text, assignment, project, etc. that your professor gives you. Link the final consonant sound in the first word to the first vowel sound in the second word with links, or underlines. IF THE SECOND WORD BEGINS WITH A CONSONANT SOUND, DO NOT LINK!
Or, listen to a TED talk online. Google search "Ted talks" and choose a topic you like. Play the clip for a moment to make sure the accent is an American English speaker. Click on "Transcript" below the video on the right print it out or cut and paste it. Link words together by connecting them with lines as you hear, or as you anticipate. Replay and practice saying these words out loud.
You will learn more about linking next week on “Monday Mouthfuls,” with Kelly Flemming.