Friday, December 16, 2011


One of the things that people often say about the English language is that its pronunciation is particularly tricky. Foreigners never seem to master it fully. The Japanese never get over their problems with ‘l’ and ‘r’, confusing words like lip and rip. The Germans have problems with /s/ and /z/, confusing peace and peas. Almost everyone but the native speaker of English born and bred has problems with the "th" sounds /q / and / /, for instance whether they can 

distinguish thigh from thy. At best foreigners end up sounding like Henry Kissinger or Jean-Paul Gaultier—highly fluent English with a marked foreign accent. Nobody seems to master English who wasn’t born to it. At least so the story goes.
English pronunciation is then believed to be special. But what are the aspects of English pronunciation that could conceivably be unique? One peculiarity might be the intonation of English—the way that the voice goes up and down as people speak. Take the difference between three ways in which people can say John: ´John, `John and é John; on ´John the voice goes up; on `John it goes down; on é John it goes first down and then up. Each of these variations conveys a slightly different shade of meaning, whether a question ´John, or a statement `John, or that there is some doubt in the speaker’s mind é John.
For the next, we can practice some game to teach the students in pronunciation games
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