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need help with pronunciation

 
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ddh33



Joined: 18 Oct 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:53 pm    Post subject: need help with pronunciation Reply with quote

First, it's cool to find a place like here. Nice to meet you all.
Very Happy
I have several questions that have been concerning me since I came to the US.

1. How do you tell the difference, when spoken, between "can" and "can't"? I don't know about others but most Chinese find it hard to tell. I asked an American friend once. His answer was that you put more stress on "can't." However, this difference is so subtle. How much stress is "strong stress"? I know it works most of the time. Sometimes, they just sound the same.

2. Are these sounds the same for Americans: "-le", "-ul", "el", etc., such as in "able, beautiful, label, V.S. "o", such as in "photo, grow." NO Chinese could tell the difference, though in school teachers say they are different.
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Duheng Deng -- I'm from China. Although I've been in the States for 2 years, I still have problems with English from time to time. Let's help each other out.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 1840
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:07 pm    Post subject: Re: need help with pronunciation Reply with quote

ddh33 wrote:
First, it's cool to find a place like here. Nice to meet you all.
Very Happy
I have several questions that have been concerning me since I came to the US.

1. How do you tell the difference, when spoken, between "can" and "can't"? I don't know about others but most Chinese find it hard to tell. I asked an American friend once. His answer was that you put more stress on "can't." However, this difference is so subtle. How much stress is "strong stress"? I know it works most of the time. Sometimes, they just sound the same.


It's hard to explain pronunciation without being able to say the sounds, but I will try. Usually, when "can" is in a sentence, the stress is on the verb, not on the word "can" and the "can" is pronounced with an unstressed vowel (usually shown by a schwa, or upside-down e). When "can't" is in a sentence, it is usually the stressed word, instead of the verb. That gives you an additional clue to which one someone is saying.

Sometimes, however, we emphasis the "can". (I thought you couldn't swim. Oh no. I CAN swim.) In this case, you probably are wondering what the difference is, between I CAN swim and I CAN'T swim. Since a final /t/ is voiceless, it makes the vowel or consonant before a little shorter. I teach my students that the ending sound in "can't" is like a cough. It's very hard to explain in words, but if you listen to native speakers, you might be able to catch the difference. Similarly, the /t/ makes the previous consonant last a shorter time in these pairs of words: bell/belt Ben/bent

Quote:

2. Are these sounds the same for Americans: "-le", "-ul", "el", etc., such as in "able, beautiful, label, V.S. "o", such as in "photo, grow." NO Chinese could tell the difference, though in school teachers say they are different.


The ending sounds in "able, beautiful, and label" are the same. The ending sounds in "photo, grow" are the same, but they are not the same as the ending sounds of "able," etc.

When you make an "o" sound, your tongue does not touch the roof of your mouth. It is again hard to explain, but the ending sound in able is an "/l/" sound, so your tongue touches the top of your mouth; however, it is at the end of a word, so it is a little more back than an "l" at the beginning.

Sigh. I hope I didn't confuse you more. There is nothing more difficult than trying to "explain" pronunciation instead of actually saying it!
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ddh33



Joined: 18 Oct 2005
Posts: 21
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I kind of perceive the differences from native speakers. I just can't tell for sure. And When I use can't instead of cannot, they sometimes misunderstand. Gotta work on that.

Anyway, thanks.
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Duheng Deng -- I'm from China. Although I've been in the States for 2 years, I still have problems with English from time to time. Let's help each other out.
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ab



Joined: 16 Oct 2005
Posts: 81
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2005 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

PHONETICS, PHONETICS, PHONETICS.
Buy a dictionary with phonetic symblos after each word. This will show you how it is said by native speakers.
You will need to buy an American one though, because different English speaking countries say words differently, and are therefore, spelled with different phonetic symbols.
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