past tense pronunciation

<b>Forum for ideas on how to teach pronunciation </b>

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Tara B
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past tense pronunciation

Post by Tara B » Thu Mar 03, 2005 12:26 pm

In normal conversational speech, is there a difference in the pronunciation between these sentences?

"They walk to the store." (every day)
"They walked to the store." (yesterday)

fluffyhamster
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Post by fluffyhamster » Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:01 pm

For all practical purposes, no, and don't let that worry you, if you haven't already realized that the wider context "will disambiguate" (hell, it pretty much ALWAYS disambiguates!) the "meanings" (that is, THE meaning, singular). :wink:

(Hope that didn't sound patronizing - that isn't my intention at all, as I'm sure you know...that I'm sure that you know...all this; that is, I would agree that it is an interesting, if ultimately probably rather an academic, question :P ).

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Lorikeet
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Post by Lorikeet » Thu Mar 03, 2005 3:58 pm

In my version of "standard" American English, the answer is no. If the verb is followed by a word starting with a vowel, then you can hear the linking and tell the difference. I went so far as to make a lesson on the Internet about it. heh
http://fog.ccsf.edu/~lfried/level6/ex1verbs.html

Tara B
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Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:58 pm
Location: Sterling, VA

I'm glad!

Post by Tara B » Thu Mar 03, 2005 5:50 pm

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks they're the same!

But that leads to my real question:

Obviously the three-pronged rule for past tense (/t/, /d/, /ed/) taught in most textbooks doesn't actually reflect reality. I'd say that the past tense might actully have 9 pronunciations: each of the above can be followed by a vowel, a consonant, or a pause.

I tried to teach my students this once, but it was overload for them. In fact the three-part rule gets a little sketchy--most of my students even have some trouble with the voiced-voiceless distinction. I've considered teaching a two-part rule just focusing on if you add the extra syllable (/ed/) or not.

I was wondering if some of you more experienced teachers have ever tried anything other than the traditional way, and if you've had any success.

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