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American English Pronunciation Podcast (Pronuncian.com), #195: Dropping the /k/ in "asked" (HIMYM)

[YES, you can pronounce it as "ast"!

]

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast.

My name is Mandy, and this is our 195th episode.

I think this episode is kind of special.

It's a fun one that shows that unexpected things about pronunciation are always happening, and there will always be more to learn.

Way back last July, a question popped up on the English Assembly forums that led to a really interesting discussion.

A user named Tony asked how to pronounce the words "asked" and "asks." He also mentioned that he was having more trouble with "asked" than "asks." Fellow user, Ngoc, said that he noticed that sometimes it seems like some people don't say the k sound in asked, pronouncing it as "ast" instead. I had honestly never noticed it before Ngoc mentioned it, but once it was brought to my attention, I did notice it happening from time to time.

Many months passed.

Then, a few weeks ago I was watching an episode of the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother . This particular episode had the theme of a group of friends calling each other when they needed help with something, but they didn't want the friend to ask why it needed to be done. We have a phrase for this in English, and that phrase is "no questions asked." The idea behind "no questions asked" is, "I need you to do this, but you can't ask why." Among this group of friends, this came up so often that they began using the phrase as a noun that means something similar to a favor. So instead of saying, "You owe me a favor," they would say, "You owe me a no-questions-asked." During this episode, the phrase was repeated again and again and again! That amount of repetition was a sort of dream come true for me for studying the pronunciation of the word "asked" by a bunch of different people. Certainly, the majority of the time, they did as Ngoc said, and dropped the k sound . Only a few times was the /k/ left in. Even more surprising to me was that the /k/ was dropped even if the word "asked" was being stressed in a sentence.

Since I know you'll all want to hear this, I went through and dug out all of the times they said the phrase "no questions asked.

" I've included the transcripts for the TV show clip as well, so you can read along with it if they're speaking too quickly or background sound of the show makes it hard to hear.

First is Marshall, dropping the /k/ twice: I need you to do this no questions asked, as as we both know, you owe me a no questions asked.

Then Ted, keeping the /k/: Hey, listen, I need you to do something for me no questions asked, okay?

And Ted again, in a loud whisper, dropping the /k/: No question asked.

Marshal again, dropping the /k/: You owe me a no-questions-asked.

Barney, dropping the /k/: Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

I'm going to play that one again, because we have the word asked at the beginning of the sentence, too, when Barney says, "Marshall asked me to do something for him.

" Only in this case, even the -ed ending is dropped when it's linked into the word "me" and the phrase turned into "assme." Listen closely, I'll play it again twice in a row.

Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

Now Marshall, in an almost exact repeat of the first time we hear him, dropping the /k/ twice: And I need you to do it no questions asked, and as you recall, you owe me a no-questions-asked.

Barney, again dropping the /k/: No questions asked.

Barney again, stressing the word "asked," but still dropping the /k/: I said no questions asked.

Marshall, again with no /k/: You owe me a no questions asked.

Back to Ted, who once again does say the /k/ in both of these instances, though the second time is very small: No questions asked.

You owe me a no questions asked.

Ted again: stressing the phrase, and with a very tiny /k/: No questions asked.

And one last clip from Ted which I listened to over and over because it's a tough one.

Ted tends to say the /k/, but very as a very small sound. In this phrase, he's also linking the the word "asked" into the word "Lilly," so the /t/ is also very tiny. He'll say "I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly." Since it's so hard to hear, I'll play the clip twice: I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly. I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly.

So, the questions this makes me ask are: What does this mean and what is the patten behind it?

Well, first, it means that if it's difficult for you to say all of the sounds of the word "asked," you should feel very comfortable dropping the /k/ and saying "ast" instead. As far as a pattern behind it, I don't know one. I couldn't find anything about it in John Wells's Phonetic Blog or anywhere else. It really just seems to be a personal choice. In How I Met Your Mother , the actor who plays Ted clearly prefers to keep the /k/, while everyone else drops it regularly. If you come across any more instances of this on TV or anywhere else, please add a note of where it was to the English Assembly forum string. I'll add a link to that post from this episode's transcript page. I'll also add a separate audio file on that page so you can listen to just the audio clips without listening to the whole podcast again.

You can find the transcripts by going to www.pronuncian.com and clicking episode 195.

If, by the time you listen to this, it's an older show, just click the "Archive" link and you'll find all of the older episodes.

Now, just for fun, here are all of the clips again.

Marshall: I need you to do this no questions asked, as as we both know, you owe me a no questions asked. Ted: Hey, listen, I need you to do something for me no questions asked, okay? Ted: No questions asked. Marshal: You owe me a no-questions-asked. Barney: Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

Marshall: And I need you to do it no questions asked, and as you recall, you owe me a no-questions-asked. Barney: No questions asked. Barney: I said no questions asked. Marshall: You owe me a no questions asked. Ted: No questions asked. You owe me a no questions asked.

Ted: No questions asked. Ted: I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly.

Thanks Tony and Ngoc for bringing this to my attention.

I don't think I would have noticed it if you hadn't been talking about it on the forums. Since working on this podcast I've noticed myself saying it both ways. I think I tend to add the /k/ when it's the stressed word and drop it when it's not, but that's far from a scientific study. I encourage you to pronounce it however is the most comfortable for you.

That's all for today, everyone.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. SLA is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening.

Bye-bye.



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[YES, you can pronounce it as "ast"!

]

Hi everyone, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast.

My name is Mandy, and this is our 195th episode.

I think this episode is kind of special.

It's a fun one that shows that unexpected things about pronunciation are always happening, and there will always be more to learn.

Way back last July, a question popped up on the English Assembly forums that led to a really interesting discussion.

A user named Tony asked how to pronounce the words "asked" and "asks." He also mentioned that he was having more trouble with "asked" than "asks." Fellow user, Ngoc, said that he noticed that sometimes it seems like some people don't say the k sound in asked, pronouncing it as "ast" instead. I had honestly never noticed it before Ngoc mentioned it, but once it was brought to my attention, I did notice it happening from time to time.

Many months passed.

Then, a few weeks ago I was watching an episode of the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother . This particular episode had the theme of a group of friends calling each other when they needed help with something, but they didn't want the friend to ask why it needed to be done. We have a phrase for this in English, and that phrase is "no questions asked." The idea behind "no questions asked" is, "I need you to do this, but you can't ask why." Among this group of friends, this came up so often that they began using the phrase as a noun that means something similar to a favor. So instead of saying, "You owe me a favor," they would say, "You owe me a no-questions-asked." During this episode, the phrase was repeated again and again and again! That amount of repetition was a sort of dream come true for me for studying the pronunciation of the word "asked" by a bunch of different people. Certainly, the majority of the time, they did as Ngoc said, and dropped the k sound . Only a few times was the /k/ left in. Even more surprising to me was that the /k/ was dropped even if the word "asked" was being stressed in a sentence.

Since I know you'll all want to hear this, I went through and dug out all of the times they said the phrase "no questions asked.

" I've included the transcripts for the TV show clip as well, so you can read along with it if they're speaking too quickly or background sound of the show makes it hard to hear.

First is Marshall, dropping the /k/ twice: I need you to do this no questions asked, as as we both know, you owe me a no questions asked.

Then Ted, keeping the /k/: Hey, listen, I need you to do something for me no questions asked, okay?

And Ted again, in a loud whisper, dropping the /k/: No question asked.

Marshal again, dropping the /k/: You owe me a no-questions-asked.

Barney, dropping the /k/: Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

I'm going to play that one again, because we have the word asked at the beginning of the sentence, too, when Barney says, "Marshall asked me to do something for him.

" Only in this case, even the -ed ending is dropped when it's linked into the word "me" and the phrase turned into "assme." Listen closely, I'll play it again twice in a row.

Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

Now Marshall, in an almost exact repeat of the first time we hear him, dropping the /k/ twice: And I need you to do it no questions asked, and as you recall, you owe me a no-questions-asked.

Barney, again dropping the /k/: No questions asked.

Barney again, stressing the word "asked," but still dropping the /k/: I said no questions asked.

Marshall, again with no /k/: You owe me a no questions asked.

Back to Ted, who once again does say the /k/ in both of these instances, though the second time is very small: No questions asked.

You owe me a no questions asked.

Ted again: stressing the phrase, and with a very tiny /k/: No questions asked.

And one last clip from Ted which I listened to over and over because it's a tough one.

Ted tends to say the /k/, but very as a very small sound. In this phrase, he's also linking the the word "asked" into the word "Lilly," so the /t/ is also very tiny. He'll say "I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly." Since it's so hard to hear, I'll play the clip twice: I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly. I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly.

So, the questions this makes me ask are: What does this mean and what is the patten behind it?

Well, first, it means that if it's difficult for you to say all of the sounds of the word "asked," you should feel very comfortable dropping the /k/ and saying "ast" instead. As far as a pattern behind it, I don't know one. I couldn't find anything about it in John Wells's Phonetic Blog or anywhere else. It really just seems to be a personal choice. In How I Met Your Mother , the actor who plays Ted clearly prefers to keep the /k/, while everyone else drops it regularly. If you come across any more instances of this on TV or anywhere else, please add a note of where it was to the English Assembly forum string. I'll add a link to that post from this episode's transcript page. I'll also add a separate audio file on that page so you can listen to just the audio clips without listening to the whole podcast again.

You can find the transcripts by going to www.pronuncian.com and clicking episode 195.

If, by the time you listen to this, it's an older show, just click the "Archive" link and you'll find all of the older episodes.

Now, just for fun, here are all of the clips again.

Marshall: I need you to do this no questions asked, as as we both know, you owe me a no questions asked. Ted: Hey, listen, I need you to do something for me no questions asked, okay? Ted: No questions asked. Marshal: You owe me a no-questions-asked. Barney: Marshall asked me to do something for him, no questions asked.

Marshall: And I need you to do it no questions asked, and as you recall, you owe me a no-questions-asked. Barney: No questions asked. Barney: I said no questions asked. Marshall: You owe me a no questions asked. Ted: No questions asked. You owe me a no questions asked.

Ted: No questions asked. Ted: I called in a no-questions-asked with Lilly.

Thanks Tony and Ngoc for bringing this to my attention.

I don't think I would have noticed it if you hadn't been talking about it on the forums. Since working on this podcast I've noticed myself saying it both ways. I think I tend to add the /k/ when it's the stressed word and drop it when it's not, but that's far from a scientific study. I encourage you to pronounce it however is the most comfortable for you.

That's all for today, everyone.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. SLA is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening.

Bye-bye.


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