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American English Pronunciation Podcast (Pronuncian.com), #21: The American English Pronunciation Rhythm Rule and Sentence Stress, continued

#21: The American English Pronunciation Rhythm Rule and Sentence Stress, continued

Learn the basics behind sentence stress and the Rhythm Rule.

Transcript

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

This is podcast number 21, and my name is Mandy.

I hope you listened to last week's show because it gives the base for today's continuation of American English rhythm patterns and the Rhythm Rule.

The Rhythm Rule says that when English is spoken, the speaker alternates between stressed and unstressed syllables in regular intervals, with the stresses generally falling within content words.

Remember, content words are the words that give us the contents of what we are saying.

They are usually the words that give us a picture in our head. In general, content words are stressed more than function words.

Function words are grammatical words like articles, pronouns, and conjunctions.

There is a table of content words and function words with last week's transcripts.

Last week we listened to the different ways we can stress the content words of the sentence: I bought a blue car and keep the stressed syllables on a regular beat.

Here is a repeat of the three options of ways to stress that sentence. If you are reading the transcripts along with this show, you will see that the stressed words have been bolded.

I bought a blue car .

I bought a blue car. I bought a blue car .

Today we are going to expand on that a little, then listen to a clip from a movie.

I'm going to change the color of the car that I bought from blue to purple.

The only difference between the sets of sentences is obviously the color. First my car was blue, and now it's purple. Purple is a two-syllable word, while blue is a single-syllable word.

I have the same options of which words to stress in the sentence I bought a purple car .

I will probably stress my verb, bought , and then I can stress the word purple , or car, or purple and car .

Listen to the sentences.

I bought a purple car .

I bought a pur ple car. I bought a pur ple car .

In the first example I stressed bought and car .

I needed to say the word purple quickly to be able to keep the beats equally spaced because the word purple has two syllables.

In the second example, I chose to stress the word purple , but not the word car .

It is rather straightforward.

In the third example I can stress both words without needing to say the stressed syllable of the word purple for any extra time (like I had to say the word blue ) because I have an extra syllable to work with and take up time before the next stressed syllable.

I am making the word purple, which has two syllables, the same length as the word blue, which only had one syllable.

Listen to the examples again.

I bought a purple car .

I bought a pur ple car. I bought a pur ple car .

So how would I decide which stress pattern to use?

Well, because I'm a native speaker, I didn't need to consciously decide. The decision came perfectly naturally to me because I intuitively learned these rules as a child, the same as you intuitively know the rhythm of your own first language.

Let's go inside my head and see what I would have been thinking when deciding which words to stress.

Since I was only saying one sentence and there is no other context around that sentence, I would need to decide which words and details are the most important for my listener to know about. There isn't a right or wrong answer, it just depends on what was important to me. First, I would stress the word bought because it says what happened. This sentence has no auxiliary words, and there is only one verb, so that was simple to decide. Then I needed to decide if the next important information was the car, a detail about the car (the color), or both. Then I adjusted my speech pattern appropriately.

Listen to the examples one more time and notice how I've made only certain words stand out.

I bought a purple car .

I bought a pur ple car. I bought a pur ple car .

That's enough talking about boring car colors.

Let's do something more fun.

As promised last week, we'll listen to another short clip from the movie The Incredibles .

The Incredibles is my favorite Disney Pixar computer animated movie. It is very funny. It also has wonderful actors doing the voices and provides lots of examples of American English speech patterns.

In this clip, Dash, who is one of the children in the movie, is in the principal's office.

His teacher suspects him of putting thumbtacks on his chair. Dash has the superpower of being a really fast runner, and when he runs he is too fast to be seen. Dash's mom, Mrs. Parr is speaking to the principal and teacher in this scene.

The transcripts of what exactly is being said will be online with the transcripts for this show, and I'll also add an audio file of just this clip so you can to just listen to it again and again if you want to.

I'll also bold the stressed words, to help you pick them out. Don't get confused with the added increased pitch of some of the words. We haven't talked about intonation yet. For now, we are only listening for the rhythm of the stressed and unstressed words.

During this clip, the principal first thanks Helen Parr for coming to the school and she asks if her son has done something wrong.

Bernie, the teacher, then accuses Dash of mocking him in front of the class and putting thumbtacks on his chair. Dash's mom asks if the teacher saw him do that, and the teacher says that he didn't, but he hid a camera, and recorded the incident.

Here's the clip.

PRINCIPAL: I ap pre ciate you coming down here, Mrs. Parr . HELEN: What 's this about ?

Has Dash done some thing wrong ? BERNIE: He's a dis rup tive in fluence and he o penly mocks me in front of the class . DASH: He says. BERNIE: Look , I know it's you! He puts thumb tacks on my stool . HELEN: You saw him do this? BERNIE: Well ...not really. No . Actually, not . HELEN: Oh , then how do you know it was him ? BERNIE: I hid a cam era. Yeah, and this time, I've got him.

And here is the whole clip one more time:

PRINCIPAL: I ap pre ciate you coming down here, Mrs. Parr . HELEN: What 's this about ?

Has Dash done some thing wrong ? BERNIE: He's a dis rup tive in fluence and he o penly mocks me in front of the class . DASH: He says. BERNIE: Look , I know it's you! He puts thumb tacks on my stool . HELEN: You saw him do this? BERNIE: Well ...not really. No . Actually, not . HELEN: Oh , then how do you know it was him ? BERNIE: I hid a cam era. Yeah, and this time, I've got him.

I hope you can hear the Rhythm Rule in action during that clip.

At first, it can be kind of hard to hear the beats of English, but you can practice with any English audio you've got to listen to, and it will get easier.

Next week I'm going to return to sound and do a review of all the sounds we've covered so far.

It is always a good idea to go back and review every now and again. There is so much to learn about English pronunciation that it will be easy to forget the early stuff. And if you've only listened to more recent podcasts, next week will give you a good idea of which episodes you might want to go back and grab off of iTunes.

Speaking of iTunes, I would love it if some brave souls would go out and write a review of this podcast on iTunes.

It would help me out a lot, and it would give potential listeners an idea of what you think of this show.

If you'd like to send me comments or suggestions, please email me at podcast@pronuncian.com.

As always, this week's transcripts are located at www.pronuncian.com.

That's it for this week, everyone.

I hope you enjoyed the movie clip as much as I did.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication.

Seattle Learning Academy is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening!

Bye-bye.



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#21: The American English Pronunciation Rhythm Rule and Sentence Stress, continued

Learn the basics behind sentence stress and the Rhythm Rule.

Transcript

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

This is podcast number 21, and my name is Mandy.

I hope you listened to last week's show because it gives the base for today's continuation of American English rhythm patterns and the Rhythm Rule.

The Rhythm Rule says that when English is spoken, the speaker alternates between stressed and unstressed syllables in regular intervals, with the stresses generally falling within content words.

Remember, content words are the words that give us the contents of what we are saying.

They are usually the words that give us a picture in our head. In general, content words are stressed more than function words.

Function words are grammatical words like articles, pronouns, and conjunctions.

There is a table of content words and function words with last week's transcripts.

Last week we listened to the different ways we can stress the content words of the sentence: I bought a blue car and keep the stressed syllables on a regular beat.

Here is a repeat of the three options of ways to stress that sentence. If you are reading the transcripts along with this show, you will see that the stressed words have been bolded.

I bought a blue car .

I bought a blue car. I bought a blue car .

Today we are going to expand on that a little, then listen to a clip from a movie.

I'm going to change the color of the car that I bought from blue to purple.

The only difference between the sets of sentences is obviously the color. First my car was blue, and now it's purple. Purple is a two-syllable word, while blue is a single-syllable word.

I have the same options of which words to stress in the sentence I bought a purple car .

I will probably stress my verb, bought , and then I can stress the word purple , or car, or purple and car .

Listen to the sentences.

I bought a purple car .

I bought a pur ple car. I bought a pur ple car .

In the first example I stressed bought and car .

I needed to say the word purple quickly to be able to keep the beats equally spaced because the word purple has two syllables.

In the second example, I chose to stress the word purple , but not the word car .

It is rather straightforward.

In the third example I can stress both words without needing to say the stressed syllable of the word purple for any extra time (like I had to say the word blue ) because I have an extra syllable to work with and take up time before the next stressed syllable.

I am making the word purple, which has two syllables, the same length as the word blue, which only had one syllable.

Listen to the examples again.

I bought a purple car .

I bought a pur ple car. I bought a pur ple car .

So how would I decide which stress pattern to use?

Well, because I'm a native speaker, I didn't need to consciously decide. The decision came perfectly naturally to me because I intuitively learned these rules as a child, the same as you intuitively know the rhythm of your own first language.

Let's go inside my head and see what I would have been thinking when deciding which words to stress.

Since I was only saying one sentence and there is no other context around that sentence, I would need to decide which words and details are the most important for my listener to know about. There isn't a right or wrong answer, it just depends on what was important to me. First, I would stress the word bought because it says what happened. This sentence has no auxiliary words, and there is only one verb, so that was simple to decide. Then I needed to decide if the next important information was the car, a detail about the car (the color), or both. Then I adjusted my speech pattern appropriately.

Listen to the examples one more time and notice how I've made only certain words stand out.

I bought a purple car .

I bought a pur ple car. I bought a pur ple car .

That's enough talking about boring car colors.

Let's do something more fun.

As promised last week, we'll listen to another short clip from the movie The Incredibles .

The Incredibles is my favorite Disney Pixar computer animated movie. It is very funny. It also has wonderful actors doing the voices and provides lots of examples of American English speech patterns.

In this clip, Dash, who is one of the children in the movie, is in the principal's office.

His teacher suspects him of putting thumbtacks on his chair. Dash has the superpower of being a really fast runner, and when he runs he is too fast to be seen. Dash's mom, Mrs. Parr is speaking to the principal and teacher in this scene.

The transcripts of what exactly is being said will be online with the transcripts for this show, and I'll also add an audio file of just this clip so you can to just listen to it again and again if you want to.

I'll also bold the stressed words, to help you pick them out. Don't get confused with the added increased pitch of some of the words. We haven't talked about intonation yet. For now, we are only listening for the rhythm of the stressed and unstressed words.

During this clip, the principal first thanks Helen Parr for coming to the school and she asks if her son has done something wrong.

Bernie, the teacher, then accuses Dash of mocking him in front of the class and putting thumbtacks on his chair. Dash's mom asks if the teacher saw him do that, and the teacher says that he didn't, but he hid a camera, and recorded the incident.

Here's the clip.

PRINCIPAL: I ap pre ciate you coming down here, Mrs. Parr . HELEN: What 's this about ?

Has Dash done some thing wrong ? BERNIE: He's a dis rup tive in fluence and he o penly mocks me in front of the class . DASH: He says. BERNIE: Look , I know it's you! He puts thumb tacks on my stool . HELEN: You saw him do this? BERNIE: Well ...not really. No . Actually, not . HELEN: Oh , then how do you know it was him ? BERNIE: I hid a cam era. Yeah, and this time, I've got him.

And here is the whole clip one more time:

PRINCIPAL: I ap pre ciate you coming down here, Mrs. Parr . HELEN: What 's this about ?

Has Dash done some thing wrong ? BERNIE: He's a dis rup tive in fluence and he o penly mocks me in front of the class . DASH: He says. BERNIE: Look , I know it's you! He puts thumb tacks on my stool . HELEN: You saw him do this? BERNIE: Well ...not really. No . Actually, not . HELEN: Oh , then how do you know it was him ? BERNIE: I hid a cam era. Yeah, and this time, I've got him.

I hope you can hear the Rhythm Rule in action during that clip.

At first, it can be kind of hard to hear the beats of English, but you can practice with any English audio you've got to listen to, and it will get easier.

Next week I'm going to return to sound and do a review of all the sounds we've covered so far.

It is always a good idea to go back and review every now and again. There is so much to learn about English pronunciation that it will be easy to forget the early stuff. And if you've only listened to more recent podcasts, next week will give you a good idea of which episodes you might want to go back and grab off of iTunes.

Speaking of iTunes, I would love it if some brave souls would go out and write a review of this podcast on iTunes.

It would help me out a lot, and it would give potential listeners an idea of what you think of this show.

If you'd like to send me comments or suggestions, please email me at podcast@pronuncian.com.

As always, this week's transcripts are located at www.pronuncian.com.

That's it for this week, everyone.

I hope you enjoyed the movie clip as much as I did.

This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication.

Seattle Learning Academy is where the world comes to learn.

Thanks for listening!

Bye-bye.


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