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标准美语发音的13个秘诀 A Few Words On Pronunciation

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A Few Words On Pronunciation CD 1 Track 2

I'd like to introduce you to the pronunciation guide outlines in the following chart. There aren't too many characters that are different from the standard alphabet, but just so you'll be familiar with them, look at the chart. It shows eight tense vowels and six lax vowels and semivowels.

Tense Vowels? Lax Vowels?

In some books, tense vowels are called long and lax vowels are called short. Since you will be learning how to lengthen vowels when they come before a voiced consonant, it would be confusing to say that hen has a long, short vowel. It is more descriptive to say that it has a lax vowel that is doubled or lengthened.

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Although this may look like a lot of characters to learn, there are really only four new ones: æ, ä, ə, and ü. Under Tense Vowels, you'll notice that the vowels that say their own name simply have a line over them: [ā], [ē], [ī], [ō], [ū]. There are three other tense vowels. First, [ä], is pronounced like the sound you make when the doctor wants to see your throat, or when you loosen a tight belt and sit down in a soft chair—aaaaaaaah! Next, you'll find [æ], a combination of the tense vowel [ä] and the lax vowel [ε]. It is similar to the noise that a goat or a lamb makes. The last one is [æo], a combination of [æ] and [o]. This is a very common sound, usually written as ow or ou in words like down or round. A tense vowel requires you to use a lot of facial muscles to produce it. If you say [ē], you must stretch your lips back; for [ū] you must round your lips forward; for [ä] you drop your jaw down; for [æ] you will drop your jaw far down and back; for [ā] bring your lips back and drop your jaw a bit; for [ī] drop your jaw for the ah part of the sound and pull it back up for the ee part; and for [ō] round the lips, drop the jaw and pull back up into [ū]. An American [ō] is really [ōū]. VNow you try it. Repeat after me. [ē], [ū], [ā], [æ], [ä], [ī], [ō].

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A lax vowel, on the other hand, is very reduced. In fact, you don't need to move your face at all. You only need to move the back of your tongue and your throat. These sounds are very different from most other languages. Under Lax Vowels, there are four reduced vowel sounds, starting with the Greek letter epsilon [ε], pronounced eh; [i] pronounced ih, and [ü] pronounced ü, which is a combination of ih and uh, and the schwa, [ə], pronounced uh—the softest, most reduced, most relaxed sound that we can produce. It is also the most common sound in English. The semivowels are the American R (pronounced er, which is the schwa plus R) and the American L (which is the schwa plus L). Vowels will be covered in greater detail in Chapters 3, 8, and 11.

Voiced Consonants? Unvoiced Consonants?

A consonant is a sound that causes two points of your mouth to come into contact, in three locations—the lips, the tip of the tongue, and the throat. A consonant can either be unvoiced (whispered) or voiced (spoken), and it can appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. You'll notice that for some categories, a particular sound doesn't exist in English.

Initial MedialFinal

Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced Unvoiced Voiced

parry

bury

apple

able

mop

mob

ferry

very

afraid

avoid

off

of

stew

zoo

races

raises

face

phase

sheet

 

pressure

pleasure

crush

garage

two

do

petal

pedal

not

nod

choke

joke

gaucho

gouger

rich

ridge

think

that

ether

either

tooth

smooth

come

gum

bicker

bigger

pick

pig

 

 

accent

exit

tax

tags

 

yes

 

player

 

day

 

wool

 

shower

 

now

his

 

ahead

 

 

 

 

late

 

collect

 

towel

 

rate

 

correct

 

tower

 

me

 

swimmer

 

same

 

next

 

connect

 

man

 

 

 

finger

 

ring

 

viii

Pronunciation Points

1           In many dictionaries, you may find a character that looks like an upside down V, [A] and another character that is an upside-down e [ə], the schwa. There is a linguistic distinction between the two, but they are pronounced exactly the same. Since you can't hear the difference between these two sounds, we'll just be using the upside-down e to indicate the schwa sound. It is pronounced uh.

2          The second point is that we do not differentiate between [ä] and []]. The [ä] is pronounced ah. The backwards C []] is more or less pronounced aw. This aw sound has a "back East" sound to it, and as it's not common to the entire United States, it won't be included here.

3          R can be considered a semivowel. One characteristic of a vowel is that nothing in the mouth touches anything else. R definitely falls into that category. So in the exercises throughout the book it will be treated not so much as a consonant, but as a vowel.

4          The ow sound is usually indicated by [äu], which would be ah + ooh. This may have been accurate at some point in some locations, but the sound is now generally [æo]. Town is [tæon], how is [hæo], loud is [læod], and so on.

5          Besides voiced and unvoiced, there are two words that come up in pronunciation. These are sibilant andplosive. When you say the [s] sound, you can feel the air sliding out over the tip of your tongue—this is a sibilant. When you say the [p] sound, you can feel the airpopping out from between your lips—this is a plosive. Be aware that there are two sounds that are sometimes mistakenly taught as sibilants, but are actually plosives: [th] and [v].

6           For particular points of pronunciation that pertain to your own language, refer to theNationality Guides on page 172. Throughout this text, we will be using three symbols to indicate three separate actions:

Indicates a command or a suggestion.

Indicates the beep tone.
Indicates that you need to turn the CD on or off, back up, or pause.

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