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标准美语发音的13个秘诀Chapter 1 Reduced Sounds

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Reduced Sounds CD 2 Track 24

The Down Side of Intonation

Reduced sounds are all those extra sounds created by an absence of lip, tongue, jaw, and throat movement. They are a principal function of intonation and are truly indicative of the American sound.

Reduced Sounds Are "Valleys"

American intonation is made up of peaks and valleys—tops of staircases and bottoms of staircases. To have strong peaks, you will have to develop deep valleys. These deep valleys should be filled with all kinds of reduced vowels, one in particular—the completely neutral schwa. Ignore spelling. Since you probably first became acquainted with English through the printed word, this is going to be quite a challenge. The position of a syllable is more important than spelling as an indication of correct pronunciation. For example, the words photograph and photography each have two O's and an A. The first word is stressed on the first syllable so photograph sounds like [fod'græf]. The second word is stressed on the second syllable, photography, so the word comes out [f'tahgr'fee]. You can see here that their spelling doesn't tell you how they sound. Word stress or intonation will determine the pronunciation. Work on listening to words. Concentrate on hearing the pure sounds, not in trying to make the word fit a familiar spelling. Otherwise, you will be taking the long way around and giving yourself both a lot of extra work and an accent!

Syllables that are perched atop a peak or a staircase are strong sounds; that is, they maintain their original pronunciation. On the other hand, syllables that fall in the valleys or on a lower stairstep are weak sounds; thus they are reduced. Some vowels are reduced completely to schwas, a very relaxed sound, while others are only toned down. In the following exercises, we will be dealing with these "toned down" sounds. In the Introduction ("Read This First," page iv) I talked about overpronouncing. This section will handle that overpronunciation. You're going to skim over words; you're going to dash through certain sounds. Your peaks are going to be quite strong, but your valleys, blurry—a very intuitive aspect of intonation that this practice will help you develop. Articles (such as the, a) are usually very reduced sounds. Before a consonant, the and a are both schwa sounds, which are reduced. Before a vowel, however, you'll notice a change—the schwa of

the turns into a long [e] plus a connecting (y)—Th ' book changes to thee(y)only book; A hat becomes a nugly hat. The article a becomes an. Think of [ə●nornj] rather than an orange; [ə●nopening],

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