English pronunciation

Students are presented with the main ideas about the difference between the Russian and English pronunciation norms through introduction of some Phonetic information. This information will also help students to be aware of the things and errors that can simply arise from the mispronunciation of this or that sound or sound combination. The aim is to decrease the number of problems independent specialists encounter when dealing with English for their professional matters and if not to achieve the mastery over phonetics, but to at least prevent the unexpected appearance of such problems.

Here there are some aspects on which you need to work in order to master English pronounciation better:

FREQUENCY

By "frequency" I mean "frequency of actual use by educated speakers who are careful about usage". That means that educated people who pay attention to what they say tend to say this rather than something else.

CLARITY

In many cases, this work will select the pronunciation that is clearest for having the most full vowels and fewest schwas: káandidàet rather than káandidat, próegraam rather than próegram. Schwa is a highly variable vowel.

DISTINCTNESS

Often, one alternative pronunciation of a word is similar or identical to another word with a very different meaning (a homophone), but the other common pronunciation one might use cannot be confused with any other word.

For instance, we can separate "bouquet" into two nonhomophonic words by sense if we say boekáe for a cluster of flowers but buekáe for aroma.

SYLLABIC STRESS

Sometimes a word can be pronounced with two different syllabic stresses, depending upon context. This is especially common among adjectives. In the case of other words, syllabic stress may vary according to grammatical function.

GRAMMATICAL FUNCTION

The pronunciation of a word may vary for grammatical reasons. Words like "combat" can be both noun (kómbaat) and verb (kambáat); words like "expert" and "adult" can be both noun (ékspert, áadult) and adjective (ekspért, adúlt). Which function such words serve in a given instance makes a difference.

In general, nouns and adjectives take syllabic stress toward the beginning of the word, and usually on the first syllable (except when a noun is distinguished from an adjective by varying the syllabic stress), whereas verbs take syllabic stress toward the end, and usually on the last syllable.

USAGE LEVEL

Often, two pronunciations are given, one of which is shorter by a small syllable (jénral/jéneral, séprat/séparat) or seems in some other way more casual than the other. The shorter pronunciation is what most people say most of the time; the longer is preferred in formal usage such as speeches before gatherings of academics or elected officials.

STANDARD

If you want to learn proper British pronunciation, look elsewhere. This area is devoted to proper transnational English, which is General American ("G.A."), the speech preferred by broadcasters across the United States and Canada. British English, where it departs from (North) American, is dialectal, specific to the British Isles, New Zealand and, especially in its lower-class varieties, to Australia, South Africa, and the West Indies.

TASK. Take any sample of non-native English speech and try to notice and describe the above-mentioned phenomena, then send your report to the teacher with the sample being analyzed.