Last week I discussed why we don’t pronounce the t when it is in a consonant cluster. Today I want to look at another one.
The glottal stop
An important feature of informal spoken English is the glottal stop. This happens when we tighten our throat and stop the air getting out. This means the / t / sound at the end of familiar words such as got, get, what is not pronounced. This can make it difficult to recognise these words. This glottal stop is a feature of many British Accents. It is common in London accents but is also a feature of many Northern English accents.
Another very common feature of informal spoken English is not pronouncing the g at the end of words ending in –ing. There are many examples of this happening in this phone call.
So back to the story:
If this is your first time reading this story then you might want to go back and find out what happened in the Listening Exercise on Valentine’s day.
It’s now a week since the events of Valentine’s Day. As usual you are on the train on your way home from work and the woman sitting opposite you is making another phone call.
Can you work out what the phone call is about? You can only hear one-side of the phone call and there is background noise of the train as well.
Remember – this is natural conversational speed English. You will not hear all the words, as I don’t say them all fully.
Hi Jane, it’s me again…..yeah I’m on the train, I’m on my way home… …… So, you never did tell me, what did you get for Valentine’s day? What did Stuart get you?……………. What?………….….Really?….. ….. Plane tickets? Wow that sounds amazing………….
……..Yes I’d ‘ve been shocked too,……..so when are you going to Paris? ….. wow next weekend? Really? Wow, he booked the flights and the hotel and everything… gosh it makes my lamb shanks meal deal seem really boring now……..
Gosh I wish someone would whisk me off to Paris or to Rome or anywhere for the weekend …. .My life is so boring compared to yours…..
So what are you going to do in Paris? ………….yeah, yeah, yeah , yeah, yeah I see all the usual touristy stuff, Have you not been before? ……….Really, well, you won’t be able to see everything in the weekend, you will have to queue for hours to go up the Eiffel Tower… and a massive queue usually to see the Mona Lisa……. I’d say go on the boat down the river – you can hop on and off at all the main tourist sites on one ticket…and can just wonder round the cafes and you can go for a really romantic meal… oh it will be great ..oh I’m so jealous…..
Yeah well I am going to plan a weekend away for me and Paul… somewhere romantic….. Well as romantic as you can get with two kids in tow… .. yea, I know we will have to take the kids, there is nowhere else to leave them, but it would still be nice to get away for a few days in the next holidays..yeah, yeah, well you’ve got me thinking. I am going to get looking for a cheap deal somewhere..yeah I am sure we can find somewhere.
So what time do you fly to Paris? Oh, eeek the traffic will be terrible on Friday night to the airport … yeah, I know you’ve got to go Friday. oh no, I wouldn’t want to sit in that traffic on a Friday night.ummm….And isn’t Paris going to be a bit cold next weekend? I’m not sure I’d really want to go at this time of year it’s a bit chilly……..
Yeah, Well I’m going to have a google and see what I can find for me and the kids and Paul..well… ok ok, well have a lovely time, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do…. Enjoy Paris… speak to you next week..have a lovely time … bye
Expressing surprise when listening.
When we are listening to somebody speak either on the phone or face to face we use words such as Really, wow, gosh to express our surprise. You will hear a lot of these words in this sound file.
Colloquial and idiomatic expressions.
In this phone call there are a few expressions that you might not be familiar with.
to whisk someone off or to whisk someone away – this means to take someone away somewhere quickly, often as a surprise.
to have something or someone in tow. To tow, something means to pull it behind you. The car is towing a trailer. So when used as an idiomatic expression, to tow someone or to have someone in tow, means the person is following close behind you because you are looking after them, you have responsibility for them.
Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. This phrase is friendly, parental style advice and means Behave Yourself, but is acknowledging that the person will be probably be doing something that the speaker would like to do themselves. It is often said to people going for a night out or a weekend away, who are going to have a good time whilst the speaker of the phrase will be left at home wishing they could go and do these things.
Is there anything else in this sound file you would like me to explain? Let me know in the comments and I will get back to you.