May the 4th Be With You – pronunciation in a Galaxy Far Far Away.

Do you know how the word “to” is pronounced?

How do they pronounce the word “to” in other galaxies? And in Britain?

If this video does not work on your device you can join the free class on Edpuzzle here is the link.

 

This little word often causes problems for non-native speakers.   Everybody knows the word and can recognise it in a written sentence.   But when that sentence is spoken in fast connected speech it often is misheard and not understood.   This is because the word  is pronounced in different ways depending on its position in a sentence and what the following sound is.

If the word to  is at the end of a sentence, then it is pronounced in the strong form – to  (and then it sounds like two or too).    But this is the more unusual way to use this word.  More often  to    is a weak word in a sentence and is pronounced as / tǝ /       ǝ is the shwa sound – the ehh  sound that is the most commons sound in English.

Is it correct English to use this weak form?

Non-native speakers often think that pronouncing to in this weak way is lazy or wrong.  But using these weak forms of words is normal in natural spoken English.    You need to learn how to use these weak forms of words to make your speech sound more natural.    If you always pronounce to in the strong way your English will sound very unnatural.

There are some more examples in this clip with a free quiz to test your listening skills.

What else can we learn from Star Wars about / t / ?

If you want to look at other aspects of how we pronounce the letter T on this special Star Wars day here are more Star Wars quotes from the clip below, with an explanation of how the /t/ sounds links up words.

/ t /  is also used as a linking sound in connected speech.

I  have a bad feeling about⤻ this.

The / t / at the end of about  is used to link to  this.    There are no pauses for breath between the words.

I sense it⤻ too.

The / t / at the end of it links to  too.    Only one / t / is heard.   There are no pauses between the words.   It sounds like —    I sense itoo

Whattook you so long?  

If the t is the last consonant sound in a word and the next word begins with a vowel the t sound is carried across to the next word to link them together.

I hate it when he does that.    I  hattit when he does that.

The spelling of hate ends in an e but the last sound is the / t /.   The / t / moves over and links up with it.      

Sometimes the t at the end of a word is not pronounced.

We haven’t much time.

Read this sentence out loud and work out how you think it will be pronounced.   Remember that too and to will be pronounced differently.   The to in to do is weak.  The multiple  / t / ‘s in doesn take too long are heard clearly as voiced / t /

I hope it doesn’t take too long. I have work to do.

Here is another free quiz on EDpuzzle to check you listening skills and ensure you know how to pronounce to and can connect words with t in British English

The questions do not display on ipads and phones. If you want feedback on your answers you can sign up on EDpuzzle for this Star Wars class.  To join this free class on Edpuzzle here is the link.

English is a stress-timed language.   We stress words in a sentence that have the main content and meaning, and all the other words are weak.     We don’t pause for breath between words in a sentence.  We link the words together and join up the sounds to make it easier to say the sentence quickly.   The words flow together, with no gaps between words.   This all makes it very difficult for non-native speakers who are used to seeing all the words written down on paper.  When we speak we don’t say all the words the way you might expect us to.

For more lessons on British connected speech sign up to my mailing list.     New lessons every week.If you are frustrated when native speakers ask you to repeat what you have said, or if you are fed up of not hearing all the words in spoken English, then learning more about connected speech will really help.  I have a Spring special offer on my Listening and Pronunciation course on italki.

May the Fourth Be With You – Happy Star Wars Day.

 

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