American English Pronunciation The Letter G

How to pronounce the letter G

American English pronunciation the letter G

American English pronunciation the letter G

This week, one of my accent reduction coaching clients was a bit surprised to realize that when the letter G occurs at the beginning of a word, it can have a soft sound or a hard sound.

The sounds of the letter G

In American English pronunciation the letter G sometimes has a soft /ʤ/ sound .

The letter G sometimes has a hard /g/ sound.

Here are the rules

The letter G has a soft /ʤ/ sound at the beginning of these words:

  • giant
  • genuine
  • gym
  • generous

Listen here 

 

The letter G has a hard /g/ sound at the beginning of these words:

  • go
  • gave
  • get
  • gone
  • gigabyte

 Listen here 

 

Why does the G have different sounds?

Some of the reasons for the different sounds are historic.

  1. Most words of Germanic origin (gift, get, got) begin with a hard /g/ sound.
  2. Most words of Greek origin (gymnasium, gymnastics) begin with a soft /ʤ/ sound.
  3. Most words of Romance origin (geography, giant, general) begin with a soft /ʤ/ sound.

BTW~ if you work in technology, the word gigabyte is pronounced with two hard Gs. The prefix, “giga” comes from a Greek word meaning “giant.”

 Arabie, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Bengali, Telegu & Gujarati Speakers

In my experience as an accent reduction coach, Spanish speakers, Arabic speakers, French speakers, Japanese speakers, Korean speakers and some Indian English speakers have problems articulating the soft g sound /ʤ/.

Learn more

To learn more about the sounds of the letter G, follow the link below to read an entertaining article about this sound.

Sounds of the letter G

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How to Communicate Clearly with Americans

Communicate clearly with Americans

Communicate clearly with Americans

How to Communicate Clearly with Americans

When people first contact me for accent reduction training, they often say…

Susan, I want learn how to communicate clearly with Americans.

  1. They want to communicate in a way that’s clear.
  2. They want to communicate in a way that Americans respect.
  3. They want to communicate in a way that Americans connect with.

These are excellent and achievable goals!

Accent Reduction Coaching

When you sign up to work with me in my accent reduction coaching program, I start out by asking you to tell my your communication goals.

Then I give you a complete and detailed Assessment so that you can understand WHY your speech doesn’t always sound clear to American listeners.

I then choose 4 objectives for us to work on together during your coaching sessions.

These are objectives that I believe will bring you closer to your communication goals.

Not Accent Elimination

Some people tell me that they want to eliminate their accents.  That probably won’t happen.

Losing your accent takes years. And for most people, it’s simply not necessary!

If your goal is to communicate clearly with Americans, I can help you achieve that!

Read More About How to Communicate Clearly with Americans

This blog is packed with TIPS on how you can communicate more clearly with Americans.

Choose another post below to read more. Or sign up in the box on the right hand side of the page to get these tips in your email.

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Why is my accent hard for Americans to understand?

Do you know why your accent is hard for Americans to understand?

What I mean is, do you know exactly what you are saying or not saying correctly?

One very common problem

One on the most common reasons Americans don’t understand you is probably the is the way you stress in words and sentences.

What is stress?

Let me explain what I mean by stress…..

American speakers alternate between using stressed & unstressed words in phrases and sentences. They don’t pronounce every word with the same emphasis.

If you emphasize every word equally, Americans will have a hard time understanding you.

Here’s an example

In the following short greeting, listen to how I stress the most important words.

Hi SUSAN, how ARE you TODAY? ⤵

The pattern sounds like this~laLAla laLAlalala

Listen here

 

Using stress correctly is a key skill

Learning to use stress correctly when you speak American English is a key skill that you must apply if you want to make your accent easier to understand!

The American accent is not just about articulation of sounds

Many people believe that if they articulate every vowel & consonant sound clearly and correctly, they’ll have a perfect American accent.

This is not how it works!!!

Articulation is important…..but… even if you say every vowel and consonant sound correctly, your speech will be hard for Americans to understand if you use the incorrect STRESS patterns.

Accent reduction coaching

When you work with me in my accent reduction coaching programs, I teach you how to use stress correctly so that Americans will understand you.

That’s because this feature of American English is CRITICAL for comprehensibility!

Read more or sign up to get these posts in your email

If you’re someone who wants to learn more about speaking clear and professional sounding American English, read more of the posts here on my ConfidentVoice blog.

Or sign up to get these posts in your email. The sign up box is over there on the right.

How to blend sounds for smooth American speech

How to blend sounds for smooth American speech

Smooth American speech

Smooth American speech

Here’s an accent reduction TIP for those of you who want your American speech to sound smooth.

Blending consonant sounds

When you’re speaking American English, there are many consonants that don’t always sound sharp and distinct.

Instead, they’re blended together to make new sound.

Blending examples

When these words that end with an /s/ or /z/ or /t/ are followed by the word your,  the blended sound is /tch/ or /zh/.

  1. that your = thatcher
  2. what’s your= whatcher
  3. how’s your =howzher
  4. put your=putcher

Listen here

 

Palatalized sounds

Linguists call these blended sounds, “palatalized”  because your tongue moves over the hard palate on the roof of your mouth when you say them.

Why is blending important for a good American accent? 

If you’re only interested in pronunciation, don’t worry about blending.

People will understand you if you pronounce every sound distinctly.

Smooth American speech vs choppy American speech

But if you want your American English to sound smooth and natural, I strongly suggest you learn to using blending techniques.

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Russian

speakers don’t usually use blending techniques. Not doing this will make your speech sounds CHOPPY to the American listener.

Your lack of melody makes it tiring for Americans to listen to you.

You may even come across as unfriendly!

American accent coaching

In my accent reduction coaching programs, I teach you how to blend sounds for smooth American speech.

I teach you how to speak in a way that sounds smooth, clear and professional.

If smooth communication is important for you in your career, take a look at what I have to offer.

Pronunciation Games

Pronunciation Games 

Pronunciation games

Pronunciation games

Before the proliferation of pronunciation apps, Oxford University Press put out some fun and very useful pronunciation games on the web.

Games for  pronouncing vowels, consonants and syllable stress

The games have British English audio….. but the consonant games (with voiced and voiceless sounds) and most of the syllable stress practice are the same as in American English.

Try these games on you computer or smartphone

I just tried the games and they are quite fun! And they’re free.

Pronunciation Games

To read more tips for clear American English pronunciation, choose a link below. There’s a lot you can learn about spoken American English here on my ConfidentVoice blog.

Apps for Business English

Apps for Business English

Apps for business English

Apps for business English

The people at Language Success Press have developed a nice series of apps for business English.

You’ll learn to use

  1. American business phrases
  2. American business idioms
  3. American business vocabulary

Pronunciation is not the focus

While the content in these apps is excellent, pronunciation is not the focus. Keep that in mind if you’re looking for apps with instruction in American English pronunciation.

Downloadable on the App Store

Follow this link to see more details and get these apps. Apps for business English.

Do You Pronounce Abbreviations Correctly?

Do You Pronounce Abbreviations Correctly?

Do you pronounce abbreviations correctly?

Do you pronounce abbreviations correctly?

Most of the people I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs never learned how to pronounce abbreviations correctly in American English.

And since they never said abbreviations with the correct stress, there were many breakdowns in communication.

It’s Easy

It’s super easy to say abbreviations correctly if you know the rule. So here it is……

Abbreviations are stressed on the LAST LETTER.

This means that you need to use a rise in pitch to emphasize the last letter.  Then you need to use a FAlling tone to bring your abbreviation to a close.

Three Examples 

Here are 3 examples. The arrows indicate the rise & fall of the pitch:

1. IBM ~ eye beeyeMMm⤵

2. USA ~you wesaAYy ⤵

3. ATM ~ ay teeyeEMm⤵

Listen Here

 

Could you hear how I emphasized the last letter using a slightly higher pitch? Could you hear the fall at the end? Listen again if you didn’t hear that. It’s important.

Why Is This Important?

Why do I teach this accent reduction technique to my coaching clients?

Because…..

American listeners expect abbreviations to be stressed on the last letter. If you don’t do this, there’s a very good chance that they won’t understand you when you speak.

Simply said, if you say every letter in an abbreviation using the the same amount of stress, American English speakers will have a very difficult time understanding what you are saying.

Easy to Fix

While this type of error frequently causes communication confusion,  it’s REALLY EASY to fix.

Give this accent reduction technique a try the next time YOU say an abbreviation. If you do it correctly, Americans WILL understand you more easily!

 

 

I understand English, the problem is SPEAKING

The problem is speaking

The problem is speaking

The problem is speaking

The people who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program understand English. As they tell me every week~

Susan, I understand English, in fact I understand it really well. The problem is speaking. People don’t always understand me when I speak.

This happens to lots of people

If you first learned to speak English outside the US or Canada you may not SPEAK English in a way that North Americans can understand.

Even if you read and write English at a Masters or PhD level, you may have found that people don’t understand everything you say.

This is normal

It’s extremely rare that anyone who learned English outside the US or Canada  speaks with the syllable stress and melody of American English.

VERY RARE!

In most cases, those of you who learned English in China, India, Russia, Europe or Latin America never had the opportunity to learn

……from a native speaker.

Instead, you probably learned English from a textbook.  Your teacher was probably not a native speaker.

Maybe you never really spoke English at all in your English classes! Many of my accent reduction coaching clients have told me that.

Spoken & written English are really different

One of the BIG reasons that people speak American English in a way that’s difficult for Americans to understand is that written English and spoken English are very different.

English doesn’t sound like it’s spelled.

You can’t SEE key features of spoken English such as

  • syllable stress
  • the schwa sound
  • the tapped T sound
  • linking

….in the written language. Even though they are critical for clear SPOKEN English.

How I help people to speak American English

In my American accent coaching programs, I teach you to SPEAK English in a way that will allow Americans to understand you.

I teach you how to speak like we natives do.

I’m not saying that you’ll lose your accent. You probably won’t. And that’s not necessary.

However, you CAN learn to speak in a way that sounds clear and engaging to Americans.

Take a look at my American Accent Coaching Programs

If you’re serious about speaking clear, engaging and professional American English, check out my coaching programs. Making changes to the way you speak is an investment in time and an investment in money.

But if spoken English is critical to your career success, it’s absolutely an investment worth making.

My Programs for STEM Professionals

My Basic Programs

Without Credible

 

How to sound friendly in American English

How to sound friendly in American English

How to sound friendly in American English

How to sound friendly in American English

Have people commented that your American English sounds sort of

  •  flat
  • monotone
  • unfriendly

Many of the people I work with in my accent reduction coaching programs have been told this. Since my clients are for the most part very friendly people, they want to change this perception.

How can you do this?

In order to change sound more friendly when speaking American English, you need to learn how to use American English intonation patterns.

What are intonation patterns? 

Intonation is the melody of spoken language. ♬ It’s the way we use pitch emphasis in phrases and sentences.

The way you use intonation sets the TONE of your message. This can be friendly, bored, uncertain, angry, confident…..

Here’s an example

When I ask someone “Hey Susan, how ARE you?”  ⤵ I use rising falling intonation.

I rise up on ARE …and then glide or fall down on you.  That type of melody makes me sound nice & friendly.☺

If I just say “Hey Susan, how are you?” without a rising falling intonation contour, I don’t sound as friendly.

Listen here to compare the tone of my message

 

Learn to speak in a friendly manner

I teach you to use rising falling intonation so that you can speak English in a manner that’s friendly and engaging in all my accent reduction programs. I you want to sound more friendly when YOU speak American English, take a look at what I have to offer.

Here is a short QUIZ on American English Intonation Patterns-Give it a try!

American English Intonation Patterns

Choose the best answer for each question about American English intonation.
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