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 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.
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⤵
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?
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!