Did you say live or leave?

Did you say live or leave?

live or leave, ship or sheep

live or leave, ship or sheep

Do people get mixed up when you say the words live & leave?

This happens to non native speakers of American English all the time.

Here’s why that happens

Two American English vowel sounds that non-native speakers frequently mispronounce are:

  • /iy/ as in Green
  • /I/ as in Silver

Many of the international professionals who I work with in my accent reduction coaching program over pronounce the /I/ as in Silver.

They use too many facial muscles to make this sound.

When they do that, the /I/ as in Silver sounds like /iy/ as in Green.

A true story

Here’s a funny (true) story that illustrates what I mean:

I was working with a multinational manager in Turkey. We were talking about commodities and I asked him how he got his raw materials.

He told me, “the raw materials come by sheep“.

And I thought, what? By sheep?!

But of course I figured out that what he meant was ship.

We laughed and got to work on that sound

When I told him what I heard, he and I both laughed. Then I told him that he needed to relax his facial muscles in order to say the word ship with the correct vowel sound.

Other words with /I/ as in Silver that my clients usually over pronounce using /iy/ as in Green include:

  • video
  • limited
  • live
  • system
  • Virginia

There are many more!

Learn the American vowel sounds

For an introduction to all the American English vowel sounds check out my iPad book, Fundamentals of the American Accent.

This iBook is available in 50 countries in Europe & the Americas on the iBookstore. If you are an iPad user who working to improve your American accent, take a look at this multi-touch book.

About the author

Susan Ryan is the author of the ConfidentVoice blog and an American English communication and accent reduction coach.