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September 11, 2018


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Dear Simon:
This is more speaking not listening related but still I'd like to ask, hope you don't mind.

Anyway, I've been reading a book called Gimson's Pronunciation of English. Quite challenging actually. Here the author Alan Cruttenden writes (1) "with the side rims making a firm contact with the upper molars" for the vowel /i:/ as in "we".
(2) "the side rims making a light contact with the upper molars" for the vowel /e/, as in "wet".
(3) "no contact being made between the tongue and the upper molars" for the vowel sound we find in "war" and "door".

What I am cunfusing is that he writes "no firm contact being made between the tongue and the upper molars" for the vowel sound we find in "good" and "put". Here, does no firm contact mean no contact at all as in "war" and "door" or does it mean a light contact as in /e/.

Again, hope you don't mind my asking a speaking related question in the listening section.


Xi Xan
To me, it is less than for the vowel /e/ .

One good approach to improving your pronunciation is to focus on those issues which are most noticeable to native speakers. For some aspects, near enough is good enough. It is the obtrusive and impeding elements that need to be addressed. These are often predictable because they are simply things which have no near-equivalent in your own language. It is what is missing or very different that counts.

So for Mandarin speakers this usually means intonation, enunciating the final consonant, and connected-ness. For Cantonese speakers, it also usually means slowing down.

Here are some links which address the top issues, but do bear in mind that reading about it is not the same as listening. Listen and copy is the secret. Also bear in mind that perfection is not the aim. There are after all many different dialects of English, each with its own variations. The aim is to be close enough that your pronunciation, and intonation, and delivery is clear and does not grate.





Here's a simple formula for approximating the 'r' sound used in southeast England:
Drop the jaw, pout your lips into a duck-bill shape, and growl like a dog.

Xi Xin

"Connected-ness": Chinese speakers often sound like this to me:
It is~ sim. Ply a mat. Ter!? Off~tray. ning!!

Instead of:


ie It is simply a matter of training.

Correction: should be Close the jaw, pout, growl.

Xi Xin,

I think the sides of the tongue make a little light contact with the upper molars when I say "wet", but no noticeable contact when I say "good". When saying "war", there is more distance between the sides of tongue and molars.

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