because people speak English
This is the first video English lesson in the extended series, British English Pronunciation.Welcome to the first Linguaspectrum British English pronunciation video.
This series of videos has been created to give you a thorough understanding of British English pronunciation. In this extended video series, I will be explaining why spoken British English is so very different to written English. I will help you to improve your English accent, your listening skills and your ability to communicate effectively with others.
Let's begin by looking at the British English phonetic chart, shall we? This particular chart was developed by Adrian Underhill, a very well-known and respected English teacher and writer.
This is the British English phonetic chart. It is the chart that I will be using in these videos. It is also called the IPA chart. IPA is an acronym for the International Phonetic Alphabet. The symbols in the chart were developed by the International Phonetic Association as the standardized way of representing the sounds of spoken language.
The full IPA chart has over 160 symbols representing all of the distinct sounds of all the world's languages. Our British English IPA chart uses forty-four of the IPA symbols.
Each symbol in the chart represents a distinct sound in English. It is important that you can distinguish between each of the different sounds on the chart and that you can accurately reproduce them. This ability will help you to better understand British English pronunciation and will also help you if you need to look up the pronunciation of any English word in a dictionary.
The boxes at the top right of the chart are used to show strong and weak stresses and the five basic intonation patterns in spoken English. English is a stress-based language and getting the stresses right while speaking is an essential skill to master for good pronunciation and for making yourself understood.
Equally important are the intonation patterns of English. These are falling, rising, falling-rising, rising-falling and level. Intonation is another very important aspect of English pronunciation, and we will be looking in detail at intonation in these videos.
Sounds or letters?
Some of the symbols in the IPA chart match the letters of the alphabet and have their usual English sound values. That is, the letter of the alphabet and the sound represented by the IPA symbol are always the same.
This is only true of the following fourteen alphabetical consonants:
b, d, f, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, t, v, w, z
The remaining seven of the consonant letters of the alphabet have no set sound value and may be represented by several of the IPA symbols.
c, g, j, q, s, x, y
The five vowel letters also have no set sound values. The vowel letters are:
a, e, i, o, u
In the IPA British English chart, there are twenty symbols that represent the vowel sounds.
Take the words cat and key for instance. Both begin with a different consonant letter. K is one of those consonants that are always pronounced the same /k/ while C is one of the consonants that have no set sound value. Its sound can change depending on the word in which it is found. In the case of the word cat, C is also pronounced as /k/, but it is not pronounced the same in the word chair.
cat, key, chair
The IPA allows us to write down the actual sound of the word.
cat becomes /kæt/ while key becomes /ki:/ and chair becomes /ʧeə/.
Phonetic symbols, which represent sounds not the letters of the alphabet, are normally written between forward slashes //. Any symbol you see written between forward slashes in these videos represents a sound not a letter of the alphabet.
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