It is quite common for non-native speakers of English to mispronounce English words. However, it is not something we have to be ashamed of, but something we ought to understand. We have to get to the root/s of the problems, in order for us to improve our pronunciation. Here are some tips I hope could help you understand English pronunciation better.
English is not phonetic
Unlike other languages, English is not phonetic. What does that mean? It means we don’t always say English words the way we spell them. Let’s compare two languages as an example.
Ex. The Japanese word “honto” (really) is pronounced the way it is spelled.
The English word “really” is not pronounced as "re-a-li" or "re-a-lai", nor is the word “really” spelled as “rili”.
Ex. Another example is the word “read”. At times it is pronounced as [red] and at times as [ri:d]. Although the spelling may not change, the way it is pronounced changes depending on the tense you are using.
That’s one of the main reasons non-native speakers of English get confused in pronouncing many English words, especially if their native tongue is phonetic.
The Sounds of -ed
The past simple tense and past participle of all regular English verbs end in “ed”. However, the “ed” added to the verbs may have different sounds which depends if the base verb’s sound is voiceless or voiced.
What is the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds?
VOICED -A consonant is voiced when it makes the vocal cords vibrate.
VOICELESS -When a consonant is pronounced without vibrating the vocal cords,
There are three ways of pronouncing the –ed sound. / Id/ or / t/ or / d/
Keep in mind that it is not the spelling but the sound that is important. For instance, ‘wax” ends in x but the sound is /s/.
There are some exceptions though. The following words used as adjectives are pronounced with / Id/.
blessed, aged, ragged, wretched, naked, crooked
Two ways of pronouncing “the”
When used before a vowel sound, we say “the” as “thee”. Keep in mind that it is the sound we should listen to, not the letters themselves.
Ex. The apple is pronounced as “thee apple”.
The hour is pronounced as “thee hour”. (hour sounds like our)
When used before a consonant sound, we say “the” as “thuh”.
Ex. The graduates is pronounced as “thuh graduates”.
The university is pronounced as “thuh university”. (university sounds like yuniversity)
For Other Factors Affecting English Speaking Skills Click Here