8 Tips for British English Pronunciation

{“en”:”Hi, everyone. I’m Jade. What we’re talking about today is some pronunciation tips for British English. Some of them are tips; some of them are observations that you might be interested to know. We’ve got eight of them, so let’s get started. Pronunciation of-ed word endings. This is not specifically a British English issue. If your preference — I don’t know why I can’t speak suddenly in an English pronunciation video, but that’s how it is. If your preference is American English, this also applies to American English. So what I hear a lot at, sort of, around intermediate level — sometimes upper intermediate level if you haven’t had someone to correct you — -ed word endings sound like this.

I can’t even do it because it’s so unnatural for me. “Excite-ed shout-ed, remind-ed.” It’s so unnatural for me. But in fact, it’s not like that. It doesn’t sound like an -ed. It might sound like an /id/; it might sound like a /t/; or it might sound like a /d/. So I’ve got some examples here. This word, even though it’s spelled -ed, makes an /id/ sound. It becomes “excited”. “I’m really excited.” “Shouted.” “He shouted at me.” “Reminded.” “I reminded you to do your homework; didn’t I?” And — yeah.

So now, we can talk about the ones that finish with a t sound. “Finished. Dripped. Laughed.” They don’t have the-ed sound. So that’s an important thing to know about pronunciation. Even if it’s spelled-ed, it doesn’t mean it sounds like that. And what about the ones that end with a d sound, a “duh” sound. “Remembered.” “I remembered what you said to me.” “Called.” “I called you. Didn’t you hear your phone?” “Imagined.” “I imagined a better future for everyone.” So with those, it’s a D sound. How do you know for each one? Go with what feels most natural when you’re saying the word.

The main thing is don’t force the -ed sound at the end of the word because it’s that that gives you an unnatural rhythm when you’re speaking English. So moving on to — this one’s an observation, really. British English pronunciation. We have so many different accents in England. But one of the biggest divisions in our accents is — it’s between the north of the country and the south, and it’s our pronunciation of these words: “bath” and “laugh”, as I say them. I say them in the southern pronunciation. But if I were from the north — if I were from the north of the country, I’d say “bath” and “laugh” because they have a different accent up there. Well, they’ve got loads of different accents, but they don’t speak in the same way as me. So let’s break it down into the actual sound. So if you’re from the North, you say, “a”. But we, in the South, say “au”. So you say “bath”, we say “bauth”. And you say “laf”; we say “laugh”. And you can also hear it in these two words. It doesn’t have to be the first or only a vowel in the word.

In the southern pronunciation, this is “commaund”. But in the northern pronunciation, it’s “command”. And the southern pronunciation of this word is “caust”. The northern pronunciation is “cast”. The cast of Brookside came to London.” “Brookside” was an old soap that’s not on TV anymore, and it was people from Liverpool. And I was just doing the accent. Probably that’s really irrelevant to you.

You will never see that show, but anyway. You know, now. Next tip. I don’t hear this that often, but when I do, it sounds really, really, really wrong. And I think this tip generally — generally a good example of how — just because we write something one way doesn’t mean we say it that way. So in English — American English, too — W sounding words are the same as the “wh” sound in words for spelling. It actually sounds the same. So we’ve got two words here, “wine” and “whine”.

One is spelled with WH, and one is just spelled with I. “Whine” is a kind of moan or a kind of cry. Sometimes, young children whine. Sometimes, women who are upset about something are said to be “whiny”. So we don’t really say that men whine. That’s probably a bit sexist. But, yeah. The point is they sound the same but are spelled differently. So I’ve sometimes heard people try to make the “wh” sound like “hwhine” or something like that or in these words, “which” and “witch” are the same. Some people might say “hwhich”. And that used to be a feature of British English. If you listen to some speakers of British English from a long time ago, like around the 1920s — T.

S. Eliot, although he wasn’t British, he did acquire a really strange British accent. And when he spoke English, he would make the “hwhich” sound. And that was a standard feature of the accent then. But if you say it now, it just sounds a bit weird. So don’t be making the “hwh” sound. And here, two commonly spoken words with that “hwh” sound that you shouldn’t say — so you should say “what” without “hwhat, hwhat, hwhat do you want?” That would be awful.

And “hwhere” — don’t say that. Just say it without the H sound. Let’s take a look at the pronunciation of -ing word endings. So in just relaxed, informal speech, I feel that a lot of dialects don’t pronounce the G. So it would be like this. “I was listening to some music.” You don’t hear the G there. But if we’re making an effort to speak properly and with very good enunciation, you would hear the G slightly. It would sound like this, “I was listening to a wonderful lecture yesterday.” And you hear my G. It’s very soft, but it’s there. Something to say about British English pronunciation is — again, this is a north-south difference — is that they, up there, some of the accents ring the G, so it’s, like, “listening, speaking.

I was speaking to him.” And if that’s a feature of your accent, that’s a feature of your accent. But in standard English, you don’t ring it. You don’t make an extra “guh” or “juh” sound at the end. So the standard way to make the G sound, “reading.” But I’m just letting you know that in relaxed and informal speech, many times, we don’t hear the G. So when we come back we’ll look at the other four rules or tips — tips, really. Tips and observations about pronunciation. Tip No. 5, when we’re saying a word with two or more syllables, very often, the second syllable is not stressed, and it’s what we call a “schwa”. So even though all these words have a different spelling for the second syllable, they become a schwa.

So what some people do is they’ll say the word. And a good example is this word. They will say “En-gland”. But actually, it sounds like this “England”. So the vowel changes to a schwa, and then, it’s — another way to look at it is it becomes a softer sound. So let’s say some of the words. “London”, not “Lon-don”. “London, England, together”, not “togeth-er”. “Together”. “Button”, not “butt-on”. “Button”. “Cousin”. So that’s the schwa, and supposedly the most common sound in the English language, and it’s a pretty confusing sound as well because it’s always spelled in different ways, and it doesn’t actually sound exactly the same when it moves around into different words. So not an easy one to get familiar with. So the main thing to take away from it is that don’t put that very big stress on all your syllables in the word. It won’t sound right.

No. 6, tip No. 6, British English is a non-rhotic accent. This is the sound /r/. In your language, maybe you do that thing where you roll your tongue which I can’t do. I just — I so can’t do it. So like how I can’t do that sound, you might find it really hard to make that sound without rolling your tongue. Okay. It’s hard. Pronunciation is not easy. But you can always work at something and train yourself. So when we make the R sound, the position of the tongue is quite far back in the throat. R, R, R. And it doesn’t have that rhotic sound. And in some dialects, for example, in Scottish, you do hear it. So I’m going to say this sentence in a Scottish accent, “The murderer wore red.” Sorry, Scottish people. But they put the R sound in. I kind of did it then. Maybe I can do it after all. But in my accent, I would say, “the murderer wore red.” So we don’t roll our tongues. And that’s something — if you want to speak standard British English, you could work on that R if you do it.

So if you’re Arabic or if you’re Spanish, Italian as well, you could work on that sound. No. 7, now. So this is a hard sound. I’m going to have to be honest with you. It’s a hard sound for me because I’m a Londoner, and I’m from South London, and we’re not very — we don’t like this sound very much. We like to replace it with an F sound. I’m not too bad making this sound at the beginning of a word, “three”, “thought”, “think”. But sometimes, it’s quite hard for me, like in this word. I want to say “birfday” with an F, but it should be “birthday”. It’s really hard for me. But it’s not just hard for me; it’s hard for people all over the world.

Maybe we should just get rid of this sound. We don’t need it anymore. Some people replace it with D. I’ve got an Italian student who replaces it with D. So he would say “dirty dree”. That’s not an Italian restaurant, but — restaurant? Italian restaurant? Why am I thinking about food? It’s not an Italian accent. Because he can’t say “th”, he replaces it with /d/. But other people might replace it with /v/ as well. So a tip for making the “th” sound, you put your tongue between your teeth. And it’s a kind of whisly sound without the /f/. Your lip is more pursed at the top. So you don’t want to do that when you’re making the “th”. Just try it. I’ll say the words for you. “Three”, “thumbs” — thumbs up if you can make that sound — “birthday”, “thought”, “think”, “bath”. It’s hard for me. I’m trying. I’m trying with you.

We’re learning together today. And rule No. 8, “can’t”. Oh, that’s meant to have that there. A lot of people get confused because sometimes they think, “Did you say a negative there, or did you say the positive?” They get really confused. In British English, we don’t always say the T. We don’t always pronounce the T in this word “can’t”. So it might sound like this, “I can’t understand you.” But it might also sound like this, “I can understand you.” And when I said it the second way, you didn’t hear the T. And the reason that happens is speech just become as little bit more fluid, a little bit more easy to say without the T.

But you don’t need to be confused because, actually, the opposite of “can’t” is “can”. And /caen/ is a different vowel. It’s /ae/, whereas this vowel is /a/. So they would sound completely different. It would be, “I can’t understand you.” Very different to “I can’t understand you” or “I can understand you.” So when you’re listening out for that negative sometimes, know that we might say it with or without a T.

So thank you everybody for watching today. You can do a little bit of extra practice on the EngVid site for this lesson. And if you do like my lesson, please do subscribe because I make lots of different lessons, not just about pronunciation but all other things about learning English as well that I think will be very education and very useful for you in your general development as a learner of English or someone who’s just trying to improve your English. And I’m finished now, so I’m going to go. I’m going to go now, okay? I’ll see you later.. “}

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