English Conversation Study

In this American English pronunciation video, we’ll go for a hike in Colorado. My dad and I discussed the hike and we’ll talk about interesting pronunciations and vocabulary words that come up in real English conversation. This hike is called Chihuahua Gulch. Chihuahua. Have you heard this word before? It’s a teeny tiny breed of dog. The spelling is pretty strange in American English because this word comes to us from Spanish. The breed originated in Mexico. This hike is called Chihuahua Gulch and it’s about seven miles roundtrip. Roundtrip. The opposite of this phrase is one way. So when you go somewhere and come back, that’s roundtrip. Notice how the D is dropped. Roundtrip. We often drop the D when it comes between two other consonants. Roundtrip. Roundtrip. It’s about seven miles roundtrip and it goes up about 1,900 feet. So this hike ends at a lake? Yeah. You go… you start off going uphill about thirty minutes, then you go through this long valley. Notice how my dad really stretches out the word ‘long’. Why does he do that? When we want to really stress words, we make them longer, and you might do that especially with the word ‘long’ making it longer for dramatic purposes.

Long Valley. That took a long time. That test was so long. through this long valley with a lot of gorse and little lakes and— Gorse. Hmm…do you know that word? I didn’t either. Let’s find out what it means. With a lot of gorse and little lakes and little streams. Gorse. Gorse are these bushes. Oh! I didn’t…didn’t know that. And you sort of go to the end of the trees where the jeep road ends. Did you understand what he said there? He called this road ‘jeep road’. So a jeep is a really rugged vehicle that has a high clearance. That is a lot of room between the ground and the bottom of a car. You would not be able to drive a regular car on this road. Where the jeep road ends and then it’s just a single path. And you end up at a mountain lake.

And you said that mountain lake: “Eh, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.” You’ve seen one. You seen them all. This is a phrase you might use to say that something isn’t special. Now the full grammatically correct pronunciation of this phrase would be ‘If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.’ but that’s not how we pronounce it. We like to reduce things in American English especially familiar words and phrases and this is a familiar known phrase.

You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. We dropped the word ‘if’, we reduce ‘you’ve’ to just ye– and we reduce ‘them’ to ‘um’. You seen. Seen um. You’ve seen one. You seen them all. Another scenario where you may use this: do you want to visit Paris? Nah, I’m not that into cities. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Eh, You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. A lot of them are pretty similar. A lot of them. My dad also reduced ‘them’ to ‘um’. This is a really common reduction just like in the phrase ‘you’ve seen one, you seen them all’. A lot of them. A lot of them. Practice that with me out loud, smoothly connecting all the words. A lot of them. A lot of them. A lot of them are pretty similar. But you do have a great view? You can see a long way out over the… a couple of different mountain ranges. A couple of different mountain ranges. My dad reduced the word ‘of’ to just the schwa. Uh. A couple of— We do this so much in conversation especially with this phrase: a couple of— A couple of different mountain ranges.

And the lake itself is probably— Probably— This is how we pronounce ‘probably’ most of the time in conversation. You can do it too. It simplifies the word and makes it easier to say. Try it now. Probably. Probably. Probably. Itself is probably hundred yards across and maybe 200 by 400. Does anyone ever swim there? I did see somebody swim in there once.

– Very cold. – Ice cold. Really cold. Listen to the different ways we describe how cold it is. – Very cold. – Ice cold. Really cold. Really cold. Ice cold. Very cold. ‘Really’ and ‘very’ are words we use before adjectives to say there’s a lot of something. Really cold. Very cold. A high amount of coldness. Ice cold is another great way to describe something being very cold. Now this lake is not ice, its water, it’s very cold water.

So describing it as ice cold is an exaggeration, a hyperbole. I know it’s not actually ice. I know it’s just extremely cold water. – Very cold. – Ice cold. Really cold. I had no temptation to do that. Yeah, I don’t think I will either. This is just… you can’t design a better day. There’s not much wind, hardly any clouds, cool but not cold, and this time of year, you have a lot of aspens turning yellow. This time of year. Another example of reducing the word ‘of’ to just the schwa in natural conversation. This time of year. This time of year, you have a lot of aspens turning yellow and these bushes, I mean, they would be green and in the summer. Yeah it looks awesome. I mean, I love, I love the view. Yeah. Sweeping views. And we have seen wildlife along here. Yeah, just a couple hundred yards down. Once, there were four moose. Moose. These animals are fairly rare to see in the wild. One other time when I was in Colorado, we saw one. Click here or in the video description to see that video.

There were four moose grazing right by the path. Further down yet, we saw heard of maybe 10 or 15 antelope. – Wow. – Galloping along. You often see deer. You often see. My dad reduced ‘you’ to ye, changing the vowel to the schwa. This is also a common reduction. Why do we do this? Because in American English, the contrast between stressed and unstressed syllables is really important. So if we can make unstressed syllables even shorter by changing something, then we do that. You often see. You often see deer up here and then on the rocks, you can see marmots sometime and pike which are little tiny animals like and they squeak. How many times have you done this hike? Probably five or six. Probably. There’s another probably to probably reduction. Probably five or six. And to me, it’s the most scenic hike around here especially in September. Scenic. This is a great word you can use to describe a beautiful landscape.

Scenic. Scenic. To me it’s the most scenic hike around here especially in September because the aspen are turning yellow and a lot of these bushes are turning red and in June, July, it’s just the waters too high you’d have to take off your shoes and put on sandals and just wade through. So usually, we wait till August or September to do this one. Wade. This is what you do when you’re walking through water. So you’re not swimming. You’re walking like through a creek. If the water is too deep, then you can’t wade. You have to swim. Take off your shoes and put on sandals and just wade through. Here is David walking over the creek that dad says you have to wade through when the water is higher. We didn’t make it to the top.

Yeah but we got to a good turning around point and we had a fantastic view, we had lunch looking out down the long valley. Couldn’t have been better. Couldn’t have been better. A word here is being reduced to just the schwa. What word is it? We noticed before that the word ‘of’ reduces to just the schwa. But here it’s the word ‘have’. Yes, the word ‘have’ can be changed to just the schwa sound: uh in conversation especially after could, couldn’t, should, shouldn’t, would, wouldn’t.

I’ve actually seen native speakers mess this up and write ‘should of’ instead of ‘should have’. It makes sense because ‘of’ and ‘have’ can both produce the same single sound, the schwa. Shoulda. But if this sound is following could, couldn’t, should, shouldn’t, would, wouldn’t, the word is definitely ‘have’ and reducing ‘have’ to just the schwa after these words will help your English sound natural. Practice. Couldn’t have. Couldn’t have. Notice I’m dropping the T in the contraction. This is how native speakers will say this phrase. Couldn’t have. Couldn’t have. Special thanks to my dad for being in yet another Rachel’s English video. To see more videos that use real English conversation for teaching, check out my Real English playlist..

As found on Youtube