English Pronunciation Study: What did you do Today?

In this American English pronunciation exercise, we’re going to study some conversation. Today it’s going to be a Ben Franklin exercise, where we analyze the speech together. Today’s topic: what did you do today? Great. Let’s get started. >> Tom, what did you do today? Tom, what did you do today? Lots of interesting things happening here. I noticed first of all that I’ve dropped the T here: what did, what did, what did you do? I’m also noticing I’m getting more of a J sound here, j-ou, j-ou.

Whuh-dih-jou, dih-jou. So the D and the Y here are combining to make the J sound. So we have wuh-dih-jou, what did you [3x]. Tom, what did you do today? The other thing I notice is that the T here is really more of a flap sound, a D, do duh-, do duh-, do today, this is most definitely a schwa, so we’re reducing this unstressed syllable to be the schwa. Today, today, do today, to today. Tom, what did you do today? >> Tom, what did you do today? >> Today? >> Today. >> Today I woke up… Now here we have ‘today’ three times. Always, the first syllable is reduced to the schwa sound, but I’m noticing that these T’s are all True T’s, and not Flap T’s. That’s because they are beginning sentences. So, we’re not going to reduce that to a Flap T. In the case up here, ‘do today’, it came, the T in ‘today’, came in between a vowel, ‘do’, the OO vowel, and the schwa sound. And that’s why we made this a flap sound. But here we’re beginning a sentence, so we’re going to go ahead and give it the True T sound—though we will most definitely reduce to the schwa.

Today. >> Today? >> Today. [3x] >> Tom, what did you do today? >> Today? >> Today. >> Today I woke up… Everything was very connected there, and I know that when we have something ending in a vowel or diphthong sound, and the next word beginning in a vowel or diphthong sound, that we want that to really glide together, today I [3x]. And anytime we have a word that begins with a vowel, we want to say, hmm, does the word before end in a consonant sound? It does.

It ends in the K consonant sound, woke up, woke up. So, to help us link, we can almost think of it as beginning the next word, wo-kup, woke up. Today I woke up. >> Today? >> Today. >> Today I woke up, and I went for a run. And I went for a run. Tom dropped the D here, connected this word ‘and’ to ‘I’, ‘and I’ [3x] This was the schwa sound, so he’s reduced ‘and’. And I, and I, and I went for a run. For a, for a. Tom reduced the vowel in the word ‘for’ to the schwa. And we’ve connected these two function words together, for a, for a, for a, this is also a schwa. For a, for a, for a run, for a run, and I went for a run. Can you pick out the two stressed words here? Went, run. Those are the words that have the most shape in the voice. The most length: and I went for a run.

And I went for a run. Again, he’s got the intonation going up here at the end, because, comma, he’s giving us a list here. And there’s more information about to come. >> Today I woke up, and I went for a run. [3x] And, um, then I just worked. And, um… Now here, Tom did pronounce the D, he linked it to the next word, beginning with a vowel, which is just this thought-word that we say when we’re thinking, and um, and um. Again, the intonation of the voice is going up at the end, and um, signaling, comma, not a period, more information coming. And, um, [3x] then I just worked. Worked, worked, then I just worked. Here, finally, we have the intonation of the voice going down at the end. So we know, period, end of the sentence, end of the thought. Then I: he connected this ending consonant to the beginning vowel, the diphthong ‘ai’, I, to smooth that out. Then I, then I, then I just worked. Did you notice? Tom dropped the T here.

We did not get ‘just worked’, ‘just worked’. He didn’t release it. This happens often when we have a word that ends in a cluster with a T when the next word also begins with a consonant. In these cases, often, the T will get dropped. I just worked. [3x] Do you notice that the -ed ending is pronounced as a T sound. That’s because the sound before, the K, is unvoiced. So this ending will also be unvoiced. Worked, worked. …and I went for a run. And, um, then I just worked. [3x] >> So, where do you run? So, where do you run? Now, this is a question, but did you notice the intonation went down at the end? Run, run. That’s because it’s a question that cannot be answered with just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Yes/no questions go up in pitch at the end. All other questions tend to go down in pitch at the end. Where do you run? Do you hear the stressed words in that question? Where, run. So, where do you run? Longer words, more up/down shape of the voice.

Where, run. So where do you run? >> So, where do you run? [3x] >> I run in Fort Greene Park. What do you hear as being the stressed syllables there? >> I run in Fort Greene Park. [3x] I run in Fort Greene Park. I hear da-da-da-DAA-DAA-DAA. Definitely I hear ‘Fort’, ‘Greene’, and ‘Park’ all being longer, all having that shape in the voice. I run in Fort Greene Park. Also, ‘I’ is a little more stressed than ‘run in’. I, I, DA-da-da, DA-da-da, I run in, I run in, run in, run in. So those two words are really linked together because we have and ending consonant and a beginning vowel. Run in, run in, I run in, I run in Fort Greene Park.

>> I run in Fort Greene Park. [3x] In Brooklyn. In Brooklyn. Brooklyn, a two syllable word. One of the syllables will be stressed. What do you hear as being stressed? Brooklyn, Brooklyn. Definitely it’s that first syllable. Brook-, Brook-, Brooklyn, Brooklyn. >> In Brooklyn. [3x] >> So, what are you doing after this? So, what are you doing after this? How was I able to say so many words quickly, but still be clear? First of all, I’m dramatically reducing the word ‘are’ to the schwa-R sound, er, er.

That means the T here is now coming between two vowel sounds, and I’m making that a flap T sound, which sounds like the D between vowels. What are [3x]. Also the word ‘you’ is unstressed, so it’s going to be in that same line, what are you [4x], very fast, quite flat, lower in volume. What are you doing? Now here we have a stressed word, do-, doing. Doing, what are you doing? Do you hear how the syllable ‘do’ sticks out of that phrase more than anything else? What are you doing? [2x] After this. Another stressed word here. >> So, what are you doing after this? [5x] >> After this, nothing. Tom’s speaking a little bit more slowly than I am here. After this, nothing. We have two 2-syllable words here. Which syllable is stressed? Let’s take first the word ‘after’. If you think you hear the first syllable as being stressed, you’re right. Af-, after, -ter, -ter, -ter. The second syllable: very low in pitch, flat, and quick.

After. What about the word ‘nothing’? Again, it’s the first syllable. ING endings, even though this isn’t an ING verb, will be unstressed. Nothing, no-, no-, nothing. >> After this, nothing. [3x] >> No plans. >> No plans. Nothing reduces in this phrase. I’m really hearing this as two different stressed words. They’re both one syllable, no plans. No plans. >> No plans. >> No plans. [3x] >> Should we get dinner? >> Yeah. Should we get dinner? One of the things that I notice is that I’m dropping the D sound: should we, should we. Should we get [3x]. That’s helping me say this less-important word even faster. Should we get dinner? >> Should we get dinner? [3x] I notice that the T here is a Stop T, I don’t release it.

It’s not ‘get dinner’, it’s get, get, get, get dinner, get dinner. Should we get dinner? >> Should we get dinner? [3x] Do you notice, in this question my voice does go up in pitch at the end. Dinner, dinner. That’s because this is a yes/no question. Pitch goes up. Should we get dinner? Yeah. As you probably know, a more casual way to say ‘yes’.

Should we get dinner? Yeah. >> Should we get dinner? >> Yeah. Working this way with any video or audio clip can help improve your listening comprehension and your pronunciation. That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English..

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