Tongue Tips Issue 13
Hello!Well, it's been a mighty long time since I sent a newsletter, so here's a quick one with useful links for honing the Standard British dialect, practicing the American accent, outlining a few of my recent activities, and alerting everyone to my appearance on VH1 Thursday night.
Hone Your Received Pronunciation with Oxford University
Follow this link -- http://www.oup.com/elt/global/products/englishfile/elementary/c_pronunciation/ -- to find games and activities from the Oxford University Press. You can compare consonant sounds: look for the unvoiced /th/ sound in "without", the same /th/ sound heard in the word "then." Many Americans use an unvoiced /th/ sound in this word, like in the word "think." Put your hand on your throat to feel the difference while you say the /th/ in each word.
You can also play sound files to hear examples of British English vowels and diphthongs, and try your hand at Stress Monsters. Here you try to shoot a beam at the stressed syllable in increasingly more difficult words. Do you know how the English stress "necessary," "spectator" and "translated"? Answers below.... (Thanks to the members of the American Dialect Society list-server for alerting me to this site)
Online Pronouncing Dictionary and Tools for Learning the American Accent
Merriam-Webster offers a free online pronouncing dictionary at http://www.m-w.com. You can find definitions to many words here as well as hearing them pronounced in an American accent by clicking on the speaker icon. It's very useful for determining stress in multi-syllable words.If you click on "Learner's Dictionary" on the left-hand side of the page, you'll be taken to a new page from which you may subscribe to their free Learner's Word-of-the-Day (http://www.learnersdictionary.com/).
There are also "Perfect Pronunciation" exercises at the bottom of this page, and clicking on "More Exercises" takes you to the Perfect Pronunciation page (http://www.learnersdictionary.com/pron.htm), where you can practice the difference between "ship" and "chip," explore syllable stress (often vexing for non-native English speakers, and occasionally for native speakers), learn about the "oi" sound, as in "coin" and much more. (Thanks to client Carmelita Hughes for the tip about this site.)
Movie Stars, Reality TV and Plays
I've had a very busy few months for me, in spite of the writers' strike and the flagging economy (I'm knocking wood). I worked for the second time with Nicholas Cage on an accent for a film he didn't end up making (also for the second time). I was interviewed by a reporter from Slate.com for a column about why William F. Buckley Jr. talked the way he did. I did ADR sessions (Automated Digital Recording) with English actress Julia Ormond on her American accent for two films. I coached several plays and musicals, including the world premiere of the musical Mask at the Pasadena Playhouse. I gave two seminars for actors at the Screen Actors Guild Foundation: one on the Standard English dialect and one on General American. And I coached the new voice of Volkswagen, Max, the classic Beetle, in his German accent for several TV spots and for their website (http://www.vw.com/vwhype/whatthepeoplewant/en/us/). Details on all this and more may be found at the News page of my site: http://www.thedialectcoach.com/content.asp?contentid=535
I also tried to teach several aspiring child actors a Cockney accent in about four minutes, for the VH1 reality show I Know My Kid's A Star! My efforts may be seen tomorrow night, Thursday 4/17 at 10 PM. And you know how they say the camera adds 10 pounds? Well, several of the crew members were kind enough to lend me several more than that, which I applied directly to my face. More information than you'll ever need is at http://www.vh1.com/shows/dyn/i_know_my_kids_a_star/series.jhtml?source=globalnav
Be well and be in touch--
Best,JoelThe Dialect Coach
Answers: The English say "NECessary," "specTAtor" and "transLAted".