22 December 2012

Poem for Pronunciation Practice

Poem for Pronunciation Practice

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.
A Frenchman who tried said he'd prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud.

Try them ........Dearest creature in creation,

Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.

I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;

Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,

Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;

One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation' s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,

Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.

Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.

Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.

Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;

Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.

Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.

Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.

Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.

Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.?
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,

Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?

Won't it make you lose your wits?
Writing groats and saying grits?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,

Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?

Hiccough has the sound of cup.

My advice is to give up!


ACCENT / STRESS and Intonation

Stress or Accent

There are two different kinds of stress in English, word stress and sentence stress. Both are essential to communicate meaning satisfactorily and both cause many foreign learners of English considerable problems.

a) Sound and syllable: Speech sounds are put together into syllables and syllables into words which in turn are combined into sentences. A syllable may consist of one speech sound or more. Nevertheless, it does not have more than one vowel sound. A vowel sound, as a matter of fact, forms the nucleus of a syllable. Therefore, a word has as many syllables as there are vowel sounds in it.

b) Syllable division of words: English words consist of one or more syllables. Each syllable contains a vowel. A syllable may have one or more consonants before and/or after it. Thus, in the word ‘teach’ there is only one syllable, whereas the word ‘tea-cher’ has two syllables. In the examples that follow the letter V represents a vowel sound and the letter C represents a consonant sound.

Words of one syllable
                      or                    V
                      my                   CV
                      aim                  VC
                      bit                    CVC
                      scratched       CCCVCC

Words of two syllables
                      tapers             CVCVC
                      matchbox       CVCCVC
language         CVCCVC

Words of more than two syllables
                        examination   VCCVCVCVCVC

Concept of Word-stress – its importance

The syllables of a word can be spoken with more or less force or emphasis. Where a syllable is spoken with emphasis, it is said to be stressed. Syllables that are not spoken with emphasis are unstressed. Not all syllables in an utterance are spoken with equal emphasis. There are certain syllables that are stressed more than others. Thus in the word ‘father’, the first syllable ‘fa-’ is stressed and so,  is spoken more prominently than the second syllable ‘-ther’. Similarly, in the word ‘about’, the second syllable is stressed and so, is spoken more prominently than the first syllable. We shall now look at some common words to note the syllabic stress patterns. The accent mark is put before the syllable stressed.


Stress in English words varies from word to word. In some words, the stress falls on the first syllable while in other, it may fall on the second, third, or the fourth syllable.
Here are a few examples of words stressed on different syllables:
(i)      Words stressed on the first syllable:
Two-Syllable            Three-Syllable         Longer Words
'husband                    'literature                   'aristocrat
'stomach                     'character                   'benefactor
'dozen                         'advertise                   'chauvinism
'stupid                         'industry                     'melancholy
'splendid                    'atmosphere              'pomegranate

(ii)      Words stressed on the second syllable:
Two-syllable              Three-syllable           Longer words
nar'rate                      ap'pendix                   par'ticipant
bal'loon                      ef'ficient                     ri'diculous
be'gin                          de'velop                     re'sponsible
draw'ee                      sa'liva                         ap'preciate
ru'pee                         an'tenna                     rhi'noceros
(iii)     Words stressed on the third syllable:

Three-Syllable         Four-Syllable          Five-Syllable

guaran'tee                  appli'cation               irre'proachable
ciga'rette                    appo'sition                irre`'sponsible
engi'neer                    appa'ratus                 satis'factory
remi'nisce                  corre'spondence      irre'pressible
corre'spond                                                   elec'tricity
(iv)     Words stressed on the fourth syllable:
dedica'tee                   civili'zation
exami'nation              mechani'zation
partici'pation             inferi'ority
The above lists clearly show that stress in English words has to be learnt individually.
Here is a list of words consisting of varying number of syllables and having different stress patterns. Listen to them on the tape and practice saying them with the stress as marked.

Words consisting of two syllables:
Stress on first syllable                   Stress on second syllable
`bargain                                              ad`mit
`govern                                               for`bid
`thorough                                           bam`boo
`secret                                                 mon`soon
`message                                            suc`ceed
`canvas                                               sup`press
`injure                                                 dis`miss         

Words consisting of three syllables:
 Stress on first syllable        Stress on second syllable                    Stress on third syllable
`illustrate                          ad`venture                                recol`lect
`recipe                              spec`tator                                 briga`dier
`tentative                          po`tato                                      question`naire
`obstacle                           ad`dition                                     person`nel
`cemetery                         re`vision                                     coin`cide
`symmetry                        um`brella                                 addres`see

Words consisting of more than three syllables:
Stress on first
Stress on second syllable
Stress on third syllable


Stress on

fourth syllable




Therefore, stress in English is difficult to explain and to indicate any rules for stressing individual words is all the more difficult. However, a few general guidelines may be given as follows:

Functional shift of stress

There are a number of words of two syllables in which the accentual pattern depends on whether the word is used as a noun, an adjective or a verb. When the word is used as a noun or an adjective, the stress is on the first syllable. When the word is used as a verb, the stress is on the second syllable. Here are a few examples:

Noun/ Adjective                             Verb
'absent                                                ab'sent
'object                                                    ob'ject
'subject                                                 sub'ject
'permit                                               per'mit
'record                                                    re 'cord
'progress                                              pro'gress
'produce                                            pro'duce
'perfect                                                per'fect
'increase                                              in'crease
'decrease                                           de'crease
'present                                             pre'sent

Words with prefixes/suffixes; their stress patterns:
Words with weak prefixes are accented on the root.
a'rise         a’bout              be'low         be'hold             com'pose
a'lone      a'bove           be'come       be'lieve            de'velop
a'loud      ac'cept          be'fall           be'side               re'duce

Prefixes with negative connotations are stressed.
      'disloyal                      'illogical   
      'insincere                   'half-finished
Verbs of two syllables beginning with the prefix dis- are stressed on the last syllable.
dis'arm                 dis'may
dis'band               dis'pel
dis'cern                dis'miss
dis'close               dis'solve
dis'count              dis'tend
dis'grace              dis'turb
dis'guise               dis'tress

Verbs of two syllables ending in -ate, -ise/-ize, -ct are stressed on the last syllable.

-ate                        -ize/-ise             -ct
nar'rate                    cap'size        in'fect
vib'rate                 chas'tise           select
mi'grate                    bap'tize        pro'tect                        
lo'cate                          com'prise     de'pict     

Words ending in -ion are stressed on the penultimate i.e. last but one syllable

 appli'cation                 indi'gestion
civili'zation                 con'gestion
compo'sition              sug'gestion
conver'sation             'question
culti'vation                   imagi'nation
exami'nation                         intro'duction

Words ending in -ic/-ical/-ically/ -ial/-ially/ -ian have the stress on the syllable preceding the suffix.

-ic                                                         -ical                                                       -ically
apolo'getic           patri'otic          apolo'getical                                       apolo'getically
e'lectric                 scien'tific
-ial                                          -ially                                                    -ian
 me'morial         es'sential          of'ficially                                            vic'torian
 of'ficial                  super'ficial       'specially                                            politician
presi'dential cere'monial       es'sentially                                         disciplin'arian
Words ending in -ious. -eous have the stress on the penultimate (i.e., the last but one) syllable.
-ious                                                     -eous
'anxious                                               'piteous               
in'dustrious                                        cou'rageous
in'jurious                                            'gorgeous
la'borious                                            'hideous
re'bellious                                           'righteous                 
vic'torious                                           simul'taneous                                   
Words ending in -ate,-ise/-ize, -ify, -ity, -cracy, -crat, -graph, -graphy, -meter, -logy
Words of more than two syllables ending in ate, -ise/-ize, -ify are stressed on the ante-penultimate syllable (i.e., third from the end).















Words ending in -ity have the stress on the ante-penultimate syllable
 (i.e., third from the end)
a'bility            curi'osity        elec'tricity      gene'rosity
possi'bility      proba'bility    ac'tivity           e'quality
Words ending in -cracy. -crat have the stress on the ante-penultimate syllable
 (i.e., third from the end).
-cracy                                    -crat
au'tocracy                             'autocrat
dc'mocracy                            'democrat
tech'nocracy                         'technocrat
plu'tocracy                            'plutocrat
aris'tocracy                           a'ristocrat     
bu'reaucracy                         'bureaucrat

Words ending in -graph, -graphy. -meter, -logy have the stress on the ante-penultimate syllable (i.e., third from the end).
   -graph             -graphy                 -meter                          -logy
   'autograph        pho'tography              ther'mometer    psychology
   'paragraph        spec'trography                lac'tometer        bi'ology
   'photograph      bi'ography           di'ameter           zo'ology
Words stressed on the suffix:
Words ending with the suffixes –ain, -eer. -ental. -ential. -ese, -esce, -escence. -escent. -esque. -ique, -itis. -ee. -ette -ade etc. are stressed on the suffix.
-ain                                    -aire                                                  -eer
ob'tain       re'tain                 millio'naire                              engi'neer   mountai'neer
ex'plain              question'naire                          volun'teer  marke'teer
ascer'tain                                                             car'eer
-ental                                 -ential                                          -ese






































con'crete (v)









Sentence Stress

Connected speech in English has its own patterns of accent. Words that are important for meaning – content words like nouns, adjectives, principal verbs and adverbs – are generally accented. Grammatical words like articles, personal and relative pronouns, auxiliary verbs, prepositions and conjunctions are generally not accented.
 The situation is complicated by the fact that sentences, too, are stressed to underline their meaning. Sentence stress is very important since we use it to communicate part of the meaning of the sentence. It also determines the rhythm of our speech.  Normally, certain words in a sentence are spoken more loudly than the others. In the  sentence ------ We are going to Spain for a holiday.------- the word Spain takes the primary stress, if the sentence is spoken in normal circumstances. However, when the speaker wishes to emphasize the fact that they are travelling to Spain for a holiday and not on business, the sentence may be spoken like this, stressing the last part of the sentence ------ We are going to Spain on a holiday.


 To enable the learners familiarize themselves with the use of the tunes/tones. We have already seen the vibrating glottis which provides, in sounds, the voiced-voiceless distinction. However, it has another important role to play in continuous speech, i.e., it provides pitch fluctuation. By pitch fluctuation, we mean that the pitch of the voice is continually in the process of either falling or rising while we are talking. In fact, it never remains constant for more than a fraction of a second. Pitch fluctuation is found in the speech of all communities. It is not a random fluctuation but follows well-defined melodic patterns, which are meaningful.


The pitch of the voice is determined by the frequency of the vibration of the vocal cords, i.e., the number of times they open and close in a second. The patterns of variation of the pitch of the voice (i.e., the fall or the rise) constitute the intonation of a language. If you say, Put it down! the pitch of your voice will move from a high level to a low level. This is called the falling tone. It can be illustrated thus:
Put it
If you say the same sentence with a rising tone the pitch of your voice will move from low to high, as shown below:

              Put it                           d

Tune/tone shapes
The number of important words in a word group decides the shape of a tune (tone) and by the attitude you wish to express. By important words, we mean the words which carry most of the meaning in a group. For example, in answer to the question "How was Sheila?” you say, "She was in an appallingly bad temper” - the first four words are not especially helpful to the meaning, i.e., they are not important. But the last three words are important: each of them adds to the picture you are giving of Sheila. Let us see how it might be said:
      She was in an appallingly bad
So the most important word in this group is temper and this decides the shape of the tune.
Before we talk about the speakers' attitude(s) let’s see what runes you must learn to use while speaking English. We cannot teach you all the tunes that English speakers use, but we will describe the ones that we feel you must know.

The falling tune

The falling tune is sometimes referred to as the glide-down. It consists of a fall in the pitch of the voice from a high level to a low level. It is marked [ \   ].
       The falling tune is normally used in:
1.      Ordinary statements made without any implications, e.g.:
a. I 'liked it very \ much             
b. It was 'quite \ good.
2.      Questions beginning with a question-word such as what, how, where, why, etc., when said in a neutral way, e.g.:
a. 'Who were you \ talking to?
b. 'What's the \ matter?
3.   Commands, e.g.:
a.  'Go and 'open the \window.
b. 'Take it a\way.
4.     Exclamations, e.g.:
a.      \Splendid!
b.     \How extraordinary!
5.   Question tags: when the speaker expects the listener to agree with him, e.g.:
a.      It’s pleasant to'day, \isn't it?
b.     It was a 'good film, \wasn't it?
6.     Rhetorical questions, e.g., where the answer is obvious:
a.      Isn't that\ kind of her?
b.     Wasn't that a \difficult exam?

The rising tune

The rising tune is sometimes referred to as the glide-up. It consists of a rise in the pitch of the voice from a low level to a high level.   It is marked /  )
The rising tune is normally used in:
    1.   Incomplete statements, e.g.:
a.      It's 'seven ‘o  /  clock (and she hasn't got up as yet.)
b.     I'll 'buy you a  /dress (if I go there.)
    2.    Polarity type questions which demand a yes/no answer, e.g.:
a.      'Are they  /  coming?
b.     'Will you / do it?
    3.   Non-polarity (wh-type) questions when said in a warm/friendly way, e.g.:
a.      'How's your / daughter?
b.     'What's the / matter?
    4.    Polite requests, e.g.:
a.   'Go and 'open the / window.
b.   'Take it a /way.
    5.  Question tags: when the speaker gives his/her listener the option to disagree with  him/her, 
             a.   You're a \ gardener, /aren't you?        
             b.   It was a \good \ film, /wasn't it?
    6.    Repetition questions, e.g.:
                    (John told me to do it.) Who told /you?
     7.  Expected responses, e.g.:
  / Thank you.
(If you wish to express real gratitude, you should say thank you with a falling tune. A rising tune shows a rather casual acknowledgement of something not very important.)
    8.    Alternative questions, e.g.:
a.        Do you like / tea, / coffee or \ coke?
b.        'Shall we / drive or go by \train?
    9.    Enumeration, e.g.:
One /  two, three, four, \five.
    10. Afterthought, doubt, hesitation, e.g.:
a.       I'd 'buy a \new one, if I could af ford it.
b.      In 'spring it 'rains a \lot, / generally.
    11. Greetings, partings, apologies, encouragement, e.g.:
a.       Hel/lo.
b.      Good /bye.
c.       I'm so /sorry,
d.      You ought to keep on / trying.

The falling-rising tune

The last of the tunes that you must learn is the falling-rising tune. This tune is sometimes referred to as the dive. It consists of a fall from high to low and then a rise to the middle of the voice. This tune can be used on either one syllable or different syllables of a word or sentence. It can be illustrated thus:

1. That was n                         c

                                                                                           y   of them.
                        2. There were   s    e           e
3.  T                                                                   e
                                      h                                                    c
                                           a                                          i
                                                t                                n
If the fall is on one syllable and the rise begins on a later syllable it is referred to as a divided fall-rise. Sentence 3 is an example of this.
The fall-rise can be marked in two ways. If the tune is used on one syllable it is marked (     )
e.g.,   seventy.
If the tune is used on different syllables of a word it is marked (             )
e.g.,   seventy.
If the fall-rise is used on two different words in a sentence it is marked as in the following example:
\That was, nice.
The falling-rising tune is normally used for special implications not verbally expressed. For example if you say
She’s \beautiful
With a falling tune you mean precisely that. But if you say the same sentence with a falling-rising tune
She’s  beautiful
You imply something-perhaps that she is beautiful, but not intelligent.
Consider the following examples in which the falling –rising tune is used to convey special implications, e.g.:
a.       I am waiting (so do hurry up).
b.      I haven’t much appetite (but I’ll join you to be polite).
c.       The ‘houses are nice (but perhaps to people are not).
This tune can also be used for correcting what someone has said and as a warning, e.g.:
a.       (He’s forty-five.) Forty- six.
b.      (I like him a lot.) You used to like him
c.       ‘Please be careful.


Spoken English by BalasubramanyamSpoken English by Peter RoachSpoken English by R.K. BansalCourse on Spoken English published by CIFEL


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