Trabalenguas & Tonguetwisters

The plosive /p/

The plosive /p/

Happy summer solstice to you all! Today is officially the longest day of the year for the northern hemisphere but it affects us in no way, so remember that, you superstitious neighbors out there!

This post deals with pronunciation in a fun way: TONGUETWISTERS! And tonguetwisters they are in hipsterish posters that you can use at ReciteThis -quite a recommended webiste. A tonguetwister is a sentence -at times a paragraph- that overuses one or two phonetic groups in order to make more difficult its articulation, sometimes at the cost of logic or coherence.

The first one we have above explores the sound /p/, which  in Englishis much stronger than it is in Spanish. In phonetics it is called a plosive sound since a part of the mouth blocks momentarily and completely the flow of air. Try to read it very slowly at first  and increase speed whenever all the words can be understood. A trick for practicing plosive sounds is to hold a small piece of paper in front of your mouth while you ask the question in the poster. Since the sound is plosive (which sounds like “explossive”), the paper should shake due to air realeased every time the sound /p/ is found.

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¡Feliz solsticio de verano para todos! Oficialmente, hoy es el día más largo del año en el hemisferio norte, pero eso no nos afecta en absoluto. Recuérdenlo, vecinos supersticiosos del mundo.

Esta entrega trata la pronunciación de una forma divertida: ¡TRABALENGUAS! Y son trabalenguas en afiches hipsteriosos que todos podemos usar en ReciteThis – un sitio harto recomendado. Un trabalenguas es una frase -a veces un párrafo entero- que usa en exceso uno o dos grupos fonéticos para dificultar su articulación aún sacrificado su lógica y/o coherencia 

El primero que tenemos en la cabecera de esta entrega explora el sonido /p/, que en inglés es mucho más fuerte que en español. En fonética se llama un sonido oclusivo porque alguna parte de la boca bloquea de forma completa y momentánea el flujo de aire. Intenta leerlo despacio al principio y aumenta la velocidad toda vez que las palabras sean fáciles de discernir. Un truco útil para practicar sonidos oclusivos es sostener una tirita de papel frente a la boca mientras formulas la pregunta del mencionado afiche. Dado que el sonido es algo explosivo, el papel debe sacudirse cada vez que /p/ se pronuncie debido al aire liberado.

La progresión de vocales y consonantes en el español

La progresión de vocales y consonantes en el español

This goes out to all native English speakers who have tuned to English Matsuri as the ideal blog to have a bilingual experience in a fun environment hosted by a yellow bunny called Basil, who is out this week on a well-deserved vacation. Sounds of consonants in Spanish are far more standardized than they are in English. “What does this mean, Fed?” Well. It means that whereas English has strong and soft sounds, Spanish has mild consonants all the way. The “r” between two vowels sounds like second “t” in “Tomato” while the “t” always sounds like the first “t” in “Tomato” and never like the second. Keeping this in mind, go for the tonguetwister above, my mother taught it to me when I was but a young pup.

The soft sound /ʃ/

The soft sound /ʃ/

This is a sound that gives people lots of work sometimes: the combination “sh”. You can go over the specificities of this soft sound in The First Entry of English Matsuri. Go for it!

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Este sonido da problemas de vez en cuando: la combinación “sh” en inglés. Puedes repasar las particularidades de este sonido suave en La Primera Entrega de English Matsuri. ¡Adelante!

The strong sound /tʃ/ and the homophones "wood" and "would"

The strong sound /tʃ/ and the homophones “wood” and “would”

Here is a sound that is the opposite of the previous: this is not soft, it’s strong. This “ch” combination is also plosive. Remember it means that you stop the flow of air and then release it. Think of the onomatopeia of a sneeze: “Atchoo!”  It’s just like that. You can also review it in the aforementioned First Entry.

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Aquí tenemos un sonido que es lo opuesto del anterior: no es suave, es fuerte. Esta combinación “ch” también es oclusiva. Recordemos que eso significa que detienes el flujo del aire y luego lo liberas. Piensa en la onomatopeya de un estornudo: “¡Achú!” Así es. También puedes repasarlo en la Primera Entrega que citamos previamente.

El sónido abierto /ɔ/

El sónido abierto /ɔ/

The letter “o” in Spanish is always open and has no blend with other sound. That is to say, it never sounds like the vowels in “Doe”, it sounds much more like the vowels in “though”. Have at it!

La "r" española precedida de consonante.

La “r” española precedida de consonante.

Now, remember how we said that the letter “r” in Spanish when between vowels sounds like the second “t” in “Tomato”? Well, it sounds the same when after a consonant. Try the tonguetwister above!

Long and short sounds: /i/ and /ɪ/

Long and short sounds: /i/ and /ɪ/

In English there are different combinations that amount to the sound of “i” in Spanish: there is “i” (tit), “ey” (key), “ei” (ceiling), “ee” (feel), “ie” (piece) and “ea” (speak). These are many times case-specific and rules have been built and brought down. Normally, if an “i” is followed by two consonants, it is a short sound; “ee”, “ea”, “ei”, “ey” and “ie” are longer. So, try it out with this last tonguetwister.

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En inglés hay distintas combinaciones que equivalen al sonido de la “i” en español: hay “i” (tit – herrerillo), “ey” (key – llave), “ei” (ceiling – cielorraso), “ee” (feel – sentir), “ie” (piece – trozo), y “ea” (speak – hablar). Muchas veces la pronunciación es dada por el caso específico y hay reglas que han sido dictadas y derrocadas al respecto. Por lo regular si una “i” está seguida por dos consonantes, se trata de un sonido corto; “ee”, “ea”, “ei”, “ey” y “ie” son más largos. Ahora inténtalo con el último trabalenguas.

3 thoughts on “Trabalenguas & Tonguetwisters

  1. I am glad you have enjoyed it. Is there a topic you’d like me to discuss in a coming post?

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