Accent Reduction online by Judy Tobe

August 2011 Archives

How do you pronounce it?

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Dictionary.com is a great website if you are unsure how to pronounce a word in English. It allows you to hear how a word is prounounced and also provides the phonetic spelling. Especially great if you are unsure as to what syllable should be stressed!

Here is a recent blog posting from the dictionary.com website.

Didja ever think that there are ways of speaking that feel perfectly comfortable that would seem wrong if you wrote them down? Sorta like the way this sentence is written. Lemme tell you 'bout this very phenomenon, relaxed pronunciation.

Pronunciation is defined as "the conventional patterns of treatment of the sound and stress patterns of a syllable or word." Relaxed pronunciation, also called word slurring or condensed pronunciation, happens when those syllables are phonetically melded together to create a shortened form of a word or phrase.

Yes, this is similar to a contraction. The difference is, contractions such as "could've" and "should've" are considered part of informal written and spoken language; relaxed pronunciation such as "coulda" and "shoulda," while part of informal speech, has no standard written form.

Common trends of relaxed pronunciation include replacing "you" with "ya" or  "ja" as in "d'ya" (did you) and "wouldja" (would you). Another common practice is to substitute "of," "to", and "have" with a schwa, a mid-central vowel sound that occurs from an unstressed syllable, as in "kinda," "outta," and "sorta."

The writer William Burroughs famously called language "a virus." One way to understand his pronouncement is that, as people use a language, it evolves. Some uses of English that are considered correct today were once frowned upon. Who knows what usage will be acceptable in 100 years? Do you think relaxed pronunciation is ever an acceptable form of speech? Should "didja" and its informal ilk be welcome into mainstream use? Share your opinion, below.

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