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Unit 31. Average, Novelist, Happening.

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Words that Lose a Syllable

Unit 31; Part A

 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
In some words, vowels tend to be left out in conversation. When this happens, the word loses an unstressed syllable:
         average     novelist       happening
 
Some dictionaries show that the vowel
/∂/ can be left out using the symbol :
             /ævrιd3/    /novlist/    /hæpnιη/
 

It is not necessary to leave these vowels out in your own speech in order to be understood, but leaving them out can make your speech sound more fluent and natural, and being aware of these changes can help you understand rapid speech.

Unit 31; Part B

 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
Most vowels left out in this way come befor /r/, /l/ or /n/.

Before /r/ 
considerable    
favourable 
miserable 
 

directory 
history  
preferable    

battery    
discovery    
mystery    

dictionary   
imaginary   
secondary    

conference   
difference   
reference    

favourite
interest
restaurant
Before /l/
accidentally    
especially       
partially 
   
 
carefully   
dreadfully   
thankfully   

family   
marvellous   
specialist    
Before /n/
educational 
national   
personal  
 

deafening   
frightening   
gardening    

definite
prisoner
traditional
 

note.jpgNote: Some other words with these endings rarely lose a syllable (e.g. theory, cookery, formally, and some words with these endings almost always lose a syllable (e.g. historically, politically, technically.)

Unit 31; Part C

 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
In a few words left-out vowels come before sounds other than /r/, /l/ and /n/. For example:
        government    medicine    vegetable
 
 

Unit 31; Part D

 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
In a few two-syllable words with stress on the second syllable, the first vowel is often left out in rapid speech so that the word is said with only one syllable:


I don't believe you.
/bli:v/       What's the correct answer? /krekt/
It's the police. /pli:s/       I suppose so. /sp∂uz/
 

Unit 31; Part E

 
idea.jpgImportant for listening!
A few words lose their first syllable completely in rapid speech:
 About five o'clock.
I bought it because it was cheap.
I've invited everyone except Jack.


When these words are written to represnt speech
(for example in novels) this pronunciation is sometimes indicated: 'bout, 'cause, 'cept
 
 

 



Exercises

flag.jpgComplete these sentences using the pairs of words below. (Notice that you may need to change the order of the words.)
Key.1 interest - traditional
2 considerable - difference
3 miserable - secondary
4 frightening - discovery
5 prisoner - mystery
6 carefully - directory
7 thankfully - battery
8 accidentally - deafening

frightening - discovery   
restaurant - favourite   
interest - traditional    
considerable - difference   
mystery - prisoner   
carefully - directory    
thankfully - battery
deafening - accidentally
secondary - miserable

31.1.jpgExample: Carlo's is my  favourite  Italian  restaurant .
1    When she lived in Shanghai she developed an __________ in __________ Chinese medicine.
2    The two cars seem identical, but there is a __________ __________ in how much they cost.
3    I had a __________ time in __________ school.
4    When he opened the door he made a __________ __________.
5    The __________ escaped and where he's gone is a complete  __________.
6    I checked __________ in the __________, but couldn't find his number.
7    The torch didn't work, but __________ I had a spare __________ in the kitchen.
8    When I __________ pressed the button there was a __________ bang.

Now listen and check your answers. Then read aloud the sentences making sure you pronounce the words you have written with the appropriate vowels left out.
 
flag.jpgListen to the words in the box said slowly and carefully and write the number of syllables you hear:
Key.31.5.jpg
 
memory 3    formally    loyally    suppose    anniversary    police     machinery    technically    delivery    medicine    geometrically     perhaps    historically    nursery
 

flag.jpgListen to the words from exercise 2 used in sentences. Again, write the number of syllables you hear. Is this the same number as in exercise 2 (write S) or a different number (write D)?
Key.31.6.jpg
Examples: I must be losing my memory. 2 D     He was dressed formally. 3 S
1    He supported her loyally.
2    I suppose not.
3    It's our wedding anniversary.
4    The police arrived.
5    The machinery broke down.
6    It's technically very advanced.
7    There's a special delivery for you.
8    I'm taking cough medicine.
9    It was geometrically patterned.
10   Perhaps you're right.
11   The play is historically accurate.
12   She goes to a nursery.

Now check your answers in the Key. Then say the sentences aloud, leaving out syllables where appropriate.

flag.jpgHere are some extracts from books. Read aloud the quoted speech as it is written.
Key.Left-hand extract from Popcorn by Ben Elton.
Middle extract from The Scholar. A West-side story by Courttia Newland.
Right-hand extract from The Echo by Minette Waiters.


'Well, no one's making any calls,        
and no one's sending no faxes
either, so I guess you'll just have
to start thinking 'bout being
poor. So there!!'
'.., I jus' felt I had to warn you,         
cause it don't look too healthy,
y'unnersan'?...'

"He tried once or twice;' said the
boy dismissivel, "but he couldn't see
well enough to teach anything 'cept
what was in his head..."
 

Follow up: If someone said 'scuseme' to you, what might they want you to do?


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