Although we commonly talk about 'English pronunciation', obviously notall speakers of English pronounce it in the same way. Even betweencountries where English is the frst language of the majority of thepopulation there are considerable differences, and we can distinguishbetween the pronunciation of 'British English', 'American English','Australian English', 'South African English', and so on.
Important for listening! Across these varieties of English, there may be differences in howvowels and consonants are pronounced, how words are stressed, and inintonation. For example, listen and notice differences between standardBritish English (Br) and American English (US) pronunciation in thesesentences (you will hear British English first):
In US /t/ is 'flapped' so that it sounds like /d/ when it comes between two vowels.
I'm picking up the car next Tuesday.
car = /ka:/ in Br and /ka:r/ in US. In Br, /r/ is pronounced only when it is followed by a vowel, while in US it is also pronounced
before consonants and at the end of a word .
Tuesday = /tju:-/ in Br and /tu:-/ in US. The sounds /tj/, /nj/, /dj/, etc. are not used in US.
What's your address?
Some words are stressed differently in Br and US, including a'ddress (Br) and 'address (US).
I went out because I was hot and wanted some fresh air.
Some speakers of US (and also Australian and New Zealand English) use a'high rising' tone for statements where most speakers of Br would use afalling tone.
Within Britain and the US there are also many regional accents.For example, listen and notice differences in pronunciation in thesesentences, said first by a speaker of 'BBC English' (see Unit 2 ) andthen by a speaker from the city of Birmingham in England (you will hearBBC English first):
See you tonight.
The second vowel in 'tonight' is pronounced /ai/ in BBC English but /oi/ (as in 'boy') in a Birmingham accent.
Are those your brother's?
The vowel in 'those' is pronounced /∂υ/ in BBC English but more like /aυ/ (as in 'now') in a Birmingham accent. The first vowel in 'brother's' is pronounced /Λ/ (as in 'but') in BBC English but /υ/ (as in 'would') in a Birmingham accent.
She was smoking.
The last sound in -ing words is /η/ in BBC English, but /ηg/ in a Birmingham accent, i.e. the -g is pronounced.
Here is a text read aloud first by a British English speaker andthen an American English speaker. Listen as many times as you need andnote differences in pronunciation that you observe, focusing on theunderlined words. A few are done for you. (It is not necessary to usephonemic symbols in this exercise.) Key.
You will hear four more people talking about what they enjoy doingin their spare time. They are from northern England, Scotland, Walesand Northern Ireland. Listen as many times as you need and write briefnotes about what they say.
Now read the transcripts in the Key. Are there particular features oftheir pronunciation that you had problems understanding? In what waysis their pronunciation different from BBC English - that is, BritishEnglish spoken without a regional accent (see Unit 2)?
Follow up:Record yourself reading one of the extracts in exercise 1 (These arewritten down in the Key.) Compare your reading and the version on therecording. What are the main differences in pronunciation that younotice?