Learning a new language can be difficult. We often wonder why it seems easier for some people, for some nationalities, to understand English better than for other speakers. The level of difficulty depends on various aspects but, most definitely, one of them is whether your first language is syllable-timed (giving syllables equal prominence) or stress-timed ( temporal duration between two stressed syllables is the same ). English, as well as Danish, Swedish or German, are stress-timed languages whereas Spanish, French or Cantonese Chinese are syllable-timed.
♥Content and Function Words. This is important because we, as Spaniards, try to give equal importance to each syllable but in English, only some words in a sentence are considered important and therefore pronounced with more emphasis (Content words) while others are quickly spoken (Function words) some would say, swallowed.
Look at these two sentences. Although the first has 7 words and the second 12, it should take you the same amount of time to read both sentences. Why? Because as English is a time stressed language there is always the same distance between two stressed words.
Peter said horrible things about your mother.
He left after dinner taking most of his books in his suitcase.
♥ Another thing to take into consideration is Linking. Words , when they are pronounced in isolation do not sound the same as when pronounced in a sentence. Why? Because of this linking.
Linking occurs in English in these situations:
–Consonant+ vowel : when a word ends with a consonant sound and the next one starts with a vowel sound, we, very often, link them
Liked it | ˈlaɪktɪt |
And I /ən´aɪ |
–Vowel+ Vowel : when one word ends with a vowel sound and the next word begins with a vowel sound, we link the words with a sort of W or Y sound.
To simplify :
♥ If our lips are round at the end of the first word, we insert a W sound: Ex: do it /du:wɪt/
♥ If our lips are wide at the end of the first word, we insert a Y sound: Ex: Ray is /reɪyɪz/
– And then we have the Linking “r” for example, the “r” in “here” would not be pronounced in “Here they are ” (because it is followed by a consonant), but it would be pronounced in “Here I am”. Likewise, the “r” at the end of “far” would only be pronounced if the next word begins with a vowel, as in “far away” /fa:r∂wei/ or” far off”. /fa:rof/
Listen to these sentences and repeat after them paying attention to the linkings. linking.mp3
Not at all
Isn’t it a pity
Ian’s wearing odd socks?
Was ever a bride so pretty?
♥To be honest, I am not a big fan of Katy Perry but her song I kissed a Girl is great to practise Content and Function Words and the chorus is just the perfect example to make students understand the issue of Linking Words and Function Words; by singing along Katy Perry” I kissed a girl and I liked it “, they’ll be practising linking words and weak forms without effort .