Study conversational English in this interview with NBC Broadcaster Chris Jansing. See how even professionals use reductions and contractions all the time, and learn some new vocabulary.
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Hey guys. Welcome to the new Rachel’s English mini-series, Interview a Broadcaster!
>> Hi guys. I’m here with Chris Jansing. Chris, thank you so much for being here.
>> I’m happy to be here.
>> If you could tell my audience a little bit about what you do.
>> I am an anchor at MSNBC of a show called ‘Jansing and Company’, you’re my company right now.
>> I’m your company.
>> Yes. And I’m also a correspondent for NBC news: Nightly News, the TODAY show.
>> Ok, great. Well, I don’t know if you know this, but another term for the standard American accent is ‘broadcaster English’. So people all over the world look to those who deliver the news in America as a standard for how to speak.
>> I did not know that.
>> So, I’m wondering, where did you come from, and did you have to change anything about your accent as you started to become interested in this field?
>> Very interesting question. I’m from Ohio.
>> Outside of Cleveland-area. Cleveland, for a while, I think, had the largest Hungarian population outside of Budapest. And I come from a Hungarian family.
>> My grandparents spoke Hungarian. Most of the people in the town where I grew up were either Hungarian or Finnish.
>> And, I don’t know that I had to change my accent, but there are quirks whenever you’re going to another language. So, he’ll kill me for telling this story, but my brother, who eventually got a Ph.D. and became a principal of a school was also a football star in high school. And when, he was on this television program, and they asked him, ‘What would you like to do?’, and he said, ‘I want go college’. And,
>> …missed a few words in there.
>> Which is really sort of the direct translation from…
I want go college. We’re missing the word ‘to’ here, twice. Something that has happened to all of us as we study a foreign language: we speak too much in a direct translation of our own language and make grammar mistakes. This can even happen to kids growing up in America in a multilingual household.
>> So did you grow up speaking…
>> Bad English?
>> Well, Hungarian in the home?
>> Uh, when I was very very young,
>> …my mother, my grandmother did not speak English.
>> But now, it’s like most people who speak not very often used languages, which is, I know food, and maybe one or two swear words.
>> Okay. You’ve always got to keep the good stuff.
>> That’s right.
>> So, what do you do then when you’re preparing something to read on camera? How long do you spend with the text, do you have any like tricks that you do as you’re going through the words?
>> I do. I, obviously, want to make it conversational.
Notice how Ms. Jansing says ‘wanna’. I wanna make it conversational. Wanna, gonna, gotta: absolutely acceptable reductions, even in an interview on camera as a professional. In fact, reductions play a large part in the overall character of American English. For example, President Obama used the ‘wanna’ reduction in his reelection speech last year.
>> I, obviously, want to make it conversational [3x]. I want to have a conversation with my audience.
I want to have. Now that she’s stressing ‘want’, she’s not reducing it to ‘wanna’. But notice she is still reducing the word ‘to’, to, to, so that it has the schwa sound.
>> I want to have [3x] a conversation with my audience. I think when I started in this business, which was 35 years ago or so, there was, a sort, of a cadence, and a formality to it. It’s become less formal, more interactive. I think we want the audience to feel engaged. And so, I try to put…
Try to put. There was another ‘to’ reduction. This time with a Flap T. Try to, try to.
>> I try to put [3x] things in the kind of language I speak in. So that if you ask me a question, what’s going on today, I try to tell the story…
Try to tell the story. Another ‘to’ reduction. Try to. Basically, every time we say the word ‘to’ in conversational speech, it’s going to be reduced. I’ll stop pointing them out, but there are more. Will you catch them? If you do, post the sentence with the ‘to’ reduction you’ve found in the comments below.
>> I try to tell [3x] the story in the way that I would tell it to you, standing here…
>> Just a few feet apart.
>> Yeah. So very conversational.
>> We hope.
>> What do you do when you come across a word that you’re not sure how to pronounce?
>> Fake it.
>> Fake it. There. You heard it here.
>> We try, obviously, to look ahead of time. But even—I think especially, because what we do is world news, so there’s a lot of names of people from foreign countries…
>> Right. >> And you think you know the preferred pronunciation, or, we have a preferred pronunciation: Ayman al-Zawahiri. And then you get an expert on the Middle East, and he’ll say, ‘Do you mean Ayman al-Zawahiri?’ So,
>> I think you do the best you can to do the research. And I think because I grew up in an ethnic neighborhood, I have a bit of an ear for it.
>> Mm-hmm, yeah. That could be.
>> Are there any words in American English that you stumble over sometimes, that are a challenge for you?
>> Do you know? I think it’s like anybody else, sometimes when you read something it just doesn’t look right. And it might be a simple word. So, usually it’s something like that, that will trip you up. I do have some pet peeves. Like nuclear, which we know is nuclear. Kind of bug me a little bit.
>> Listening to the pronunciation, I hope, guys!
Nuclear. This is a three-syllable word with stress on the first syllable. DA-da-da. Sometimes even native speakers will mix up the location of the L and say nuk-juh-ler. But it’s nu-cle-ar, nu-cle-ar, nuclear.
>> But, we all do the best we can.
>> You never get it right 100% of the time. Especially with names.
>> Right. Sure, names and places. Um, and do you have a favorite word in American English?
>> Joy. Hey, that’s a great word.
>> It’s easy, it’s simple, and boy, it’s to the point.
>> It is, it is.
‘Joy’ is a one-syllable word. It’s a noun, which makes it a content word. This means it will be stressed in a sentence. So, a little bit longer, louder, and with more shape than the unstressed syllables. It’s made up of the JJ consonant sound and the OY diphthong. J-oy, joy. Make sure to drop your jaw enough for the first sound of the diphthong. Joy.
>> Well, Chris, thank you so much for your expertise
>> Oh, it’s been so much fun.
>> And for coming here, I really appreciate your time.
>> You’re welcome.
>> Guys, check out her show.
>> You’re welcome. Or, Köszönom.
>> I love it. My audience is going to love that.
>> All the Hungarians out there will know what that means.
>> Thank you so much.
Follow Ms. Jansing on Twitter, and check out her segments on TV or online for a great example of American English pronunciation.
>> Alright guys, that’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
Check out all the videos in the Interview a Broadcaster series by clicking here, or on the link in the video description below.