Celebrate Easter with me and learn some American English pronunciation, including the shift in the AA vowel when followed by the nasal consonant M, like in ‘ham’.
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>> Hi Ben.
>> Hello Rachel.
>> Happy Easter. >> Happy Easter.
>> Ben brought a ham for us to eat.
>> I brought a ham.
>> Ben brings a ham every year because he’s a dear. And I don’t mean \deer the animal, I mean dear, D-E-A-R, a kind and thoughtful person. ‘Dear’ and ‘deer’ are homophones. >> What is this, Ben? >> This is a ham. And it is made with pineapple and brown sugar.
>> Oh, delicious. Ham. This is a teachable moment. >> Here comes the ham. Now the word ham —
>> (it’s really hot)
>> — is an interesting word because it’s the AA as in BAT vowel followed by a nasal consonant, in this case, M. So even though it’s written in IPA just with the H consonant, AA vowel, and M consonant, it’s not actually pronounced that way. That . But we say, ha-uh-m. And there’s that UH sound that’s not accounted for in IPA: aa-uh, aa-uh. Ham. So, if you add this UH sound to your AA vowel, you’ll sound much more American. Other examples, camera. AA-UH-M. Cam-, Camera. This is also true if the sound after the AA is the N sound. For example, ‘ant’. AA-UHnt. Ant. Now, one last thing. If the AA vowel is followed by the NG consonant, then it changes also, but, in a different way. In that case it becomes a sound more like the ‘ay’ diphthong, ay. For example, in the word ‘thanks’: thanks. Or, bank, bank. So pronounce your AA vowel this way when it’s followed by N, M, or NG.
>> Michelle, what are you working on here?
>> I’m making Eggs Benedict.
>> So I’m poaching eggs —
>> And then making them with salmon and spinach.
>> Oh, that looks delicious.
>> Jovon’s always taking pictures. It’s a good thing I’m used to the camera, right? So this is what I made for our meal. Some green—it probably doesn’t look as good under plastic, eh? Some asparagus. I roasted it yesterday, gonna serve it chilled with a dijon vinaigrette. Yum.
>> What did you make, Kate?
>> I made Easter egg chocolate / peanut butter candy.
>> Oo, that looks good. Now these are special, right?
>> They’re special: they’re vegan.
>> They’re vegan.
>> No dairy.
>> Wow. Let me zoom up on that. Jovon’s been trying to sneak one of those ever since you made them yesterday.
>> I found the little ladle. That’s a hard little phrase. Say that five times quickly! Little ladle [x5].
>> Ben, this ham is delicious.
>> You guys are so clear, such good actors for my Rachel’s English audience. Totally natural.
>> They’re hamming it up.
>> They are hamming it up. Thank you, Matthew, for brining up another use of the word ‘ham’.
Matthew cleverly pointed out a second definition for the word ‘ham’. An actor or performer who overacts. As a verb: to act with exaggerated expression of emotion, to overact. So the idiom, to ham it up, simply means, to overact. Example sentence: He really hammed it up for the camera.
>> Happy Easter, guys.
>> Happy Easter, Rachel.
>> Hope you’re learning lots of fun vocabulary.
>> They are.
>> We learned all about the word ‘ham’.
>> Oo, ham.
>> That’s a good one.
>> It is a good one and —
>> It’s a nasal one.
>> — it’s sort of an odd word because it’s got this AA-UH sound.
>> haa, haaa. Like that.
>> Yeah. If you had to explain how you pronounce ‘ham’, what would you say?
>> Um, haa, aa.
There’s an H in there.
>> There’s an A, with an aa, kind of an aa?
>> Very nasal aa sound.
>> M, and then an M, mm, mm.
>> So if you had to say it in slow motion, say it in slow motion.
>> There you go! I heard that good UH sound. HaQuyen?
Let’s watch this in slow motion. As you know, AA followed by M has an ‘uh’ sound. AA-uh, AA-uh. You can see HaQuyen’s tongue pull back to make that UH sound before her lips close for the M.
>> Yeah, nice
>> Got that in the profile.
>> Yep, she gave the profile so we can see the movement of the tongue and everything. Thanks guys!
>> You’re welcome Rachel.
>> You’re most welcome.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.
Don’t stop there.
Have fun with my real-life English videos. Or get more comfortable with the IPA in this play list. Learn about the online courses I offer, or check out my latest video.