These are two of the most common reductions in American English. Learn about linking them into the words in a phrase to smooth out your speech and sound natural.
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In this American English pronunciation video, I’m going to make a steaming bowl of ramen noodles. Of course, we’ll also study pronunciation, and we’ll see a lot of reduction in action, like ‘gotta’, ‘gonna’, them, and can. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a blast. This video is actually not entirely about American English pronunciation. It’s by request from my mother because when I was with her over Christmas I was telling her how much I love to make ramen noodles. And she thought that was sort of gross. Did you notice? I made a flap T out of the T in ‘sort of’. This is because it comes after an R, before a vowel sound. Sort of. We’ll want to link the D to the next word, which begins with a vowel, sort of, sort of, so it sounds more like one word than two separate units. Sort of. Let’s listen again.
Sort of gross. [3x] –ramen noodles. And she thought that was sort of gross.
I assured her it’s not gross. Not the way I make it! So this video is for her: how I make my ramen noodles. Now I was also on vacation with my aunt. A-U-N-T. I know that aunt is not the number one pronunciation for that word. Most people pronounce it aunt. I use aunt. So let’s look: mom, aunt, ramen. They all have that AH vowel, but each one of those words spells the AH vowel differently. Ok, let’s get cooking.
First, I take the bowl that I’m going to eat my ramen soup in. Fill it up. It’s got to be kind of big. Do you remember in the Thanksgiving video when we reduced I have got to to I’ve gotta, or, I gotta? It’s happening here. It has got to: I’m reducing it to It’s gotta, it’s gotta. Listen again.
It’s got to be kind of big. [3x]
Maybe leave about an inch at the top. I’m going to put it on high. Did you notice? I’m gonna. I’ve reduced I am going to to I’m gonna. Of course, use of ‘gonna’ is very prevalent in everyday spoken American English. I’m gonna. The first syllable has the G consonant, ‘uh’ as in ‘butter’ vowel, a nice, clean N, and the second syllable, the schwa. The first syllable is stressed, gon-, and the second syllable unstressed, -a. Gonna, gonna. Listen again.
I’m going to put it on high. [3x]
Oops. Wrong burner. You’d think I would know by now. OK. So. While that’s heating up, let’s talk about the vegetable situation. Come over here camera lady. So I’m going to use mushrooms, I have some frozen green beans, and carrots. Um, I love to use bok choy but I don’t have any. I’m going to garnish with a little cilantro. And you know what? I’m remembering that in my freezer, I have some chopped up onions that I already fried one time when I made an absolutely ridiculous amount of fried onions. So I’m actually going to chip off a little bit of that to throw in as well.
Ok, so, I’m going to chop up my mushrooms. I’m going to try to be careful not to loose any finger parts in the process. I’m not exactly gifted in the kitchen. I have lost finger parts in the past.
Don’t make them too small. Did you notice? I reduced the word ‘them’ to the schwa-M sound: um, um. Because in this pronunciation the word ‘them’ begins with a vowel, and the word before, ‘make’, ends with a K, I’m going to make sure that those two words link and feel like one unit — make ’em, make ’em — rather than two separate words. Listen again.
Don’t make them too small [3x], because we are going to be eating this with chopsticks. It’s got to be a grabbable size. Ok, I’m also going to put in a carrot. Carrots, I like to cut them on the diagonal, because again it makes them bigger. Did you notice? Two more cases where the word ‘them’ was reduced to ’em. I like to cut them on the diagonal, cut them, cut them. We’re taking the final letter of the word ‘cut’, we’re attaching it to the word ’em, ’em, and because the T now comes between two vowels, I turned that T into a flap, or, a light D sound. Cut them, cut them. Also, the phrase it makes them bigger, makes them bigger. Again, ‘them’ reduced to ’em, ’em. Also did you notice, I reduced the word ‘because’ to simply cuz, cuz. The K, schwa, Z sound. Cuz it makes ’em, cuz it makes ’em. And, as usual, when you reduce something, you link it to the words that come around it. Cuz it, cuz it, cuz it makes ’em. The Z sound links to the next word ‘it’. Listen to the phrases again.
I like to cut them on the diagonal, because again it makes them bigger, easier to grab with a chopstick. Ok, so then I’m going to use the frozen green beans from Trader Joe’s. And my frozen onion, which actually, when I made it, I had fried in grease from ground beef. What? She just gave me, camera lady just gave me a face that was like that’s gross. And you know what? It’s not gross. It just — it makes it more tasty. Ok. I’m guessing that the water is boiling. So I’m now ready to head over to the pot. Just a quick note: did you see how much the jaw dropped in the word ‘pot’? And you can see a dark space in the mouth because the tongue is pressed down in the back. Just the way the AH vowel should be.
It’s not boiling. I need to be patient.
So, to make my broth, I’m not just going to use the packet that came with the ramen of course. I will use some of it, but I’m going to supplement— Hey! Another ‘gonna’. I’m gonna supplement. I’m gonna supplement. But I’m going to supplement with fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, some fresh lemon, and probably a little fresh pepper as well. It’s boiling. In goes the ramen. I give it just a few seconds to start to break up. Even though these are frozen, it’s ok to throw them right in. Did you notice how quickly I said the word it’s? I reduced it by dropping the vowel altogether, and attaching the TS sound to the next word. Tsokay, tsokay. This was very fast of me, quite casual. It’s ok to throw them right in. And now all the vegetable that we’ve chopped goes in. Mmm, tasty. Break up the noodles a little bit. Ok, I’m going to put in my sauce ingredients. Little fish sauce, just a few drops. Little soy sauce, just a few drops. Little sugar. That wasn’t enough. There we go. Where did my ramen packet go? There it is. And then maybe half of this. Ok. Lemon juice. Oops, don’t want that seed to fall in. Ok, so there it is. I’m going to mix it up, I’m going to let it go for not very long. Just maybe two minutes before my next step.
We’re going to put an egg in this guy. Ok, so, I take my egg. Get it all nice and good and cracked. Can you see? Can you see? I reduced the word ‘can’ to cn, cn. That’s because, in this sentence, it’s a helping verb. ‘See’ is the main verb. Helping verbs will usually be unstressed. And ‘can’ likes to reduce when it’s unstressed to cn: K sound, schwa, N. Cn, Cn. Can you see? Listen again.
Can you see? [x3] —in there?
Then, just split it open, dump it right in, put on the lid, turn off the heat, boom!
So now I’m going to dump the ramen into my bowl, and I have this little spoon because I’m going to hold up the egg, so that the egg doesn’t get crushed in the process. So I dump it all. And now I’ll put the egg in. And now, if I want a runny yolk, I just leave it as it is. If I want the yolk to be more cooked, then what I’ll do is I’ll pick up some noodles and sort of cover it. And that will cook it. So that maybe when I’m half way through, or towards the end of my bowl of ramen, I have a delicious yolk that’s mostly cooked. Mmm, I love it. Ok, last thing, going to garnish with a little bit of cilantro. Not a must, just because I had it. And there you go, mom, auntie, a bowl of ramen.
As a thanks for being my camera lady, I’m going to let my friend Sara eat this delicious bowl of ramen.
What do you think Sara? >> It’s delicious.
I know I’m no master chef. And probably a lot of my students can make a much better noodle dish than I can. I’m obsessed with noodles right now, so please send me your recipes! Post a photo to my Facebook page, or maybe even post a video of you making your noodle dish. I can’t wait to get some recipes! That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.