Come explore the Union Square Farmer’s Market in New York city and learn how to pronounce words with AH+R like ‘farm’ and ‘market’. Also, study the Dark L and the word ‘apple’.
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In this American English pronunciation video, you’ll come with me to the Union Square farmer’s market.
Today I spent some time at the farmer’s market where I did things like buy these beautiful flowers. The words ‘farmer’ and ‘market’ both have the ‘ah’ as in ‘father’ vowel followed by the R consonant. I’ve noticed that this combination can be problematic for my students. It’s important to remember to make a good ‘ah’ vowel before moving into the R consonant. A lot of people want to rush this, and the two sounds end up getting combined to something like far-, far-, instead of fah-rr, fah-rr. So, it is true with this combination that your tongue will probably start moving back into the R as soon as you start the AH vowel. But it’s important to start the AH vowel with the tongue tip forward. Far, far. And make sure you have enough jaw drop to get the good AH vowel. When in doubt, always practice slowly. Ah-rr, farmer’s market. Farmer’s market.
The farmer’s market at Union Square has some interesting things, like hand-dyed yarn, seafood, beautiful flowers, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, free samples.
>> Is it?
Did you hear how the intonation went up at the end. Is it? This is true of questions that can be answered with yes or no. In general, other questions will go down in pitch at the end. For example, what does it taste like? Taste like? like? it? like? Listen again.
>> Is it? [3x]
>> Too spicy or just right?
Here the question will be answered with either ‘too spicy’ or ‘just right’. So, not a yes/no question. Therefore, the sentence goes down in pitch at the end. Just right. Right, right. Listen again.
>> Too spicy, or just right [3x]
There’s also a local vendor who brings lots of honey, and, with that, bees. After putting honey and bees on my finger, the beekeeper told me the only way to get them off is with a good shake.
The farmer’s market also has lots of great baked goods, like these cider donuts.
>> Apple cider donuts.
>> Oh, yum!
>> Can I have some?
Can I have some? Again, a yes/no question, so the pitch went up at the end. Some? Some? Also, did you notice how I reduced the word ‘can’ to ‘kn’. We do this when it is a helping verb in a sentence. That is, not the main verb. Can I have some? Listen again.
>> Can I have some? [3x]
>> Oh wow. It’s soft. That is good.
>> Now hold up your apple.
>> This is my honey crisp apple.
The word ‘apple’ is a great word to pick out and study for pronunciation, because many people have difficulty with the Dark L sound. It’s quite common to hear non-native speakers substitute the OH diphthong for the dark L. So we end up getting a sound like ‘app-oh’ instead of ‘apple’. App-oh, apple. So what’s the difference? When we substitute the OH diphthong, you can see that the lips will round. App-oh. This means that the sound is being formed here at the front of the mouth. But for the dark L, apple, ul, ul, the sound vibrates here in the back of the mouth, and even the throat. Ul, ul, oh, oh, ul, ul. So, how do you make the dark L? Ul, ul. To make this, the tongue shifts back a little bit in the back, so the tension is in the back of the mouth, back of the tongue. Ul, that’s what brings the vibration here. Ul, ul, apple, ul, ul, rather than app-oh, oh, oh. Apple, apple. There are lots of words that end with this dark L in an unstressed syllable, like ‘bottle’, ‘incredible’. So, it’s really worth getting the sound right. Ul, ul.
Grape. The ‘ay’ diphthong is another sound that my students sometimes have problems with. Ay, ay. We have to hear two distinctly different vowel sounds, so for the first sound, the jaw has to drop quite a bit, and that’s the part that my students generally miss. Ay, ay. For the second half of the diphthong, the tongue tip still stays down here, behind the bottom front teeth, but the front part of the tongue stretches up towards the roof of the mouth. That’s what brings the jaw up. Ay, ay, grape.
So, if you ever find yourself in the New York area, I do recommend hitting up the farmer’s market in Union Square.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.