Study conversational English in this interview with NBC Broadcaster Craig Melvin. See how even professionals use reductions and contractions all the time, and learn some new vocabulary and idioms.
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Hey guys. Welcome to the new Rachel’s English mini-series, Interview a Broadcaster!
>> Hey guys. I’m here with Craig Melvin. Craig, tell me a little bit about what you do.
>> I do YouTube.
>> No you don’t I do YouTube!
>> Ah, I am a correspondent with NBC News, and an anchor with MSNBC, and that’s, that’s kind of what I do.
>> Yeah. Somedays it’s awesome.
>> And other days it’s really awesome.
>> Yes, yes. Because this is on the internet, I love it!
>> He loves it! I don’t know if you’re aware, but sometimes people call the standard American accent ‘broadcaster English’.
>> So…, Yeah.
>> I did not know that.
>> So we’re sort of looking to the people who deliver the news to be examples of the standard American accent.
>> No pressure.
>> No pressure at all.
>> So, I’m curious, where did you grow up?
>> Uh, South Carolina, a state not known for—
>> —language. We’ll just leave it at that.
>> Right, for the American accent.
>> Yes, but, I grew up in South Carolina.,br> >> So, did you grow up speaking the standard accent, or did you sort of have to change that as you went into this field?
>> I was blessed with a mother who was a school teacher, who, at a very young age, made sure that we understood how important it was to pronounce words correctly. And, this non-regional dialect.
>> So, this ambiguous dialect, it’s the same dialect I’ve always had because of her.
>> That’s great, yeah.
>> Well, it’s helped professionally.
>> Now, when you’re preparing for the camera, how do you prepare a text?
>> It depends on the story. Um, and if there are words in the copy that might prove themselves difficult,
>> I’ll go over it three times. Three times is generally my rule, for each script. Read it aloud, three times. Um, because sometimes when you read something, it may not seem very complicated. But when you say it out loud, you realize, oh, I’m going to trip up over this word.
>> Right. So you read it out loud when you’re practicing.
>> Yes, three times.
>> Unless we’re pressed for time. If there’s breaking news, then it’s a dice roll.
Mr. Melvin used the idiom ‘dice roll’, also used as, roll the dice. This means to do something even if you’re not certain of the outcome, to take a chance. To have to read a text for the first time on air is definitely a dice roll.
>> If there’s breaking news, then it’s a dice roll.
>> What is a word that you, sort of, shy away from? Are there any words in American English that you still find difficult to pronounce?
>> Oo. That’s a really good question. Yes. There are a couple. Um, there’s one that I struggle with, regularly.
>> Is it ‘regularly’?
>> ‘Regularly’ is one. If I see ‘regularly’, I frequently change it to ‘frequently’.
>> So you change it!
>> Oh yeah. All the time.
‘Regularly’. This is a tough word. It’s a four-syllable word with stress on the first syllable. DA-da-da-da. Let’s practice just a few times slowed down. Reg-u-lar-ly, regularly. Regularly.
>> So, and I also struggle with, and there’s no synonym for this one: rural.
>> Rural. I get questions about that.
>> Rural. R-U-R-A-L. It’s very difficult. Rural.
>> Now, I’m noticing a pattern. With ‘regularly’ and ‘rural’, I think you’re having issues with R’s and L’s maybe.
>> Yes. I have always struggled with the R.
>> And I don’t know why. Can you help me?
>> I can.
Rural. Another really tough word! Let’s practice it slowed down. Rur-al. Rur-al.
>> What’s your favorite word in American English? And, maybe, why?
>> Oo. My favorite word?
>> Oh, that’s a good one. Favorite word. I—there are a couple that I enjoy.
>> Let’s hear them.
>> Now some of these are just crutch words that I use. Uh, cool. ‘Cool’ is a crutch word.
>> But I—because ‘cool’ is one of those words it can be a noun, it can be an adjective, you can say ‘Cool!’ or ‘eh, cool.’
>> Right. Yeah, yeah.
>> You know? It’s a multi-purpose word.
>> So I enjoy ‘cool’. And another word that I’ve always…well, that’s a proper noun. It’s not really a word, it’s a name.
>> It still counts.
>> Betty Jo.
>> Betty Jo.
>> Betty Jo. >> Who’s this?
>> That’s my mother.
Betty Jo. Notice that we have a double T there. But, it represents one sound, and that’s the Flap T, because it’s not starting a stressed syllable, and there’s a vowel before and a vowel after. Betty, Betty.
>> Her name’s Betty. Um, why am I telling this story on the internet? Her name’s Betty, and, again, from South Carolina. When you grow up in South Carolina, it’s like Ella May, Betty Jo. So, she grew up like a country girl, was Betty Jo. She grew up and she dropped the middle name. And I found out when I was, like, 22-23.
>> Oh, so she was like ‘Just call me Betty’.
>> Right. And when I found out that it was really Betty Jo, I use ‘Betty Jo’ sometimes as, obviously my mother, Betty Jo, but sometimes, my brother and I, if we’re, like, just messing around, we’ll be like “That’s so Betty Jo.”
Messing around. In this case, it means to play around, a relaxed not serious interaction with someone. Notice Mr. Melvin made the NG an N sound, messin’, messin’, messin’ around. Native speakers do this sometimes with -ing words. Another common example, doin’. What are you doin’?
>> Sometimes, if my brother and I, if we’re, like, just messing around, we’ll be like “That’s so Betty Jo.”
>> I bet she loves that.
>> That was so inside baseball.
‘That’s so inside baseball’. I’d never heard this phrase before, I had to look it up. So, thanks to Mr. Melvin for teaching me a new metaphor. Basically, it means inside information that isn’t pertinent to the general public. In this case, information about Mr. Melvin’s family. Inside baseball, DA-da-DA-da. Inside baseball.
>> So inside baseball. But those are the two.
>> Awesome. Well, Craig, thank you so much for joining us
>> Thank you. I hope I did not bore your YouTube fans.
>> I think they’ll love it.
>> This is a really cool thing you do.
>> Thank you.
>> See what I did there?
>> Cool! He used the word ‘cool’ in a sentence.
>> There you go.
Follow Mr. Melvin on Twitter and check out his 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.
Special thanks to Patrick of Patrick JMT who manned the camera for this shoot. Check out his YouTube channel for excellent math tutorials.
Check out all the videos in the Interview a Broadcaster series by clicking here, or on the link in the video description below.