Come with me as I visit friends in Manhattan who were affected by Hurricane Sandy and study real English conversation.
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As many of you probably know, hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast at the end of October, 2012.
The next day I hopped on my bike and checked in on friends who live in southern Manhattan to see how they were doing.
First, let me talk about the word ‘hurricane’. Three syllable word, stress on the first syllable.
It has the H consonant sound, the ‘ur’ as in ‘her’ vowel/consonant, hur-, hur-, that’s the stressed syllable.
Then the IH as in SIT, K consonant sound, AY diphthong, and finally the N consonant sound.
So the two unstressed syllables: -icane, -icane. No shape in the voice, lower and flatter.
Also, lower in volume. Hurricane. Hurricane. Laura, the reason why I can hardly see you is because power’s out.
In this sentence, the word ‘can’ is a helping verb. It’s not the main verb. So, it’s a function word,
and I’m reducing it to ‘kn’, ‘kn’, ‘I kn’. Listen again. Laura, the reason why I can [3x]
Laura, the reason why I can hardly see you is because power’s out. That’s correct.
Now, what time did you guys lose power last night? Let’s take a look at the T pronunciations
in the sentence fragment ‘last night’. Notice I didn’t say the T in the word ‘last’.
Normally, as being part of an ending consonant cluster, that would be pronounced. But often,
when the next sound is another consonant, the ending T in a consonant cluster will be dropped.
Last night, last night. Are you noticing also a stop T at the end of the word ‘night’? I’m not releasing the tt sound. Night, night.
However, it’s not the same as dropping the T: nigh’, nigh’. The stop T makes the word more abrupt, night, night.
And it doesn’t have quite the downward shape in voice, nigh-, nigh-, that it would have if I dropped the T altogether.
Night, night. Last night. Listen again. Now, what time did you guys lose power last night? [3x]
Uh, we lost power just a little after 8:30. Another stop T. Eight-thirty. Eight, eight. Eight-thirty.
Notice that the T in the word ‘thirty’ is being pronounced as a flap T because it comes after an R and before a vowel.
Thirty, thirty. Eight-thirty. Listen again. 8:30 [3x]
Any idea when you’re going to get your power back on? No idea — could be several days.
What are you going to do with these days with no power? What are you going to do? A couple reductions here.
First, the word ‘are’ is being reduced to ‘er’, ‘er’. So, the T at the end of ‘what’ now comes between two vowel sounds and is a flap T.
What are, what are, what are, what are you going to do? Notice I’m also reducing ‘going to’ to gonna, gonna.
What are you gonna do? Listen again. What are you going to do [3x]
with these days with no power? Um, well. Plan to do a lot of sitting and thinking.
Staring out windows. Maybe some Balderdash. Who knows? Games. Games.
That sounds like a great way to spend the next couple of days. If you ever need to recharge anything, just come on up to my apartment.
Apartment. Two stop T’s. So the T’s in this word don’t really follow the rules for T pronunciations.
Apartment, apartment. Listen again. My apartment [3x],
you can have all the power and internet that you want. Another ‘can’ reduction: you can, you can. You can have.
You can have [3x] all the power and internet that you want. Will do.
And hot water. Thank you.
You’re welcome. I also want to point out something interesting about the word ‘weather’.
‘Weather’ can be both a noun or a verb. Now, that’s not that interesting. There are lots of words in American English that are that way.
But thing about weather is that both as a noun and as a verb, it’s pronounced the same way. Stress on the first syllable: weather, weather.
Normally, there will be a difference in pronunciation. For example, the word ‘present’. Present is the noun, stress is on the first syllable.
Present. But as a verb, present, present, stress is on the second syllable, so the two words are pronounced differently. Present, present.
But with ‘weather’, both the same. Both as a noun: we’re having terrible weather. And as a verb: we’ll weather this storm.
Weather, weather. So Sara, How did you guys weather the storm last night?
We weathered it amazingly well. Um, perhaps because the weather was not too crazy around here.
At least it didn’t seem so. But you did lose power.
We lost power. So, most people are out of power. But luckily, they don’t live too far from me.
So my home has been able to be a haven of internet and electricity for all my friends. Thank you to those who showed concern about me and my family during the hurricane.
As you can see, I came through just fine. It was great to see so many supporting those who went without electricity, heat, and
hot water for many days. For example, some stores that had power set up charging stations in front
so people could see the news and be in touch with loved ones. It was strange to walk around a darkened Manhattan.
Though for most people, life is back to normal, others are still living without electricity and even running water.
And others lost their homes entirely. As time goes on, let’s continue to help out those affected by this hurricane.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.