If you’re confused about the R and L sounds, you probably have a tough time with these two words. Learn about the different mouth positions to help you make these two words clearly.
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Today I’m going to go over two words that often trip people up: work and walk. Let’s take a look at the IPA transcriptions. First, notice that the word walk, even though it is spelled with an L, has no L sound in it. The word ‘work’ is written with four different IPA symbols. The ‘ur’ as in ‘her’ vowel [ɜ] is always followed by the R consonant sound [ɹ] , and really they are the vowel and consonant concept of the same sound, rrr. So though it’s written with four different symbols, it’s really just three sounds: ww, rr, kk. And walk, ww, aw, kk.
So the difference in these words is the middle sound, rrr, and aw [ɔ]. For the rr sound, the tongue pulls up and back some. And the middle raises and stretches wide, pressing against the insides of the top teeth. Rr, rr. The front of the tongue then just hangs forward, comes down, but it’s still up and back enough so that the tip of the tongue isn’t touching anything. Rr, rr. Also, notice the lip position. The corners come in and the lips pucker a little bit. Rr.
For the aw sound, the jaw drops a little bit more. And the tongue is sort of raised slightly all over. Not more in one place than in another. Aw. The tip of the tongue is forward. It can either be lightly touching behind the bottom teeth, or just behind it. Aw. Notice the cheeks come in just a little bit on this vowel sound. Aw. And the lips round a little bit. Ww, rr, kk, ww, aw, kk.
Now, the first sound in these words in the W sound. And notice that the lips do need to be in a tight circle for that. And you make a sound with your vocal cords before opening into the vowel. The final sound is the K consonant sound, kk, where the tongue will stretch up in the back, kk, touch the soft palate back there, let a little bit of air build up, and then pull away. And in that pull away, the sound is released. Kk.
The two middle sounds really are pretty different. Let’s alternate them. Rr, aw, rr, aw, repeat with me. Rr, aw, rr, aw. The rr sound feels further up in the face for me, rr, rr, right here. Aw, the jaw is dropped a little bit more, the sound feels more in the middle of the face. Aw, rr. And now let’s put all the sounds together to make the words. Ww, rr, kk, ww, rr, kk, ww, rr, kk, ww, rr, kk, work. Ww, aw, kk, ww, aw, kk, ww, aw, kk, ww, aw, kk, walk. Work, walk.That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.