The shape and melody of the voice – the intonation – is one of the most important factors in sounding natural and American. Learn how the shape of a stressed syllable should be.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to talk about the shape of a stressed syllable.
I’ve been talking a lot recently with my private students about the shape of stress. Stress isn’t simply a higher pitch and a lower pitch. Yes-ter-day. Da-da-da. But actually, there’s a swoop from one pitch to the next, so there’s always a gliding feeling. Yesterday. When my students are able to switch into this mode, it makes a world of difference. All of a sudden, the speech is much more natural, is much more American. This applies even to one-syllable words and one-syllable sentences. For example, yes, yes. It’s not yes, yes, all on one pitch; that’s very flat. Yes. Yes. Hi. Hi. Hi — do you hear that change in pitch, that shape in that syllable? Very different from hi, hi, hi. Hi.
So the shape of a stressed syllable has the pitch gliding up and the pitch gliding down. Let’s take for example the word ‘hello’. Hello, -llo. Do you hear how the change in pitch isn’t abrupt. It slides from lower to higher and lower again. This is very different from hello, hello, an abrupt pitch change of two flat ideas. Hell-o, hell-o. Hello.
It’s not a bad idea to practice words and sentences very under pace, sliding from pitch to pitch. For example: hey, how are you? Then, when you speed it up, don’t think of switching back into speaking mode. Think of taking this stretched out, gliding from pitch to pitch speech, and speeding it up. We don’t want the character of that uhh– to change. You want to keep that in your speech. So please keep this in mind, and do practice speaking under pace sometimes. Stress is much more than a change in pitch, it’s how you change the pitch.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.