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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Increase Your Articulation in Speech

One of the challenges that a good number of foreign speakers of the English language will usually face is the ability to excel when it comes to good pronunciation of words. This is so because of the fact that many do not know that it is not just enough to be able to identify correctly the sounds that exist in the words whether they are vowels or consonants, it is also very important to be able to match the correct stress pattern with the word in question. The bottom line is that you may be able to identify correctly the vowel and consonant sounds in a particular word but if you miss the correct stress pattern, you will still end up mispronouncing the word.

There are simple rules involved and if one understands the basics, one will be able to build on that and thus compare favourably with native speakers of the English language. The focus of this is to be able to communicate effectively with members of your audience whose origins you as a speaker may have no control over. There are essentially two major components of diction and they are sounds and stress patterns. If you can fully understand these two components, you would be better armed in the quest for articulate speech.

The sounds in the English Language comprise 49 vowels and consonants in all. There are 25 vowel sounds made up of 12 monothongs, 8 diphthongs and 5 triphthongs. A monothong has just one vowel sound in it while the diphthongs are a combination of two vowel sounds and the triphthongs are a combination of three vowel sounds. All the consonant sounds in the English language vocabulary are 24 in number.
A syllable is a unit of sound that contains one vowel and or at least one consonant. These units of sound are the components that are usually stressed or unstressed in speech. Stressed syllables usually have three major characteristics; they are longer in duration, louder in volume and higher in pitch. There are primary stresses, secondary stresses and tertiary stresses with the last two being most common in polysyllabic words i.e. words with more than three syllables or in some contexts, at least three syllables.

Apart from learning how to articulate sounds and identify correct stress patterns, you must also master the art of speaking clearly and deliberately because it is not just about being audible, you must be understandable for your message to be clear and for you to be able to carry your audience along. You do not want to finish talking for two hours and have someone in the audience ask another person what you just finished talking about, do you.

Using a good pronouncing dictionary might just do the trick and there are lots of them around with the most notable being the Daniel Jones English Pronouncing dictionary. If you can also transcribe words then you are well on your way to increasing how articulate you are from your audience's perception. As with all skills, being more articulate requires practice.

1 comment:

  1. It is not just about being audible, you must be understandable for your message to be clear and for you to be able to carry your audience along....

    Very well said, Sir. Point noted. I think a lot of people are not conscious at all about their manner of speech delivery.

    They are either consumed by their passion or the audibility of their speech therefore either end up provoking their audience or getting them lost.

    Very well said.


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