Pronouncing ‘t’ in the Middle of a Word

Pronouncing ‘t’ in the Middle of a Word

Mar 22

This letter appears to be rather simple, but to refine the sound so that your pronunciation of it comes closer to that of a native English speaker can be difficult. The following are tips on how to achieve a nearly perfect American accent on the letter t. Our base word is did. I know you are protesting that there is no t in did. Stick with me and you will see how did can lead us to the perfection of  t in the middle of a word. When a native says did, the two d‘s are not the same. The first pushes the tongue out and a little up, while the second pulls it down and in, nearly equally in both directions. Also, the alveolar ridge (the hard bone behind the teeth and the beginning of the roof of the mouth) is touched by the region immediately behind the tip of the tongue, known as the blade. It is a U-shaped area. These are two different d sounds. Now consider the word butter. We do not pronounce the double-t as t‘s, but as a d sound. However, you have to hit the right d sound or you will be pegged as a foreigner. This time, the d sound is with the tip of the tongue on the hard palate. However, there is no pushing or pulling. It is a simple tapping with the tip. Do not let any air out of your mouth when you say it. This must be unaspirated. Now try this sentence: Did the butter taste good? The d at the end of good is like the last d in did not the first d. Many foreigners mistakenly make the sound of the first ‘d’, making it sound more like the German word gut, as in Gutten tag! (Hello!). Let’s try some more. I will place a 1 by the d-sound that is similar to the first one in did, and a 2 by those that are like the last one. A 3 will represent the d-sound in butter. Remember, d1 you use the blade of the tongue, pushing it out and only a little up. For d2 you pull the blade of the tongue equally back and down. On d3 you tap the tip of the tongue on the aveolar. rid3 redd3er rod1e road1 bed2 hid2ing wed2 bleed2 bleeder3 d1ead2 ind2ifference ind1epend1ence d1ed2icated1 Place your...

Alternating Pronoun and Noun for Variation

Alternating Pronoun and Noun for Variation

Mar 04

When writing, you must consider your reader’s attention span. This will be impacted by the nature of the writing itself, but also by the content. If you have written monotonous words, the reader will feel like either sleeping or running away. The dog ran down the street. He found a cat and he chased the cat. Then he ran into the back yard. He found a bone and he buried the bone. This suffers badly from a lack of noun-pronoun variation. You can hear it even more clearly if you read it aloud. Having not been convinced by your own ear, read it to your friend and listen to them begin to snore. You can always improve the readability of your writing by alternating between noun and pronoun. This is especially useful when you must refer to the same thing many times in successive sentences. The company was ready to invest in the new brand, but the company needed to conduct more market research first. When the company finished collecting the data, the company decided not to go ahead with the brand. You can see the problem with overusing the noun and avoiding the pronoun altogether. The same would be true if we only used the word company the first time and if each successive occurrence were replaced with the pronoun it. So we strike a compromise, alternating between the two. The company was ready to invest in the new brand, but it needed to conduct more market research first. When it finished collecting the data, the company decided not to go ahead with the brand. Even repetition of pattern can come across as repetitious. So varying noun-pronoun-pronoun-noun gives it a more natural feeling, rather than the straight forward alternating noun-pronoun-noun-pronoun. These suggestions apply not only to the subject of the sentence, but also to other repeated nouns within a single sentence or across neighboring sentences. Watch out for the appearance of repetition across the final sentence of one paragraph and into the first one of the next paragraph. …When it finished collecting the data, the company decided not to go ahead with the brand. The brand did not make a strong enough showing in the company’s surveys. The brand was a good product, but lacked customer confidence. Here, you can see that brand now raises a problem of repetition. …When it finished collecting the data, the company decided...

Dangling Modifiers

Dangling Modifiers

Feb 23

It sounds naughty, or sloppy at least, and you would be right in the second assumption. Dangling modifiers are logical mistakes that writers and speakers accidentally perform when they paint themselves into a corner. A modifier is assigned to the wrong noun when the writer assumes a connection that is not concretely made in the words. While a dangling modifier may be a failure in logic, it is always a failure in communication. Those sentences, whose logic has collapsed under the weight of a dangling modifier, are quite funny. However, a dangling modifier that is not funny is even more dangerous. These are more difficult to spot. Here is an example: Having competed the homework, the radio was flipped on. Who finished the homework, the radio? How could the radio have done the homework? Even if there is a context of someone, such as Susan, doing something in the previous sentence, the radio is clearly linked to the action of finishing the homework. If we say, “Having finished the homework, Susan was deeply moved”, then Susan is the one who finished the homework. Here are some more: Having been tossed into the air, the dog caught the chew toy. What was tossed into the air, the dog or the stick? Correct: The chew toy, having been tossed into the air, was caught by the dog.   Flattened on the road by a speeding car, Rex licked the hamburger. What was flattened by the car, the dog or the hamburger? Correct: The hamburger, flattened on the road by a speeding car, was licked by Rex.   On the way to Fir street, a tree started to fall toward John’s vehicle. What was going to Fir street, the tree or the car? Correct: While on the way to Fir street, John’s vehicle could have been hit be a tree that started to fall.   Changing the tires seasonally, the car handled better. What changed the tires, the car or the owner who is not mentioned? Correct: Because the tires were changed seasonally, the car handled better.   While walking to school in freezing weather, my right ear got frost bitten. What was walking to school, the ear or the speaker? Correct: While I was walking to school in freezing weather, my right ear got frost bitten. Now, the question is how to spot these. Find the sentences with modifying phrases that...

Can You Start a Sentence With Or?

Can You Start a Sentence With Or?

May 09

The English language can be a confusing one. It is highly adaptable, ever changing with the age. Most people recognize this in the way that slang changes over time. What was commonly said in the 70’s, for example, is usually not said today. Likewise, different English speaking countries have different slang terms and common language that you might not understand in another. But there are other ways in which it can be confusing as well. Using a conjunction like ‘or’ to begin a sentence is one instance. Especially since no one can seem to tell you for sure if it is allowed or not. Like using ‘and‘, the basic rules of modern English say quite clearly that it should never be put at the beginning of any statement. This is because it is believed to make it look like an incomplete sentence, since ‘or’ is used to connect to thoughts. If there are no secondary thoughts in the same sentence, most teachers will say that it should not be used. This is an example of when what is proper, however, isn’t necessarily the case. When writing something like an essay, it is best to avoid using a conjunction to begin any sentence. But for creative purposes it can be just fine, as long as the word fits. Past Versus Present English Rules Using ‘or’ to begin a sentence used to be considered perfectly fine in any circumstance. In fact, it was not until around the 1800’s that the method of English communication began to change, becoming more formal during the Victorian Era. Writing in many ways shifted during this time, and you will see a stark difference in structure, form and description between the 1700’s and 1800’s. From there, each decade brought other shifts to the way we write. But many of the same rules continued to apply, and the use of conjunctions is no exception. If you use ‘or’ to begin a sentence, it can be said that you are just using an older form of English language that preceded the change that came during the Victorian period. Use In Essays This is one area you want to stay away from when it comes to conjunctions. Most – if not all – English teachers will consider it a mark against you if you use ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’, ‘however’ or any other connecting word to start a sentence. While...

Persuasive Writing– MAKE Them Listen!

Persuasive Writing– MAKE Them Listen!

Apr 14

You might be surprised by the aggressive nature of this post’s name. But I thought it was necessary for today’s topic: persuasive writing. This is a form of writing that is aimed towards convincing the reader to believe something based on facts, tone and presentation. It can be based on opinion or statistics, and it is all about arguing a point in a constructive and effective way. Chances are, you come across persuasive writing in some form or another every day. Maybe it is an editorial in your local paper that is expressing the writer’s opinion. Perhaps it is an article in a magazine telling you why you should try a certain diet or beauty regimen. It could even be a commercial on the television trying to get you to buy a specific product. All of the examples above show you how people use persuasive writing. You may have even done it yourself without realizing it. Have you ever given your opinion in a forum thread or a blog comment? Were those opinions backed up with reasons why, in a way that would make other people agree with you? Then you were writing persuasively. When writing a persuasive essay, you are looking to put across your point in a way that will convince readers of your viewpoint. But there is a more structured format to the writing itself, similar to how other essays are done. Let’s say the topic was about cats being better than dogs. It starts with a persuasive opening paragraph. This paragraph should state the point of the essay itself, called the thesis. Example: “When looking at domesticated animals one thing becomes immediately clear: cats are far superior to dogs.” This is your thesis, and now the rest of the paragraph should be giving the reader a general rundown of why it is that the thesis is true. When you list the reasons, you will be giving yourself a blueprint for the rest of the persuasive essay. “Some may disagree, but I am here to say that it is absolutely the truth. My reasoning is based on three reasons; they use a liter box rather than your entire backyard for a bathroom, they don’t have to be walked, and they want just the right amount of attention. It is these points that put them far beyond dogs in talents and convenience, and make them the better...

How to Write a Book Review

How to Write a Book Review

Apr 12

Literature is a beautiful thing, in all of its forms. But not every example is one for the record books. In fact, I have personally cracked open more than one book that I wish I had never bothered with. I am terrible at checking book reviews. But for those smarter than I, there are many out there in newspapers, magazines, journals and online that can keep you from getting something you are less than fond of. When it comes to writing a review yourself, you are undertaking an important task. It is your job to provide an interesting, descriptive and informed look into the novel or non-fiction piece you have chosen. This will help others decide whether or not it is something that they want to read themselves. If you have ever been on a site like Amazon, you will notice that writing reviews is a popular way of stating an opinion on any product. They provide both a professional outline from a trusted source (such as the New York Times), and also user written reviews. There is no specific format that makes the writing of a review different than that of an essay, except for the content. What you have to watch out for is what you are writing, and how you are presenting it. There are a few things that should always be included: A beginning summary of what the book is about. This is not a deconstruction of everything in the book, but rather a basic rundown of the plot. Make sure it is descriptive, and ask yourself if you would understand what the book was about if you were to read the paragraph. It shouldn’t be too long, but it should hit all the major points. An explanation of the purpose of the book. This is important, even if you are just giving your own interpretation of why the author chose to write the book. Make sure to check any preface, acknowledgements, author’s notes, or anything else that might explain in greater detail. You can even seek out other sources to see if the author spoke to anyone else about the reason. Next, analyze the content itself. What was your impression of it? Did it speak to you? What did it say? An interpretation of the text can also be thought provoking to the reader. But keep in mind that the biggest thing you should be...