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Mindyourpronunciation

Pronunciationshouldbesmoothlyunderstoodbynativesandnon­nativesalike.Itis

moreimportanttotakecareofpronunciationthanjustmimickingtheaccent

SpeechisoneofthemostuniqueanddivinegiftsthatAlmightyAllahhasblessedmanwith.It

differentiatesahumanbeingfromcreaturesinthewholecosmos.Speechistherealindextoa

humanbeing'smindandsoul.Wordsspokengentlyhaveasofteningimpactonthelistener,

compellinghimtolistentillthelastsoundisuttered.Itisforthisreasonthatalotofstresshas

alwaysbeenputonthebetterwayofpronunciation,beitanylanguage.

IntheHolyQuran,AllahadvisestheProphet:

"AndrecitetheQuranwithTarteel(inaslow,pleasanttoneandstyle)."(73:4).Obviouslyas'the

languageofkingsisthekingoflanguages',theAlmightyhasorderedthebelieverstorecitethe HolyQuranwith'Tarteel'thatisbyadheringtotherulesofpronunciationinordertoconvey accuratemeaningandpurposeandtocreateasofteningandlonglastingeffectontheheartsof listeners.Modernphilosophersalsosealtheirappreciationandloudadmirationfortheeternal veracityonspeechbytheHolyQuran.LyliePragnellinhisarticle"ThePhilosophyofSpeech"

publishedin"ThePhilosopher"(VolumeV,1928)quotesMontaigneandwrites:

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Mindyourpronunciation­CSSForums

"Thereisnothinginourcompositioneitherpurelyimmaterialorpurelyspiritual,"saysMontaigne,

andperhapsofallthingsthiscanbemosttrulysaidofthedualityofthehumanvoice."Itisa

self­consciousentitywhosepowersaresogreatastobealmostillimitablewhengovernedbythe

wiseones."

AndEnglishisnoexception:itisnomorejustapost­colonialupshot.Inspiteofthetugofwar

betweenregionalandinternationallanguages,especiallyinChina,Englishisstillemphatically

attachedtosuccessinjobs,businessesandlearningmodernsubjects,beitTheology,Astronomy

orScience.AndbetterEnglishcommunicationskillsundoubtedlycallforpayingheedto

pronunciationinteachingandlearningasthefundamentalsteptowardseffectiveandsuccessful

communication.

Strikingabalance:

SpokenasEFL(EnglishasFirstLanguage)andESL(EnglishasSecondLanguage),itispartof

multiculturalandmultilingualsocietieslikePakistan,IndiaandBangladeshwhereregional

languagesarenumerous.ThiscallsforapronunciationofEnglishthatisneithertoonativenor

toolocalisedorladenwithmothertongueinterference.Where"Good"or"Bad"communicationis

ajob'sfirstpriority,thereisanutmosturge,especiallyamongtheeducatedmasses,toimprove

pronunciation.Sadly,"Goodpronunciation"isatagattachedtoandunderstoodtobethenative­

likeaccentandpronunciation:amisapprehensioncausedbytheobviouseffectoftheeliteclass.

Comfortableintelligibility

Aspirantindividualsstrivetobreaktheshacklesoftheirmothertongue'sinterferenceinEnglish

inordertoimpersonatetheNativeAmericanorBritishaccent,endingupwithamock

pronunciationandaninarticulatevarietyoftheEnglishlanguage.Giventhemedleyoflanguages

andinbornmothertongueinterferences,thepursuitofnative­likeEnglishisafar­fetchedand

quiteunrealisticgoal.

Ifonewishestosetrealisticandrealisablegoalsforpronunciation,itisunquestionably

"Comfortableintelligibility"inpronunciationandinaccent,whichaimsatsomethingclose

enoughtothecorrect.Whatmattersis"Countsofsamenessidentifiedbythelistener".

Intelligibilityisthen"Beingunderstoodatagiventimeinagivensituation"andinthissense

synonymousto"Understandability".Simply,themorewordsalistenerisabletoidentify

accurately,themoreintelligiblethespeakeris.Besides,tryingtospeakinthenative­likeaccent

withoutanyconsiderationofthenon­nativepeoplearoundusmayruntheriskofdesperate

breakdownsincommunication.

Stress,syllablesandtiming:

LocallanguageslikeUrdu,Sindhi,Pashto,orChineseandFrencharealtogetherdifferentfrom

English.Theformerarespokeninasyllabic­timedlanguage,inwhicheverysyllabletakes­up

roughlythesameamountoftimewhenpronouncedandthelatterbeingstressed­timedieonly

selectivesyllablestake­upmoretimethantheothers,thuscreatingadifferentrhythm.Syllabic­

timedEnglishcandefinitelybe"Comfortablyintelligible"andeasierforlocals.Butthetruth

remains:Syllabic­timedEnglishpronunciationisnotstandardandthestressed­timed

pronunciationistheambitionofmanyindividualsbecauseoftheprestigeattachedtoit.

LearningStrategies:

Pronunciationshouldbesmoothlyunderstoodbynativeandnon­nativepeoplealike.Inother

words,itismoreappreciabletotakecareofpronunciationthanjustmimickingtheaccent.But

thatdoesnotmeanthatwrongpronunciationshouldbeoverlookedsimplybecauseitis

understood.Thepreferablestrategy,then,istoidentifyanddiscoverwherethedifferences

betweenthe'StandardEnglish'pronunciationandthe'LocalEnglish'pronunciationare

unavoidablyhuge.Theseareaswillvaryaccordingtothelearnersandtheirmothertongue

interferences.Itisappreciabletoaddresstheseproblemsofpronunciationwiththegoalof

comfortableintelligibilityinmind.

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Thisleadstotheidentificationofareas:Notalltheareasofpronunciationareworthytobe

addressedinlocalcontext.Thesuitableapproachistoleaveoffthegratuitousareasbefore

adoptinganyteachingmethodology.Itisacommonobservationthatrhoticandnon­rhotic

distinctionisproblematiceveninstudentswholearnpronunciationquiteeasilyandgiventhatit

doesnothinderintelligibilityitshouldnotcomeintheteachingofpronunciation.Similarly,the

questionoftheintrusive/r/soundbetweentwovowelsoundsatthewordboundarywhenthe"R"

isactuallynottherecanbeignored.Also,thetwodifferentshadesof/l/soundhavesimplyno

relevanceinnon­nativeEnglishpronunciationscenarioinPakistan.Themorecomplicatedrulesof

connectedspeech,likeassimilationandomittingcertainsoundsarelessrelevantbecausethis

tendencyisleastinPakistaninon­nativespeakers.Thepointisthatthestudentscanlearn

pronunciationevenwithoutthem,witheaseandeconomy.

Commonmistakes

Allthesame,highlyproblematichabitsinpronunciationneedtobeidentifiedandareworthyto

betaught.Forexample,thepronunciationofindividualsoundsofteninhibitsintelligibilityand

therearecertainwordswhicharebestunderstoodwhenpronouncedinanon­nativeway,for

example,manypeoplepronounce"Therapy"as"Thraapi","Nomenclature"as"Nomun­

clature"(Withdoublestress)"Modern"as"Modrun"and"Market"as"Markeet".Thatdoes

notmeanthatsuchpronunciationsneednottobecorrectedtowardsimprovement,mostofthe

timemispronouncedwordsdohamperthemeaningaltogether.Thefactis,suchpronunciation

mistakesarenotrandom:Theyareregularandsystematic.Forexample,EFLandevenESL

studentsinourcountryjumbleupthelongvowelsoundof"Saw"andtheshortvowelsoundof

"Spot"and"Turn"and"Ton",anditisthetaskquitelaboriousforthestudentstouttercorrectly

thedifferencebetween"Bad","Bed"and"Bade".Also,thedistinctionbetweendifferentstress

patternsisimportanttoteachinordertograspthecompletemeaning.Forexample,CONtentand

conTENTasnounandverb,respectively.

Anotherjumbleupistheinabilitytodiscriminatebetween"emPLOY"andimployEE,asthese

arepronouncedthesameway.Interestingly,"Scold"and"Iscalled"aremixed­upbecauseof

insertionof/i/of"Lip"before/s/sound,amistakefoundalmostnaturallyamongpeoplehere

andispartofIndian­PakistaniEnglishdialect.

StressandRhythm:

Thus,itisimportanttoeradicateand"Correct"badpronunciationhabitsatanystageofa

learner'scareer.Since,communicationandpronunciationgotogetherandcanneverbeseparated

andcomfortableintelligibilitymustbepursuedwithakeeneyeonthelearner'shabitualerrors.It

isessentialtocontinuouslyobservethemothertongueinterferenceintheEnglishofanon­native

speaker.Conversely,itisasorrystatethatthemostimportantareasofpronunciationnamely

'Stress'­bothwordandsentence,and'Rhythm'arealtogetherignoredinteachingofEnglish.This

disableslearnerstocomprehendnativeEnglishandthusisthebiggesthindranceinlearning

Englishbecausewithoutproperlistening,itisnaturalnottoexpectalearnertoimprovehis

languageskillsas"Languagestartswiththeear".Itmaysoundtootechnicalbutonecannot

overlookthefactthatstressandrhythmcomplementgrammarandmeaningsimultaneously,or

oneispronetomix­up"Comefortable"and"Comfortable".Secondly,vowelquantityisofhigh

importanceasinUrdu.Because,whatifonemixes­upwordslike"Turn"and"Ton"!Andit

happenssooften.

Thirdly,contrastivestressisanarea,whichmustbetakencareofinPakistanisettingorthe

wholelotofinformationismissedoutveryeasily.Oncethislevelofintelligibilityisattained,the

teachermaygoontocultivateimprovedareaslikeassimilation,elisionandthelesscommon

tonesofEnglishlanguage.

Pronunciationhasbeenrightlycalledthe'Cinderella'ofEnglishlanguage.Butitistruewith

almostallthelanguagesoftheworldwhereconsiderationsofhowthebreathshouldshapeupin

mouthtoformthespeechsoundsisgiventheleastimportance.Almostalways,somuch

importanceisgiventothegrammaticalelementsandrulesthatlearnersdonotcontractthe

grammaticalwordslikeauxiliaryandconjunction.Learnersneedtobetaughtthedifference

betweenspokenandwrittenlanguage,theformerhavingnoconceptof"Word"assuch.Allwe

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Mindyourpronunciation­CSSForums

speakisthestringsofsoundsthataresupple,smoothandsoftifpronouncedproperlyand

intelligibly.

Itissuggestedthatoneshouldstartwithsuprasegmentalfeaturesorprosodyofthelanguagein

question.Becauseonce"rhythm"and"stress"areprioritised,itwillfacilitatetograspnew

information,helpindiscourseandwillservesyntacticalandlexicalpurposethenitmattersjusta

littlethenifapersonsays"Iskool"or"Skool":Itwillautocorrect.

AManWouldDoNothing,

IfHeWaitedUntilHe

CouldDoItSoWell

ThatNoOneWouldFindFault

WithWhatHeHasDone.

LasteditedbyShootingStar;Saturday,May05,2012at01:34AM.

LasteditedbyShootingStar;Saturday,May05,2012at 01:34AM . Tags englishspeakingskills « PreviousThread | NextThread

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