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What is Pronunciation?

"Pronunciation" refers to the way in which we make the sound of words.

The noun pronunciation comes from the verb pronounce, meaning "to make the sound of words".

To pronounce words, we push air from our lungs up through our throat and vocal chords, through our mouth, past our tongue and out between our teeth and lips. (Sometimes air also travels through our nose.)

To change the sound that we are making, we mainly use the muscles of our mouth, tongue and lips to control the shape of our mouth and the flow of air. If we can control the shape of our mouth and the flow of air correctly, then our pronunciation is clearer and other people understand us more easily.

Speakers of different languages tend to develop different muscles of the mouth for pronunciation. When we speak a foreign language, our muscles may not be well developed for that language, and we will find pronunciation more difficult. By practising the foreign language pronunciation, our muscles develop and pronunciation improves.

As well as creating correct vowel and consonant sounds using the muscles of our mouth, tongue and lips, there are other important aspects of pronunciation, including:

  • word stress - emphasis on certain syllables in a word
  • sentence stress - emphasis on certain words in a sentence
  • linking - joining certain words together
  • intonation - the rise and fall of our voice as we speak

Note the spelling of the noun pronunciation and the verb pronounce.

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