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Answers for
"You don't know what you don't know" sentences 
July 2017 
Issue 107a

 Triangle Speech Services is the private, professional practice of Judith L. Bergman, a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) who specializes in foreign accent and regional dialect modification and related communication skills. I offer customized, individual tutorials to corporate-sponsored and self-enrolled individuals who speak English fluently but with moderate to severe accents that create challenges and frustrations in the workplace. 
   Below you will find the "hidden" rules for pronouncing the words in bold italics in the six sentences in your pronunciation "experiment" in the newsletter you received on Thursday,  July 27.
   As we wrote before, In American English (1) the sound patterns carry the meaning and (2) spelling does not equal pronunciation and can't reliably guide pronunciation. And most important, most fluent, non-native speakers of English who come to me for accent modification don't know what they don't know! 
   1. If you've finished packing your clothes you need to close your suitcase because we are close to departure time. (What is the last sound of each word in bold italics?)
Clothes and the verb (to) close both  end with  a /z/ sound and the "th" in clothes is silent. The adjective close means "near," as the opposite of "far" and ends with an /s/ sound.
   2. My daughter is a graduate of UNC and will be awarded a graduate degree in computer science from NC State when she graduates this June. (How is "ate" pronounced?) Graduate as a noun and as an adjective ends in "it" and the third usage is a verb ending in "ate."
   3. Bob is a software architect who is a "pro" at solving problems so our project's projected completion date is Friday. (How is "pro" pronounced?)
"Pro" is pronounced with an "oh." The nouns problems and project are pronounced "PRAHblems" and "PRAHject" and "pruhJECted" is a verb with the stress on the second syllable and the initial syllable spoken with a quick, unstressed "uh."
   4. I'm certain that the photographer is coming to take our photographs. (How is the letter "t" pronounced?)  There are four American /t/ variations: (a) the aspirated, exploded "t" in a stressed syllable in to, take and phoTAgrapher; (b) the flap "d" not exploded in PHOdagraphs; the unreleased, not popped final /t/ in that; (d) the glottal "tn" in certain, pronounced "CERT-n" not "cer-ten."
   5. We're setting the table with dishes, cups, napkins, forks, knives and spoons. (How are the plural endings pronounced?) The plural noun dishes ends in "iz" because the last sound in "dish"  is "sh," a sibilant or hissing sound; napkins, knives, spoons and in a /z/ sound because the plural letter "s" follows a voiced consonant;  cups and forks end in an "s" sound because the last sounds of the singular /p/ and /k/ are also unvoiced. /z/ is voiced and /s/ in unvoiced.
   6. The sanitation workers were on strike and refused to collect the refuse. The verb refused is pronounced "reeFEWzd" and REfuse meaning garbage is pronounced REHfewss.  
 Can your native speaker tell you the rules governing his correct pronunciation?  

Your native speaker will have pronounced the words in bold italics correctly but will probably not be able to tell you the rule because the rule was internalized unconsciously when he or she "absorbed"  English as a young child! Only a non-native speaker will need to learn these rules and practice pronouncing the words correctly until they sound "familiar" and become a new habit.
   We invite you to click on Triangle Speech Services  to visit our informative website. You will discover much more about the process and content of accent modification training, especially if you watch the videos and read some of our past newsletters on the newsletter archive page.
    We are fairly certain that your native speaker  could not tell you why he or she pronounced the target words correctly.
   Managers, forward this newsletter to your international "stars" who might be interested in this professional training opportunity.    We are looking forward to hearing from you.


Judith L. Bergman M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist and Corporate Speech Trainer
Founder & Director of Triangle Speech Services