I thought I would do something a little bit different today, which is to share a video, because I wanted to talk to you about pronunciation. I know that many of you tell me that there are certain sounds in English which can be really tricky, even if you have been living in the UK for a while, or speak English at a very high level.
The sound that is particularly challenging is the ‘h’ sound, that sounds like ‘huh’, which comes up in certain common words. Here is my voice guide & explanation about the particular parts of the word to pay attention to.
The first category is a group of words which are spelt with an ‘h’ at the beginning of the word but you do not actually pronounce it, so it is a silent ‘h’ sound. These are found, for example, in these words:
In all these examples, you can hear that there is no ‘huh’ sound coming through at all at the start of the word, so make sure you focus on that & do not try to put the ‘huh’ in!
The next group are words that are spelt with the ‘w’ letter at the start, but actually have the ‘huh’ sound coming through. For example, words like ‘who’. Similarly, another one that trips people up is ‘whole’, as in the American shop which is called ‘Wholefoods’ & often gets mispronounced by people trying to insert a ‘w’ sound.
Now, there is one final word I am going to share, because I know people stumble over it & that is the word ‘hierarchy’.
I want to show you how you can pronounce this correctly by breaking it into three parts:
- Start with the first sound: ‘hire’
- Then you have ‘ra’
- Finally you have ‘key’.
If you put it together: ‘hire-ra-key’.
If you are somebody who finds this ‘huh’ sound tricky, then one final exercise you can do is to think about two similar words, one with a ‘huh’ sound & one without, for example ‘Hair’ – ‘air’. You can repeat these two words to make sure you are getting the differentiation really clear between them.
Victoria Rennoldson, Founder of Perfect Cuppa English
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