Pronunciation in English

Language Skills

Poster of the King's SpeechPronunciation is the way in which words and phrases‏‎ are spoken.

Words & phrases can be said in different ways by different groups of people or individuals and under different circumstances. Several factors influence the way we pronounce words, from the way we have been brought up to the shape of our mouth.

Education plays a big part. People who leave school early or who do not attend school at all, tend to have a very different pronunciation from those who have spent time at, say, university with a wider range of people.

Another important factor is how long we have been exposed to the spoken language, whether we have been listening to it since we were young or whether we came to it later in life as is the case of many learners. In this latter case there is also the factor of our own mother tongue influencing the way we speak.

Where we live also influences the way we speak. Belonging to an ethnic group will undoubtedly influence our pronunciation and of course regional variations occur.

And, of course, our social status plays a part. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that the higher we are on the social ladder the better is our pronunciation but simply that each level has its own distinctive features when it comes to pronunciation.

Last but not least, various types of malformation and birth defects such as a cleft palate or cleft lips can impact the way you pronounce sound and be change the way sounds are made.

In Linguistics Terms

Phones are the smallest identifiable units found in a stream of speech and are usually described using the IPA – International Phonetic Alphabet. The branch of Linguistics‏‎ which studies the units of sound is Phonetics‏‎. Phonology‏‎ instead is the branch of Linguistics which focuses largely on the study of the systems of phonemes in particular languages.

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