Rachel's English

Unstressed Syllables: Consonants


I've spent some time talking about unaccented syllables that contain vowel sounds I want to take a minute to talk about unaccented syllables in which the sound is a consonant sound. The first one: rr. Now, rr can be the R consonant [ɹ] or really it can be the 'ur' as in 'her' [ɜ] vowel. To me, rr, ur, they are the same sound. One functions as a consonant, and one functions as a vowel, meaning it's usually a little longer.

So, when words end in ER, they take this rr sound for the entire syllable. Now, it will be written in IPA with a schwa and an r [əɹ] but for me it goes straight into this rr sound. For example, water. Wa-ter. There's no real schwa in there. Father, daughter. So all of these, for me, go straight into the rr sound, where the rr makes up the whole syllable.


The second sound is the dark L. Now, if you've seen my other videos you know that the dark L, which is an L that comes at the end of a syllable or word really is paired with a vowel. This vowel is not written in IPA but it is similar to the 'uh' as in 'pull' [ʊ], where the lips come away from the mouth a little bit:uul, uul, before the tongue closes up into the L position. Word that have this are words that end in LE. For example, buckle. Kk-ul. Straight from the K to the ul, dark L sound. Bottle, d-ul, again, straight into that sound. Ankle, kk-ul, ankle. Example, pp-ul, example.The next sound is the M consonant sound. Now again, this is written with the schwa. And it can be argued if the consonant before is voiced,that you have to slide through a schwa to get to the voiced M but this is another sound in which I really feel, when it is unaccented, that sometimes it takes up the entire syllable with no vowel. For example: fathom. Tt-mm, straight from that voiced TH into the M. Fathom. Awesome. Awesome: ss-mm. For me again, it goes straight from the one consonant sound into the M sound.And the last sound is related to the M, it is the N. Wisconson: ssnn, ssnn. Cotton, dolphin, cousin. So again for me, these are all words in which the N takes up really the whole of the unaccented syllable, leaving no room for a vowel. 

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