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  • You guys love Ben Franklin videos.

  • They're one of the best ways for you to improve listening comprehension and

  • learn tricks to sound more natural when speaking English, like using specific reductions.

  • This January, you're getting five all new Ben Franklin videos

  • where we do a full analysis of real American English conversations.

  • Today's topic: grocery shopping.

  • Let's get started with this analysis.

  • First, the whole conversation.

  • I just got my first weird look.

  • But you know what? At the end of the day,

  • - it doesn't matter. - I know.

  • At the end of the day, it's the students who matter.

  • That's right.

  • - Ok green beans. - Ooo.

  • - Cranberries. Fresh. - Oh yeah.

  • Oh, and I was hoping that we wouldn't have to buy a huge bag.

  • How many do we need?

  • Now, The analysis.

  • I just got my first weird look.

  • I just got my first weird look.

  • The words that I hear being the most stressed there are just, weird, and look.

  • They're a little bit longer: So I just got my first weird look.

  • Let's talk about the pronunciations of T here. They're interesting.

  • First, we have a stop T in 'got my'.

  • This is how we usually pronounce an ending T when the next word begins with a consonant.

  • Got my-- So it's not: gah my-- gah my-- with a continuous flow of sound

  • but it's: got my-- got-- an abrupt stop for the word, then the word 'my'.

  • Got my- We stopped the air in our throat and that signifies the stop T.

  • Got my--

  • Got my-- Got my-- Got my--

  • The other two T's are also ending T's but now they're part of a cluster, the ST cluster

  • and it's very common when a T is between two other consonants, to drop that T.

  • So if you look, when we link the two words together, which we always do

  • with a thought group, the T's now come between two consonants.

  • So we will drop them. This is so common with ST ending clusters.

  • When the next word begins the consonant, we drop it.

  • So the word 'just' is a very common word and when it is followed by a consonant word, we drop that T sound.

  • So instead of 'I just got' it becomes 'I just got'

  • Just got- The S sound right into the G.

  • Does this sound familiar to you?

  • Do you think you've heard Americans doing this?

  • It's really common.

  • Just got-

  • Just got- Just got- Just got my first weird look.

  • And for 'first weird', we pronounce that: first weird- firsts weird-

  • Right from the S into the W

  • and this helps us link the two words more smoothly,

  • and we always like a smooth line in American English.

  • First weird look. First weird look. First weird look.

  • But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

  • She's speaking really quickly here:

  • But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

  • So even though she's speaking really quickly,

  • some of the syllables are a little bit longer and that's what helps make it clear to a native listener.

  • Let's just look at the first sentence: But you know what?

  • 'Know' and 'what' both a little bit longer, we have a stop T at the end of 'what'.

  • But you know what?

  • The intonation goes up at the end, it's a yes/no question.

  • But you know what? But you know what? But you know what?

  • What about 'but' and 'you'?

  • She pronounces that so quickly: but you- but you-

  • She actually drops the T which isn't that common in general

  • but in this phrase, which is pretty common,

  • But you know what? Or You know what?

  • We say that quite a bit and in a phrase that's more common,

  • we tend to do even more reductions because of the familiarity.

  • We know that it will still be understood.

  • So it's very common to pronounce this phrase: But you know what?

  • But you- But you- But you- But you-

  • These two words linked together, said very quickly, become just the B sound and the schwa,

  • buh- buh- buh-

  • then the Y sound, and the schwa, a common reduction of the word 'you'.

  • But you- But you- But you- But you know what?

  • But you know what? But you know what? But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

  • At the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

  • 'End' a little bit longer.

  • At the end--

  • At the end--

  • Of the day--

  • It doesn't ma--tter.

  • So those syllables are a little bit longer

  • which provides a little contrast with her very fast speech, her very fast unstressed words.

  • And we do need this contrast of stressed and unstressed to sound natural in American English.

  • So let's look at the unstressed words 'at' and 'the'.

  • At the end of the day-

  • At the end of the day-

  • At the end of the day-

  • It's actually 'at the' and the vowel is so fast.

  • This can either be the whole AH vowel or it can be the schwa:

  • but- but- but- or at- at- at- at-

  • At the end of the day--

  • At the end of the day---

  • At the end of the day--

  • It doesn't really matter. What matters is that it said incredibly quickly.

  • We have a stop T so the word 'at' is cut off a little abrupt.

  • You stop the air in your throat and the E here is pronounced as the EE as in she vowel

  • because the next word begins with a vowel or diphthong sound.

  • If the next word began with a consonant sound,

  • then it would be: the- which is what we get here.

  • Here, it's pronounced as the schwa because the next sound is a consonant sound.

  • So we have 'the end' and 'the day'.

  • But of course it's not pronounced that clearly, is it?

  • Because this isn't an important word, so it's: at the-- at the-- at the-- at the--

  • at the end of the day-- at the end of the day-- at the end of the day--

  • 'Of' and 'the' becomes: of the-- of the--

  • The whole word 'of' is reduced to just the schwa, which we link on to the word 'the'.

  • of the-- of the-- of the--

  • end of the day--

  • end of the day--

  • at the end of the day--

  • end of the day-- the end of the day-- end of the day--

  • So making these less important words really quickly helps provide the contrast we need.

  • Practice that with me.

  • at the- at the- at the-

  • of the- of the- of the-

  • at the end of the day-- at the end of the day--

  • At the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

  • The words 'it' and 'doesn't' also said pretty quickly.

  • Another stop T here.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • It doesn't matter. Now I think I hear the T here being totally dropped as well.

  • This is pretty common. We either drop the T or we make it sort of a nasal stop sound to signify the NT:

  • doesn't-- nt-- nt-- nt-- nt--

  • But here, I think she's just making the N sound glide right into the M sound:

  • doesn't matter--

  • And because of that smooth connection, there's no stop.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • The word 'it' very quick stop after 'it'

  • but these two words are still said pretty quickly: it doesn't-- It doesn't matter.

  • And then the stressed syllable ah with the AH vowel in 'matter' and then we have a flap T: matter.

  • - It doesn't matter. - I know.

  • - It doesn't matter. - I know.

  • - It doesn't matter. - I know.

  • I know. I know.

  • So I said this at the same time she was saying doesn't matter.

  • I know.

  • It's a two-word phrase and stress is on the word 'know'

  • but the pitch of the whole phrase is smooth. It's not: I know.

  • But it's this smooth line connecting.

  • I know.

  • It's the smooth change in pitch. This rise and fall of intonation

  • that makes one of the characteristics of American English.

  • Smooth transitions. We want the words to be linked.

  • We want the change in intonation to be smooth so that nothing's choppy.

  • I know.

  • I know. I know. I know.

  • At the end of the day--

  • At the end of the day--

  • Now here I definitely reduce the vowel to the schwa: but at- Stop T.

  • At the end of the day--

  • Again, the whole phrase is very smooth.

  • At the end of the day-

  • with 'end' and 'day' being a little bit longer, also having that peak in intonation.

  • Again, the letter E here makes the EE as in she vowel because the next word begins with a vowel sound.

  • And here it makes the schwa because the next word begins with a consonant.

  • So we have: at the-- at the end--

  • and then I also drop the V sound and make just the schwa.

  • of the--

  • of the-- of the-- of the--

  • These two words said very quickly: of the day--

  • At the end of the day--

  • At the end of the day-- At the end of the day--

  • At the end of the day, it's the students who matter.

  • It's the students who matter.

  • And here 'stu-' is the most stressed syllable of that phrase. Ma-- also a little stressed.

  • Again, we have a flap T here: matter-

  • It's the students who matter.

  • It's the- said quickly: it's the- it's the- it's the-

  • it's the stu-- it's the stu-- it's the stu--

  • Stu-- dents who-- dents who-- dents who--

  • Students-- Students-- Students--

  • Then these two syllables more quickly.

  • Ma-- another little stretch.

  • It's the students who matter. Aaahhhh--

  • Smooth change in intonation with peaks on the stressed syllables.

  • It's the students who matter.

  • It's the students who matter.

  • It's the students who matter.

  • That's right.

  • That's right. That's right. That's right.

  • The TH sound here not terribly clear.

  • She's not bringing the tongue tip through the teeth for it but she's

  • pressing the tongue tip on the backs of the teeth where the top and bottom teeth meet.

  • that's- that's- that's- that's- that's- That's right.

  • It allows us to make that sound a little bit more quickly: That's right.

  • That's right. That's right. That's right.

  • Now here, we have the TS cluster into the R.

  • All of these sounds are pronounced. we get ts-- and then er--

  • That's right. That's right.

  • But this is a stop T where we cut off the air,

  • the pitch doesn't fall down slowly.

  • We have an abrupt stop. Right-- right-- That's right.

  • Right-- right-- right--

  • Okay, green beans.

  • Okay, green beans.

  • 'Green' most stressed word in that phrase and the pitch is all smooth.

  • Okay, green beans.

  • The pitch goes up, energy builds towards the stressed word, and then it falls away: beans-- afterwards.

  • Green beans.

  • Green beans.

  • Green beans.

  • While I say that, Laura says: Oooh. Oooh. Oooh.

  • Just a little exclamation you make when you notice something

  • or something's important, you want to call attention to it or if you get

  • excited about something. Oooh. Look at that.

  • - Green beans. - Oooh.

  • - Green beans. - Oooh.

  • - Green beans. - Oooh.

  • Cranberries.

  • Cranberries.

  • Cranberries. Cranberries.

  • Stress is on the first syllable there. That's a three syllable word,

  • so the first syllable is 'cran' and the last two syllables are: berries- berries- berries-

  • They're a little less clear, a little bit more mumbled,

  • that's how unstressed syllables sound.

  • Cranberries.

  • Cranberries.

  • Cranberries.

  • Cranberries.

  • Fresh.

  • Fresh.

  • Fresh.

  • What do you notice about the intonation of that word?

  • Fresh.

  • It moves up and down.

  • And that is the shape of a stressed syllable.

  • Fresh.

  • Fresh.

  • Fresh.

  • We don't want flat pitches in American English.

  • Fresh.

  • Fresh.

  • - Fresh. - Oh yeah.

  • Oh yeah.

  • Oh yeah.

  • A little unclear because my head is turned so I'm not facing the mic.

  • Oh yeah.

  • But you can still hear that the intonation is nice and smooth. Oh yeah.

  • Oh yeah. The words linked together. There's no separation of the two words.

  • Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

  • Oh, and I was hoping--

  • Oh. Oh. This is like 'ooh' it's just a filler word, an exclamation: Oh. Oh.

  • Do you need some lip rounding for the second half of that diphthong? Oh.

  • Oh. Oh. And I was hoping that we wouldn't have to buy a huge bag.

  • And I was hoping that we wouldn't have to buy a huge bag.