Pronunciation, English language, Phonetics, Vowels

How to Improve Your English Pronunciation: Ultimate Guide And Essential Techniques To British Accent for 2023

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  • Post last modified:5 December 2023

Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 09:12 pm

Improve your English pronunciation with our essential techniques and exercises.

Whether you’re a non-native speaker or looking to fine-tune your skills, our guide will help you speak English with confidence and clarity. Learn how to master difficult sounds, use stress and intonation effectively, and practice with exercises designed to improve your pronunciation. Start speaking like a native with our expert tips and practical advice.

Try to read the follwoing:

/wʌn əv ðə dɪˈzæstrəs ˈerərz əv ˈskɒtɪʃ ˌdɛvəˈluːʃ(ə)n wəz tə kriːˈeɪt ə ˈsɪŋɡ(ə)l pəˈliːs fɔːs ɪn ˈskɒtlənd. ðɪs ɪnˈɛvɪtəbli lɛd tuː ɪkˈsɛsɪv SNP pəˈlɪtɪk(ə)l kənˈtrəʊl. pəˈliːs ˈskɒtlənd stændz əˈkjuːzd əv pəˈspəʊnɪŋ ðiː ˈiːv(ə)l deɪ tuː əˈlaʊ mɪz stɜːgən tuː rɪˈzaɪn əz fɜːst ˈmɪnɪstər ənd ə nju SNP ˈliːdə tuː biː ɪˈlɛktɪd bɪfɔː ðə ˈskændl brəʊk. /

No worries, if you can’t make any sense of it, you are just like me 10 years ago. After going through practices and drills you will be able to read a transcript like that below.

As an ardent pursuant of British English and Received Pronunciation or RP, I am going to assist people who are struggling with appropriate pronunciation in their day-to-day life. Pronunciation is quite an affair that sometimes determines our standard of choice and cultural quality. Because of pronunciation and the deplorable quality of English, many are still lagging behind in the global market while many other sheen employment prospects are getting away from our hands. Having said that, I am not suggesting anglicised local British pronunciation is sometimes does not fulfil pronunciation criteria and incomprehensible to many speakers.

Moreover, proper use of any language sets qualitative standards for the language we speak and skilful use of language helps us influence people.

As a strong lover of British pronunciation, I have studied plenty of books and watched videos and spent numerous days watching BBC news, podcasts and films.

After spending almost, a decade I have come to distinguish the American and British pronunciations.

Like in any language, English is rich with intonations, rhythm, assimilation, apocope, syncope and stress.

Stress is very important to learn proper pronunciations when we look up dictionaries. A good dictionary always has pronunciation guides. Intonation is the “melody” of language. It is the pattern of the higher and lower pitch as we speak. It helps us to understand languages in different ways, in fact, the same statement in different ways. Intonation can change a statement into a question or a polite request into a rude command.

It can make a speaker sound happy, sad, sincere, angry, confused, or defensive. Suppose /subject/ has two different pronunciations depending on the noun or verb.

Stress, primary (ˈ) and secondary (ˌ)

We know that in every polysyllabic word, one syllable has the main stress or primary stress.

In longer words, there is often another syllable that receives a little stress (in “congratulation”/kənˌɡrætʃəˈleɪʃn/ ‘gra’ receives less stress as the second syllable while ‘la’ has the higher or primary stress); but not as much as the main-stress syllable. We say this syllable has secondary stress. For example, the word congratulations has five syllables, with the primary stress on the fourth syllable and secondary stress on the second syllable.

Textbooks and dictionaries use two main ways of indicating stress in words when Unstressed syllables are usually not marked. A small vertical line (ˈ) above the line of type at the beginning of a syllable shows primary stress and a small vertical line below the line (ˌ) of type at the beginning of a syllable shows secondary stress. In English, sometimes the only difference between a verb and a noun is the pattern of stress: we reject the reject, record the record, convert the convert, insult someone with an insult, etc.

It determines which accented English we are speaking. In spoken English unstressed syllables are weak and occupy less time than stressed syllables; consequently, unstressed syllables do not have the full vowels of stressed syllables.

The pronunciations of some words may be different in the stressed position and unstressed position.

The way stress system works in English language

Rhotic

Some speakers pronounce an ‘r’ sound at the end of words like ‘robber’ and some speakers do not.

This is largely down to the speaker’s regional accent. Speakers who do pronounce an ‘r’ in this position are called rhotic speakers, and will always pronounce an <r> whenever it occurs in the spelling of a word, whereas those from Australia, London and the South East, and northern parts of England are likely to be non-rhotic – thus SSBE (Standard Southern British English) is non-rhotic.

Allophone

Listeners of English of non-English background get easily confused as they do not find a resemblance between American and British pronunciations, the two most dominant forms.

For some English is just English. Apart from the rhotic sound of ‘r’ in the two accents, there is another problem for us. We are surprised to find out that in the American accent the sound of /t/ comes as/d/, as in ‘matter’ and ‘butter’. The first “extra” allophone of /t/ is the sound that we usually hear in American English in the middle of words like, ‘Water’, ‘city’, and ‘bottle’. This is a voiced sound called an alveolar tap or tap.

The tongue taps the alveolar ridge very quickly so that it sounds like a quick /d/. The tap is represented by this symbol: [ɾ]. It’s very much like the sound represented by the letter “r” in Spanish and many other languages, but it’s different from an English /r/. When we say an English /r/, the tongue doesn’t touch the alveolar ridge. For the flap, it does, ˈLetter and ˈLadder sound the same. • ˈWriting and ˈRiding sound the same.

American English speakers produce a tap instead of a plosive for “t” and “d” in words like “city,” “pretty,” “shady,” “Eddie,” “felicity,” “automatic,” “ladder” (essentially, these consonants become taps when they occur between any two vowels, the second of which is unstressed).

The IPA symbol for this tap is [ ɾ].

The vowel systems of RP and GA (General American) have many phonemes in common but differ in some respects. In total, RP has 23 phonemic vowels, whereas GA has 16. Traditionally, vowels are divided into monophthongs (one vowel, also sometimes referred to as ‘pure vowel’), diphthongs (two vowels in a sequence) and triphthongs (a sequence of three vowels).

The word see contains the monophthong as in liI, the word say contains the diphthong as in tail or leIl, whereas the RP pronunciation of the word fire contains a triphthong – the sequence /aɪə/ as in fire.

Dropping and intrusion

The dropping of words sounds unusual in American English.

Advantage sounds like “avantage”, February sounds like “febuary“, Wednesday sounds like “wensday”, Interesting sounds like “inneresting”, interview sounds like “innreview”, International sounds like ‘innernational”, carpenter like “canpenner” and so on, while because of intrusive /r/ the words /ideas/ sounds like “idea-r” and ‘law and order sound like ‘larenorder”.

The intrusive /r/ takes place in the pronunciation of /r/ at the end of a word which originally did not have this phoneme.

Intending to tell about my linguistic knowledge, I am going to talk about the 47 sounds of the English language which include ‘Short Vowels’, ‘Long Vowels’, ‘Diphthongs’, ‘Voiceless Consonants’ and ‘Voiced Consonants’ with help of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English and occasionally Bangla Academy English to Bengali dictionary.

What is Language and how does it work

Language is ‘audile, articulate speech as produced by the action of the tongue and adjacent vocal organs…..The body of words and method of combining words used and understood by a considerable community, especially when fixed and elaborated by long use; a tongue’- Webster International Dictionary.

As you have taken heart to go through this pronunciation learning process you will also have to bear in mind this is a scientific method of learning to be familiar with signs and symbols of the English language and their sounds.

Having said that, language is based on two objectives: competence and performance. ‘competence, says Noam Chomsky, is the native speaker’s knowledge of his language, the system of rules he has mustered, his ability to produce and understand rules, and performance is the study of the actual sentences themselves, of the actual use of a language, is a real-life situation’. Again, whereas competence is a set of Principles which a speaker musters performance is what a speaker does in real life.

Therefore, competence is a kind of code and performance is an act of encoding or decoding. Competence concerns the kind of structure the person has succeeded in mustering and internalizing, whether or not he utilizes them, in practice, without interference from many factors that play a role in actual behaviour’, says Noam Chomsky.

Phonetics is the scientific study production, transmission and reception of speech sounds.

It studies the defining characteristics of all human vocal noise and concentrates its attention on those sounds which occur in the language of the world.

In learning phonetics, the speaker or learner uses his lungs, larynx, soft palate, tongue and lips in the production of speech.

short vowels probinism
long vowels pic

Vowels may be defined with an open approximation without any obstruction, partial or complete, in the air passage.

They are referred to as vocoids (vowel sounds) in phonetics. They can be described in terms of three variations:

a) Height of tongue
b) Part of the tongue which is raised or lowered
c) Lip-rounding

Going by the descriptions, Vocoids or vowel sounds can be typified by three criteria:
In order to describe the vowels, we usually draw three horizontal axes: front, central and back. So we have-

  1. Frontal Vowels: during the production of which the front of the tongue is raised toward the hard palate e.g. /ɪ/, /e/, /iː/ and /æ/.
  2. Back Vowels: during the production of which the back of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate e.g. /ʊ/, /uː/, /ɔː/, and /ɒ/ as in put, book, caught and pot.
  3. Central Vowels: during the production of which the central part of the tongue is raised e.g. /ə/ and /ʌ/ as in about and but.

This article is solely premised on RP or Received Pronunciations. According to Oxford Advanced Leaner’s Dictionary and Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, RP or ‘Received Pronunciation’ is the standard form of British pronunciation, based on educated speech in southern England, or the form of British pronunciation that many educated people in Britain use, and that is thought of as the standard form.

Diphthongs pronunciations
Voiceless consonants pronunciations
Voiced consonants of English phonetics

Pronunciations of the short vowels

Short vowel: /ɪ/

The phonetic short vowel /ɪ/ is a sound that is pronounced with the mouth slightly open and the tongue positioned near the front of the mouth.

It is similar in sound to the /ih/ sound in the words “bit” or “tin”. When pronouncing this sound, the lips are relaxed and the vocal cords vibrate to create a buzzing sound. The tongue is positioned in the middle of the mouth, but not touching the roof of the mouth, and the air flows freely through the mouth.

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the symbol for the /ɪ/ sound is a small capital “I”.

This sound is found in many languages, including English, where it is often used to differentiate between words with similar spellings but different meanings, such as “bit” and “beat” or “ship” and “sheep”.

For Bengali speakers, according to Bangla Academy Dictionary, it is represented by –ই- দিয়ে। উচ্চারণত বাংলা লিপিতে ই এবং ঈ থাকলেও মুলত এদের একটি ধ্বনিই আছে আর তা হল-ই। কিন্তু ইংরেজিতে /ɪ/ এবং /iː/ বা ই এবং ঈ’র দুটি আদালা ধ্বনি। বাংলায় sit এবং seat শব্দ দুটি উচ্চারণে অভিন্ন মনে হলেও ইংরেজিতে দুটি উচ্চারণই সম্পূর্ণ আলাদা।  The matter of the fact is, in Bengali there is no distinguishable differences between the two sounds. Therefore, the sound of the vowel mentioned is very short as it name represents and we must not mix up /ɪ/ with /iː/ long sound as used in seat.

The following table contains some examples of sound. Following the table we do not notice any differences between British and American pronunciation as we have taken only a few words for the sake of examples. /ˈmɪnɪt/ is the unit of time whereas/maɪˈnjuːt/ means to say tiny, extremely small or very detailed. 

Demonstration of short vowel /ɪ/

Short vowel: /ʊ/

The phonetic short vowel /ʊ/ is pronounced with the lips forming a rounded shape, similar to the “oo” sound in the word “book” (/bʊk/).

It is a back vowel, meaning the tongue is positioned towards the back of the mouth. When pronouncing the sound, the tongue is raised slightly towards the roof of the mouth, but not as much as with the “uː” sound in “boot” (/buːt/). The “ʊ” sound is typically found in English words such as “put” (/pʊt/), “could” (British strong form /kʊd/), and “pull” ( /pʊl/).

It is important to note that the exact pronunciation of this sound can vary depending on dialect and accent.

However, in general, it is a short, rounded vowel sound produced with a relatively relaxed mouth position.

Demonstration of short vowel /ʊ/

Short vowel: /ʌ/

The phonetic symbol /ʌ/ represents the short vowel sound that is typically pronounced with the tongue positioned low in the mouth and the lips relaxed.

This sound is commonly found in English words such as “cut,  (/kʌt/) ” “hut,( /hʌt/)” and “but” (British strong form /bʌt/). When producing this sound, the back of the tongue is lowered, while the middle part of the tongue is raised slightly towards the roof of the mouth. This creates a relatively open space for air to pass through the mouth, resulting in a short, crisp sound.

It is important to note that the exact pronunciation of the /ʌ/ sound can vary depending on the speaker’s accent or dialect.

However, in general, it is a relatively neutral and versatile sound that is commonly used in English communication.

Demonstration of short vowel /ʌ/

Short vowel: / ɒ /

The phonetic short vowel /ɒ/ is a low-back vowel sound that is commonly found in British English.

It is pronounced with the tongue placed low and at the back of the mouth, and the lips are slightly rounded. To produce this sound, you should start with your mouth slightly open and your lips rounded. Then, pull your tongue back towards the back of your mouth, so that the middle of your tongue is lowered and the sides of your tongue touch the sides of your back teeth. The airflow should be unobstructed as the sound is produced, resulting in a short, open vowel sound.

Some common English words that contain this sound include “hot,” “not, /hɒt/ (US /hɑːt/) , “lot ” ( /lɒt/, US /lɑːt/) and “cot” (/kɒt/) USN-(/kɑːt/).

It is important to note that the exact pronunciation of this sound may vary slightly depending on regional accents and dialects.

Demonstration of short vowel /ɜː/

Short vowel: /ə/

The phonetic short vowel /ə/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is called the schwa sound.

It is a neutral vowel sound that is produced with the tongue in a central, relaxed position in the mouth. The lips are also relaxed and slightly spread. The schwa sound is a very common sound in English, and it appears in unstressed syllables in many words. For example, it appears in the first syllable of the word “about” or the second syllable of the word “banana”. When pronouncing the schwa sound, the mouth is slightly open and the vocal cords are relaxed.

The sound is very short and unstressed, and it is often pronounced quickly and with little emphasis. In RP, it is usually represented by the symbol /ə/ in phonetic transcriptions.

Overall, the schwa sound is an important sound to master for English learners, as it is so common in the language.

Pronunciation demonstration of short vowel /ə/

Short vowel: /e/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic short vowel /e/ is pronounced as a mid-front unrounded vowel.

It is produced with the tongue positioned in the middle of the mouth and the front of the tongue slightly raised towards the hard palate. The lips are unrounded. The sound can be heard in words such as “bed” /bed/, “pet” pet/, and “set” /set/. It is typically transcribed as /ɛ/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). It is important to note that there can be variations in the way the /e/ sound is pronounced in different accents and dialects of English.

Pronunciation demonstration of short vowel /e/

Short vowel: /æ/

The phonetic short vowel /æ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a mid-front vowel sound.

It is pronounced with the mouth slightly open and the tongue positioned toward the front of the mouth, but not touching the teeth. The lips are typically spread apart and pulled back slightly. The /æ/ sound is typically found in words like “cat” /kæt/,” “hat” /hæt/,” “man, /mæn/ ” and “trap” (/træp/). It is considered a short vowel sound, meaning it is pronounced for a relatively short amount of time compared to long vowels.

In RP, the /æ/ sound is often described as being similar to the vowel sound in the word “cat” or “bat,” but it can vary slightly depending on the speaker and the specific word in which it appears.

Overall, the sound is relatively open and unrounded, with a slight emphasis on the mid-front position of the tongue.

Pronunciation demonstration of short vowel /æ/

Pronunciations of long vowels

Long vowel: /iː/

The phonetic long vowel /iː/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a close, front vowel sound.

It is pronounced with the mouth nearly closed and the tongue high and front in the mouth. The lips are slightly spread and the sound is produced without any noticeable rounding. To produce this sound, the tongue should be raised towards the hard palate of the mouth while the lips are spread horizontally. The sound is held for a longer duration than its short counterpart /ɪ/ as in “kit”.

Some examples of words with the /iː/ sound in RP include “beet”( /biːt/), “heat” (/hiːt/) “, “sheep” (ʃiːp/), “we” (British strong form /wiː/) “, and “see” ( /siː/).

It is important to note that the sound may vary slightly depending on the speaker’s accent or dialect.

Pronunciation demonstration of long vowel /iː/

Long vowel: /uː/

The phonetic long vowel /uː/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) is pronounced with the tongue positioned high and towards the back of the mouth, with rounded lips.

This sound is produced by vibrating the vocal cords while the air flows freely through the mouth. To articulate this sound, the back of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate, creating a narrow opening at the back of the mouth. The lips are then rounded, making a small, circular opening. The resulting sound is similar to the “oo” sound in Moon (/muːn/), Spoon (/spuːn/), Soon (/suːn/), Blue (/bluː/), Shoe (/ʃuː/), Smooth (/smuːð/), Juice (/dʒuːs/) , Choose (/tʃuːz/), Flu (/fluː/), etc.

It is a distinct sound from the shorter /u/ sound in words such as “come”(/kʌm/) or “bus” (/bʌs/),” which is pronounced with a less rounded lips and a slightly lower tongue position.

Pronunciation demonstration of long vowel /uː/

Long vowel: /ɑː/

The phonetic long vowel /ɑː/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) is pronounced with an open-back unrounded vowel sound.

To produce this sound, the mouth is opened wide with the tongue positioned at the back of the mouth, creating a spacious cavity for the sound to resonate. The lips are unrounded, and the vocal cords are tensed to produce a clear and sustained sound.

The /ɑː/ sound is often found in words such as start (/stɑːt/), park/pɑːk/, smart/smɑːt/, party /ˈpɑːti/, heart (/hɑːt/), apart (/ə’pɑːt/) and market (/ˈmɑːkɪt/, etc. in RP. It is also used in some loanwords from other languages, such as “bazaar” and “czar”.

It is important to note that the exact pronunciation of this sound may vary depending on the speaker’s accent and the surrounding sounds in a word.

Pronunciation demonstration of long vowel /ɑː/

Long vowel: /ɔː/

The phonetic long vowel /ɔː/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a back, rounded vowel sound.

It is pronounced with the mouth slightly open, the tongue in the back of the mouth, and the lips rounded. The sound is produced by vibrating the vocal cords while narrowing the space between the back of the tongue and the soft palate. To produce the sound, begin with the mouth slightly open and the tongue relaxed. Then, round the lips, while keeping them slightly parted, and move the back of the tongue towards the soft palate.

The sound is longer than the short version of this vowel, which is transcribed as /ɒ/ in RP.

Examples of words that contain the phonetic long vowel /ɔː/ in RP include Ball (/bɔ:l/), Law (/lɔ:), All (/ɔ:l/), Call (/kɔ:l/), Tall ()/tɔ:l/, Wall (/wɔ:l/), Fall (/fɔ:l/), Talk (/tɔ:k/), Walk (/wɔ:k/), Bought (bɔ:t;), Thought (/θɔ:t/), Naught (/ˈnɔ:t/), Caught (kɔ:t;), Fought (/fɔ:t/ ), Sought (/sɔ:t/) Sort (/sɔ:t/), Short (/ʃɔ:t/), Port, (/pɔ:t/), Board (/bɔ:d/), Sword (/sɔ:d/), Four (/fɔ:(r)/), Pour (/pɔ:(r)/), Your (/jɔ:(r)/), Door (/dɔ:(r)/), Floor (/flɔ:(r)/), More (/mɔ:(r)/) and Store (/stɔ:(r)/), etc.

It is important to note that the exact pronunciation of this vowel sound can vary depending on regional accents and individual speech patterns.

Long vowel: /ɜː/

The phonetic long vowel /ɜː/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) is a mid-central vowel sound that is pronounced with the tongue in a relaxed, neutral position in the middle of the mouth.

It is a monophthong, which means that the sound is pronounced with a single, unchanging vowel quality throughout its duration. To produce this sound, the tongue is placed in the neutral position, with the tip of the tongue just behind the lower front teeth and the back of the tongue raised towards the soft palate. The lips are relaxed and slightly open. The sound is prolonged for a relatively long duration compared to other vowel sounds.

In RP, this vowel sound is typically represented by the symbol /ɜː/ in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). It is found in words bird (/bɜːd/), heard (hɜːd;), word (/wɜːd/), world (/wɜːld/), first (/fɜːst/), third (/θɜːd/), girl (/ɡɜːl/), sir (/sɜː(r)/), stir (/stɜː(r)/), herb (/hɜːb/), learn (/lɜːn), earth (/ɜːθ/), early (/ˈɜːli/), search (/sɜːtʃ/), worth (/wɜːθ/), perfect (ˈpɜːfɪkt;), person (/ˈpɜːsn/), service (/ˈsɜːvɪs/) , nervous (/ˈnɜːvəs/) and verdict (/ˈvɜːdɪkt/), etc.

It is important to note that the exact pronunciation of this vowel sound may vary slightly depending on regional accents and individual speech patterns.

Pronunciation demonstration of long vowel /ɜː/

Pronunciations of diphthongs

Diphthong: /ɪə/

The phonetic diphthong /ɪə/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) is a combination of two vowel sounds.

The first sound is an unrounded near-close front vowel, represented by the symbol /ɪ/. It is pronounced with the tongue slightly raised and positioned towards the front of the mouth. The second sound is a rounded near-close front vowel, represented by the symbol /ə/. It is pronounced with the lips slightly rounded and the tongue in a neutral position.

Examples of words that contain the /ɪə/ diphthong in RP include Near (/nɪə(r)/), Here (/hɪə(r)/), Fear (/fɪə(r)/), Tear (/tɪə(r)/), Clear (/klɪə(r)/), Beer /bɪə(r)/(), Cheer (),/tʃɪə(r)/ Sphere (/sfɪə(r)/), Rear (/rɪə(r)/), Spear (/spɪə(r)/), Severe (/sɪˈvɪə(r)), Ear (/ɪə(r)/), Premier (/ˈpremiə(r)/) and Engineer (/ˌendʒɪnɪə(r)/), etc.

When combined, these two sounds create a diphthong that starts with the /ɪ/ sound and moves towards the /ə/ sound, resulting in a sound that is somewhat like “eer” or “ear”.

Demonstration of diphthong /ɪə/

Diphthong: /ʊə/

The phonetic diphthong /ʊə/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a combination of two vowel sounds that merge together to form a single sound.

It is also known as the “oor” diphthong. The first sound in the diphthong is the short, rounded vowel /ʊ/ as in the word “book”. This sound is produced with the lips rounded and pushed forward, and the back of the tongue raised towards the soft palate. The second sound in the diphthong is the mid-central vowel /ə/ as in the word “about”. This sound is produced with the tongue in a neutral position and the lips relaxed.

When these two sounds are combined, the resulting sound is a rising diphthong that starts with the /ʊ/ sound and ends with the /ə/ sound.

It is typically represented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as /ʊə/.

Some examples of words that contain the /ʊə/ diphthong in RP include “Pure (/pjʊə(r)/)demure (/dɪˈmjʊə(r)), manure (/mə’tʃʊə(r)/), procure (/prə’kjʊər/), allure (/ə’ljʊər/), reassure (/ˌriːəˈʃʊə(r)/), impure (/ɪmˈpjʊə(r)/), liqueur (/lɪˈkjʊə(r)/) and obscurely (/əbˈskjʊə(r)/, etc.

Demonstration of diphthong /ʊə/

Diphthong: /aɪ/

The phonetic diphthong /aɪ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a combination of two vowel sounds, /a/ and /ɪ/, which are pronounced together in one syllable.

The /a/ sound is an open mid-front vowel that is produced with the mouth slightly open and the tongue positioned in the middle of the mouth. It is similar to the /a/ sound in the word “cat.” The /ɪ/ sound is a close front unrounded vowel that is produced with the tongue raised towards the front of the mouth and the lips slightly apart. It is similar to the /i/ sound in the word “hit.”

When these two vowel sounds are combined in the diphthong /aɪ/, the sound begins with the “a” sound and moves towards the “ɪ” sound, creating a gliding movement in the mouth. The sound can be heard in words like ‘Buy’ (/baɪ/), Bye (/baɪ/), High (/haɪ/), Fly (/flaɪ/), Cry (/kraɪ/), Dry (/kraɪ/), Fry (/fraɪ/), Sky (/skaɪ/), Guy (/ɡaɪ/) and Pie (/paɪ/), etc.

In RP, this diphthong is pronounced with a slightly longer duration than in other English accents, and the transition between the two sounds is smooth and gradual.

Demonstration of diphthong /aɪ/

Diphthong: /ɔɪ/

The phonetic diphthong /ɔɪ/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) is a combination of two vowel sounds that are pronounced quickly together.

The first sound is the open-mid back rounded vowel /ɔ/, which is pronounced with the tongue in a low position and the lips rounded. It is similar to the vowel sound in the word “thought” or “bought”. The second sound is the near-close near-front rounded vowel /ɪ/, which is pronounced with the tongue in a slightly higher position and the lips rounded. It is similar to the vowel sound in the word “bit” or “kit”.

When these two sounds are combined, the resulting diphthong /ɔɪ/ starts with the open-mid back rounded vowel “ɔ” and transitions smoothly to the near-close near-front rounded vowel /ɪ/.

The diphthong /ɔɪ/ can be heard in words such as “boy”(/bɔɪ/), “coin” (/kɔɪn/), “joy”(/dʒɔɪ/), “royal”(/ˈrɔɪəl/), “toilet”(/ˈtɔɪlət/), “loyal”(/ˈlɔɪəl/), “point”(/pɔɪnt/), and “moist” and  (/mɔɪst/), etc.

Demonstration of diphthong /ɔɪ/

Diphthong: /əʊ/

The phonetic diphthong /əʊ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a combination of two vowel sounds: the mid-back rounded vowel /o/ and the schwa vowel /ə/.

This diphthong is also known as the “long o” sound. In RP, the starting position of this diphthong is the mid-back rounded vowel /o/, which is pronounced with the lips rounded and slightly protruded. The tongue is positioned in the middle of the mouth, with the back part raised towards the soft palate. The sound is produced with a relaxed and open mouth. The second part of the diphthong is the schwa vowel /ə/, which is a neutral vowel sound pronounced with the tongue in a central position and the lips relaxed.

The sound is produced with a very open mouth.

When pronouncing the /əʊ/ diphthong in RP, the starting position of the mid-back rounded vowel /o/ glides smoothly and gradually towards the schwa vowel /ə/.

The mouth opens slightly and the lips relax as the sound moves towards the end of the diphthong. The tongue moves from the back to the centre of the mouth during the glide.

Overall, the /əʊ/ diphthong in RP can be described as a smooth, gliding sound that starts with a rounded mid-back vowel and moves towards a neutral schwa vowel. It is typically found in words such as “go (/ɡəʊ/), so (/səʊ/), no (/nəʊ/), hope (/həʊp/), globe (/ɡləʊb/), code (/kəʊd/), mode (/məʊd/), note (/nətʊ/), coat (/kətʊ/), , toad (/təd/ʊ), bone (bənʊ/), cone (/kənʊ/) and phone (/fənʊ/), etc.

Demonstration of diphthong /əʊ/

Diphthong: /eə/

The phonetic diphthong /eə/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) represents a combination of two vowel sounds that occur within a single syllable.

This diphthong is represented by the IPA symbol /eə/ and is commonly referred to as the “square” or “hair” diphthong. It is pronounced by starting with the front mid-vowel /e/, which is similar to the “ay” sound in the word “day,” and then transitioning to the near-open central vowel /ə/, which is similar to the “uh” sound in the word “butter.”

The first sound /e/ is pronounced with the tongue in a relatively high and front position, while the second sound /ə/ is pronounced with the tongue in a central and relaxed position.

The transition between the two sounds is smooth and continuous, without a break or pause between them.

Some examples of words that contain the /eə/ diphthong in RP include Bear (/beə(r)/), Pair (/peə(r)/), Pear (/peə(r)/), Care (/keə(r)/), airfare (/ˈeəfeə(r)/), Square (/skweə(r)/), Staircase (/ˈsteəkeɪs/), Rare (/reə(r)/), Prayer (/preə(r)/), Swear (/sweə(r)/), Repair (/rɪˈpeə(r)/), Compare (/kəmˈpeə(r)/), Farewell (/ˌfeəˈwel/).

Demonstration of diphthong /eə/

Diphthong: /aʊ/

The phonetic diphthong /aʊ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a combination of two vowel sounds that blend together in a single syllable.

The first part of the diphthong is pronounced as an open-back unrounded vowel “a” (/a/), which is pronounced with the tongue positioned low and towards the back of the mouth. The second part of the diphthong is pronounced as a near-close near-back rounded vowel “ʊ” (/ʊ/), which is pronounced with the lips rounded and the tongue positioned towards the back of the mouth.

When pronounced together, the two vowel sounds blend into a diphthong with a smooth transition from the open “a” to the rounded “ʊ”.

The resulting sound is commonly heard in words such as Cow (/kaʊ/), House  (haʊs), Mouse (/maʊs), Mouth (maʊθ), Loud (/laʊd/), Cloud (/klaʊd/), Round (raʊnd/), Found (/faʊnd/), About (/ə’baʊt/), Doubt (/daʊt/), Stout (/staʊt/), South (/saʊθ/), Scout (/skaʊt/), Pout (/paʊt/), Sprout (/spraʊt/) and Trout (/traʊt/) etc.

In RP, the phonetic diphthong /aʊ/ is considered a long vowel sound, meaning that it is held for a longer duration than a short vowel sound.

The exact duration of the diphthong can vary depending on factors such as stress and intonation, but it typically lasts for around 250-300 milliseconds.

Demonstration of diphthong /aʊ/

Diphthong: /eɪ/

The phonetic diphthong /eɪ/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) is a combination of two vowel sounds that are pronounced as a single sound.

It is pronounced by starting with the vowel sound /e/ as in the word “bet” and ending with the vowel sound /ɪ/ as in the word “bit”. To produce the /eɪ/ sound, you start by opening your mouth wide with your tongue in the middle of your mouth and the back of your tongue relaxed. Then, you move your tongue towards the roof of your mouth while pronouncing the “e” sound. As you move your tongue upwards, you simultaneously round your lips and lower your jaw slightly to produce the “ɪ” sound.

The /eɪ/ sound can be heard in words such as Play (/pleɪ/), Day (/deɪ/), May (/meɪ/), Say (/seɪ/), Ray (/reɪ/), Bay (/beɪ/), Lay (/leɪ/), Pay (/peɪ/), Way (/weɪ/), Grey (/ɡreɪ/), They (/ðeɪ/), Survey (/sɜːveɪ/), Convey (/kənˈveɪ/).

It is important to note that the exact pronunciation of the /eɪ/ sound may vary slightly depending on the individual speaker’s accent and regional dialect.

Demonstration of diphthong /eɪ/

Pronunciations of voiced consonants

Voiced consonant: /b/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic consonant /b/ is a voiced bilabial plosive.

This means that the sound is produced by bringing the two lips together (bilabial) and then quickly releasing the airflow by opening the lips (plosive), while at the same time vibrating the vocal cords to produce a voiced sound. To produce the sound correctly, the lips should be pressed together gently, but not too tightly, and the vocal cords should be engaged to create a clear, full sound. The “b” sound in RP is usually pronounced with a slight puff of air that accompanies the sound, especially at the beginning of a word. Some examples of words that begin with the /b/ sound in RP include “book”, “ball”, “banana”, and “bird”.

It’s worth noting that in some dialects or accents, the “b” sound may be pronounced differently, but in RP it is typically a voiced bilabial plosive as described above.

Demonstration of voiced consonant /b/

Voiced consonant: /d/

In RP (Received Pronunciation), the phonetic consonant /d/ is a voiced alveolar plosive.

To produce this sound, the tip of the tongue is placed on the alveolar ridge (the bony ridge behind the upper front teeth), and air is briefly stopped by pressing the tongue against the ridge. The vocal cords vibrate to produce a voiced sound as the air is released.

In English, the /d/ sound is commonly found at the beginning or in the middle of words, such as “dog” or “made”. It can also be found at the end of words, such as “said”.

It is important to note that the pronunciation of /d/ can vary depending on the speaker’s accent or dialect and that RP is just one of many accents in the English language.

Demonstration of voiced consonant /d/

Voiced consonant: /dʒ/

The phonetic consonant /dʒ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a voiced palato-alveolar affricate.

To produce this sound, the tip of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate, creating a narrow constriction that obstructs the flow of air. The back of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate, creating a larger resonance chamber that amplifies the sound. The vocal cords are vibrating during the production of this sound, which means that it is voiced. The air pressure behind the constriction is then released, producing a burst of air that results in a brief, explosive sound.

The /dʒ/ sound is represented by the letters “j” and “g” in words such as judge (/dʒʌdʒ/), gym (/dʒɪm/), magic (/ˈmædʒɪk/), edge (/edʒ/), soldier (/ˈsəʊldʒə(r)/), budget (/ˈbʌdʒɪt/), genius (/ˈdʒiːniəs), suggest (/səˈdʒest/), dodge (/dɒdʒ/), bridge (/brɪdʒ/), grudge (/ɡrʌdʒ/), fridge (/frɪdʒ/), dosage (ˈdəʊsɪdʒ/), legend /ˈledʒənd/(), badge (/bædʒ/), pledge (/pledʒ/), knowledge (/ˈnɒlɪdʒ/), lodge (/lɒdʒ/), judgment (/ˈdʒʌdʒmənt/) respectively.

In RP, this sound is not aspirated, which means that there is no strong puff of air when it is pronounced.

Demonstration of voiced consonant /dʒ/

Voiced consonant: /ɡ/

The phonetic consonant /ɡ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a voiced velar stop.

This means that it is produced by completely stopping the airflow in the vocal tract at the level of the velum (soft palate) by bringing the back of the tongue into contact with the velum, and then releasing the airflow. The voicing feature means that the vocal cords vibrate during the production of the sound. In RP, the /ɡ/ sound is typically pronounced with the back of the tongue raised towards the velum, and the lips and jaw relaxed. It is important to note that the /ɡ/” sound in RP is different from the /ɡ/ sound in other accents, such as General American, where it can be pronounced as an unaspirated voiced velar stop or even a voiced velar fricative.

Some examples of words in RP that contain the “ɡ” sound include “go”, “bag”, “big”, and “egg”.

Demonstration of voiced consonant /g/

Voiced consonant: /v/

The phonetic consonant /v/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a labiodental fricative, meaning it is produced by placing the bottom lip against the top teeth and producing a continuous flow of air through a narrow opening, causing friction.

To produce the sound correctly, the speaker should press their bottom lip gently against their upper teeth while simultaneously blowing air through the mouth. The vocal cords should also vibrate, producing a voiced sound. The sound /v/ in RP is similar to the sound produced when saying the word “very” or “vine,” with the lips and teeth lightly touching, and a continuous airflow through the mouth.

In RP, /v/ is distinct from the voiced bilabial fricative /b/, which is produced by closing the lips completely and then allowing a burst of air to escape through them, without any vibration of the vocal cords.

Demonstration of voiced consonant /v/

Voiced consonant: /ð/

The phonetic consonant /ð/ in RP (Received Pronunciation) is known as the voiced dental fricative.

It is pronounced by placing the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth and blowing air through the small gap between the tongue and the teeth. To produce this sound, the vocal cords vibrate, creating a voiced sound. The “ð” sound is often spelt with the letter “th” in English words such as the (/ðə/), this (/ðɪs/), that (ðæt), they (/ðeɪ/), those (ðəʊz), father (/ˈfɑːðə(r)/), mother (/ˈmʌðə(r)/), brother (/ˈbrʌðə(r)/), other (/ˈʌðə(r)/), smooth (/smuːð/), clothe (/kləʊð/), breathe (/briːð/), bathe (/beɪð/), loathe (/ləʊð/), soothe (/suːð/)”

It is important to note that not all English speakers use this sound in their speech, and it may be replaced by a different sound, such as /v/ or /z/ in certain dialects or accents.

Demonstration of voiced consonant /ð/

Voiced consonant: /z/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic consonant /z/ is pronounced as a voiced alveolar fricative.

To produce this sound, the tip of the tongue is placed behind the upper teeth, and the air is forced through a narrow gap between the tongue and the alveolar ridge (the bumpy ridge behind the teeth). The vocal cords vibrate, creating a buzzing sound. The “z” sound is similar to the /s/ sound in RP, except that the /z/ is voiced (meaning the vocal cords vibrate) while the “s” is unvoiced (meaning the vocal cords do not vibrate).

Some examples of words that contain the /z/ sound in RP include “zebra,” “amaze,” and “buzz.”

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /z/

Voiced consonant: /ʒ/

The phonetic consonant /ʒ/ is known as the voiced palatal-alveolar fricative in RP (Received Pronunciation), which is a variety of Standard British English.

To produce this sound, the speaker needs to place the blade of their tongue behind the alveolar ridge (just behind the upper teeth) and the body of the tongue raised towards the hard palate, creating a constriction. Then, air is pushed out between the constriction, causing a vibration of the vocal cords and producing a buzzing or hissing sound.

The /ʒ/ sound can be found in English words such as “measure,” “vision,” and “pleasure.” It is also used in French words such as “june” and “genre.”

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /ʒ/

Pronunciations of voiceless consonants

Voiceless consonant:/p/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic consonant /p/ is a voiceless bilabial plosive.

This means that it is produced by closing the lips together and then releasing the air suddenly with a burst of sound. To produce the /p/ sound in RP, you begin by closing your lips together and building up pressure behind them by stopping the flow of air from your lungs. Then, you release the air suddenly by opening your lips, which creates a brief burst of sound. The /p/ sound is voiceless, which means that it is produced without any vibration of the vocal cords.

It is also a bilabial sound, which means that it is produced by bringing both lips together.

In RP, the /p/ sound can be found at the beginning of words like “pen” and “pot”, as well as in the middle of words like “happy” and “happen”.

It is an important sound in the English language, and mastering it is essential for clear communication.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /p/

Voiceless consonant: /t/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic consonant /t/ is a voiceless alveolar plosive.

This means that it is produced by blocking the airflow in the mouth with the tongue touching the alveolar ridge (the bumpy area just behind the upper teeth), and then releasing the air with a sharp burst of sound. To produce this sound, the tip of the tongue is placed lightly behind the upper teeth, and the air is stopped by bringing the tongue up to the alveolar ridge. The tongue is then quickly pulled away from the alveolar ridge to release the air, creating a short and sharp sound. The /t/ sound in RP is not aspirated, which means there is no puff of air released after the sound.

It is also voiceless, which means that the vocal cords do not vibrate during the production of this sound.

Some common words in RP that contain the /t/ sound include “tea,” “table,” and “cat.”

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /t/

Voiceless consonant: /tʃ/

The phonetic consonant /tʃ/ is called the voiceless postalveolar affricate in Received Pronunciation (RP), which is the standard accent of English spoken in England.

To produce this sound, the tongue is placed behind the alveolar ridge (the bony ridge behind the upper front teeth) and the lips are slightly rounded. The sound is created by releasing a burst of air after a brief stoppage, which produces a sound that is a combination of the /t/ and /ʃ/ sounds.

In RP, this sound is often represented by the letter combination “ch” in words like cheese (/tʃiːz/), church (/tʃɜːtʃ/), chip (/tʃɪp/), check (/tʃek/), choice (/tʃɔɪs/), chance (/tʃɑːns/), change (/tʃeɪndʒ/), watch (/wɒtʃ/), witch (/wɪtʃ/), match (/mætʃ/), batch (/bætʃ/), chat (/tʃæt/), cheap (/tʃiːp/), chest (/tʃest/), catch (/kætʃ/) etc.

It can also be represented by the letter /t/ in words borrowed from other languages, such as “taco” or “chutzpah.”

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /tʃ/

Voiceless consonant: /k/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic consonant /k/ is classified as a voiceless velar plosive.

This means that it is produced by blocking the airflow in the vocal tract at the level of the velum (soft palate) and then releasing it abruptly. To produce the /k/ sound, the back of the tongue is raised to the velum, closing off the airflow through the oral cavity. The air pressure builds up behind the closure, and when the tongue is suddenly lowered, the airflow is released explosively, creating a brief burst of sound. The vocal cords do not vibrate during the production of this sound, which is why it is classified as voiceless.

In RP, the /k/ sound can be found at the beginning of words like “kit,” “keep,” and “kite,” as well as in the middle and at the end of words, as in “back,” “sick,” and “book.”

The sound is produced with a strong puff of air, which can be felt if you place your hand in front of your mouth while saying words containing the /k/ sound.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /k/

Voiceless consonant: /f/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic consonant /f/ is a voiceless labiodental fricative.

This means that it is produced by bringing the bottom lip into contact with the upper teeth and forcing air through the small gap between them. To produce this sound, you should position your bottom lip slightly touching the upper teeth and tightly constrict the passage for the air to escape through your mouth. As you force the air out through your mouth, the friction between your teeth and your lips produces a continuous buzzing sound. The /f/ sound is often represented by the letter /f/ in English words, such as “fine,” “feel,” and “fist.”

It is important to note that the “f” sound is voiceless, meaning that the vocal cords do not vibrate when producing this sound.

It is also worth noting that the /f/ sound is similar to the /v/ sound, which is a voiced labiodental fricative.

The main difference is that when producing the “v” sound, the vocal cords vibrate, creating a buzzing sound, while for the “f” sound, the vocal cords are relaxed and do not vibrate.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /f/

Voiceless consonant: /θ/

The phonetic consonant /θ/ is known as the voiceless dental fricative in Received Pronunciation (RP), which is the standard accent of British English.

To produce this sound, you need to place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth and blow air out between your tongue and your teeth. This creates a soft, hissing sound. In RP, this sound is represented by the letter “th,” as in words like “think (/θɪŋk/), thank (/θæŋk/), thought (/θɔːt/), theme (/θiːm/), thirteen (/ˌθɜːˈtiːn/), thumb (/θʌm/), thick (/θɪk/), theatre (/ˈθɪətə(r)/), thousand (/ˈθaʊznd/), author (/ˈɔːθə(r)/).”

It is important to note that this sound is different from the “th” sound in other English accents, such as American English, which is pronounced as a voiced dental fricative.

The /θ/ sound is relatively uncommon in the world’s languages and can be challenging for some non-native English speakers to master.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /θ/

Voiceless consonant: /ŋ/

The phonetic consonant /ŋ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a velar nasal sound.

It is produced by lowering the back of the tongue towards the soft palate or velum, while air is released through the nasal cavity. To produce this sound, the back of the tongue is pressed against the velum, which blocks the airflow through the mouth, and the air is instead released through the nasal cavity. This results in a nasal sound, similar to the /ng” sound in the English words “sing” or “ring.”

In RP, the /ŋ/ sound is typically represented by the letter “ng” at the end of words, such as in bang (/bæŋ/), wing (wɪŋ/), thing (/θɪŋ/), morning (/ˈmɔːnɪŋ/), evening (/ˈiːvnɪŋ/), tongue /tʌŋ/(), conquer (/ˈkɒŋkə(r)/), hungry (/ˈhʌŋɡri/), mango (/ˈmæŋɡəʊ/),  fang (/fæŋ/), gang (/ɡæŋ/), yang (/jæŋ/), singer (/ˈsɪŋə(r)/).

It’s worth noting that the /ŋ/ sound is not present in all languages, and its usage and pronunciation may vary across different dialects and accents of English.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /ŋ/

Voiceless consonant: /s/

The phonetic consonant /s/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is an unvoiced alveolar fricative sound.

This means that it is produced by forcing air through a narrow gap between the tip of the tongue and the alveolar ridge (the bumpy ridge just behind the upper front teeth), creating a continuous friction-like sound. To produce the sound, the tongue is placed close to, but not touching, the alveolar ridge. The air pressure builds up behind the tongue, and when the tongue moves slightly away from the ridge, the air is released through the narrow gap, creating the sound. The lips are generally kept apart and relaxed while producing this sound.

In RP, the /s/ sound is used in many common words, such as “sit,” “send,” and “sister.” It can also occur at the end of words, such as in “bus,” “class,” and “miss.”

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /s/

Voiceless consonant: /ʃ/

The phonetic consonant /ʃ/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a voiceless postalveolar fricative.

It is produced by placing the tongue near the roof of the mouth (the palate) and slightly behind the alveolar ridge, which is the area just behind the upper front teeth. To make the sound, air is pushed out between the tongue and the palate, creating friction and a hissing sound. The vocal cords do not vibrate during the production of this sound, making it a voiceless consonant.

The /ʃ/ sound is commonly found in words like a ship (/ʃɪp/), she (/ʃi/), shall (/ʃəl/), show (/ʃəʊ/), shell (/ʃel/), shoe (/ʃuː/), shop (/ʃɒp/), ash (/æʃ/), cash (/kæʃ/), bush (/bʊʃ/), dish (/dɪʃ/), fish (/fɪʃ/), flash (/flæʃ/), gosh (/ɡɒʃ/), hush (/hʌʃ/), lash (/læʃ/), mash (/mæʃ/), rash (/ræʃ/), sash (/sæʃ/), trash (/træʃ/).

It is one of the sounds that can be tricky for non-native speakers to produce accurately, as it is not present in all languages. However, with practice, most people can learn to produce it correctly.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /ʃ/

Voiceless consonant: /m/

he phonetic consonant /m/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a bilabial nasal consonant.

This means that the sound is produced by closing the lips together and allowing air to flow through the nose. To produce the /m/ sound in RP, the lips should be lightly pressed together, and the vocal cords should vibrate to create a humming sound. The sound is typically held for a short duration, and it can occur at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.

Examples of words that start with the /m/ sound in RP include “man,” “mother,” and “mood.” Words that feature the “m” sound in the middle of a word include “hammer,” “summer,” and “tomato.” And words that end with the “m” sound in RP include “chasm,” “column,” and “bottom.”

Overall, the /m/ sound in RP is a common consonant sound that is relatively easy to produce and distinguish from other sounds in the English language.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /m/

Voiceless consonant: /n/

The phonetic consonant /n/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a nasal consonant, which means that the sound is produced by allowing air to escape through the nose.

To articulate this sound, the tip of the tongue is placed behind the upper teeth, and the air is blocked in the mouth by the tongue. The soft palate is lowered, allowing air to flow through the nasal cavity. In RP, the /n/ sound is typically voiceless when it occurs at the end of a word or before a voiceless consonant, such as in the words “tin” or “snap.” In other contexts, such as before a voiced consonant or between vowels, the “n” sound is typically voiced, as in the words “pen” or “tennis.”

The /n/ sound is classified as an alveolar nasal consonant because it is produced by the tongue tip touching the alveolar ridge, which is the bony ridge behind the upper teeth.

In RP, the /n/ sound is generally a single, short burst of sound, and it can occur in various positions within a word, such as at the beginning, middle, or end.

Overall, the phonetic consonant /n/ in RP is a nasal, alveolar consonant that can be either voiced or voiceless depending on the context.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /n/

Voiceless consonant: /r/

The phonetic consonant /r/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is typically produced with the tip or blade of the tongue raised towards the hard palate or alveolar ridge, creating a constriction in the vocal tract known as an alveolar or post-alveolar approximant.

In RP, the /r/ sound is not usually pronounced as a trill or flap, as is common in some other languages or dialects. Rather, it is often a non-sibilant sound, meaning that it is not accompanied by a hissing or buzzing noise like the “s” or “sh” sounds. The exact quality of the RP /r/ can vary depending on the specific accent or speaker, but it is generally characterized by a somewhat retroflex or backwards-leaning articulation, where the tip or blade of the tongue is curled slightly backwards towards the hard palate.

Overall, the RP /r/ is a relatively subtle and nuanced sound that can be difficult for non-native speakers to master.

However it is an important feature of many varieties of British English and is widely recognized as a key marker of accent and dialect.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /r/

Voiceless consonant: /h/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), /h/ is a voiceless glottal fricative consonant.

This means that it is produced by restricting the airflow through the vocal cords and creating friction in the area of the glottis (the opening between the vocal cords). To produce the /h/ sound, the speaker exhales a puff of air while bringing the vocal cords close together, causing the air to flow through a narrow space and creating a fricative sound. The lips and tongue remain relatively relaxed and uninvolved in sound production.

In RP, /h/ is used at the beginning of words to indicate the absence of vocal cord vibration, as in “hat”, “house”, and “hurry”.

It is also used in some words where it is silent, such as “hour” and “honest”, which are pronounced as “ow-er” and “on-est” respectively.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /h/

Voiceless consonant: /l/

The phonetic consonant /l/ in Received Pronunciation (RP) is a lateral consonant, which means that the sound is produced by allowing air to flow over the sides of the tongue, while the centre of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate.

In RP, the /l/ sound can be pronounced in two different ways: the “light” and “dark” /l/ The “light” /l/ is produced by placing the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge (the bumpy ridge behind the upper front teeth) and allowing air to flow over the sides of the tongue. This is the most common way of pronouncing /l/ in RP.

The “dark” /l/ on the other hand, is pronounced by retracting the tongue slightly and allowing air to flow over the back of the tongue. This is typically used in RP when the /l/ sound comes at the end of a word, such as in the word “all”.

Overall, the /l/ sound in RP is considered a voiced, alveolar lateral approximant, which means that it is produced with the vocal cords vibrating, and the sound is made by allowing air to flow over the sides of the tongue as it approaches the alveolar ridge.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /l/

Voiceless consonant: /j/

The phonetic symbol /j/ represents the sound that is commonly known as the “y” sound in English.

In Received Pronunciation (RP), which is a British English accent, this sound is often pronounced at the beginning of words such as “yes” or “yellow.” The /j/ sound is a voiced palatal approximant, which means that the tongue is positioned near the hard palate, but not close enough to produce friction. To produce this sound, the tongue is raised towards the hard palate, while the vocal cords vibrate to produce a voiced sound.

In phonetic transcription, the symbol /j/ is represented by a small, lowercase “j” with no dot underneath it.

Example words with the /j/ sound in RP include yellow /ˈjɛləʊ/, year /jɪə/, yet /jɛt/, yoghurt/ˈjəʊɡət/, youth /juːθ/, yield /jiːld/, yawn /jɔːn/, yacht /jɒt/, yodel /ˈjəʊd(ə)l/, yolk /jəʊk/.

It is often placed in front of vowels to indicate the presence of this sound, as in the word “yield,” where the /j/ sound precedes the vowel /i//.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /j/

Voiceless consonant: /w/

In Received Pronunciation (RP), the phonetic consonant /w/ is a voiced labio-velar approximant.

This means that it is produced by rounding the lips and narrowing the space between the lips and the back of the tongue. To produce the sound, the lips are pursed and the vocal cords are vibrated. The back of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate, creating a constriction in the vocal tract. Air is then forced through this constriction, causing the lips to vibrate and produce the characteristic sound of /w/

In RP, the /w/ sound is often found at the beginning of words, such as whale (/weɪl/), wet (/wet/), wind (/wɪnd/), wagon (/ˈwæɡən/), wish (/wɪʃ/), winter (/ˈwɪntə(r)/), winner (/ˈwɪnə(r)/), wealth (/welθ/), wake (/weɪk/), watch (/wɒtʃ/), as well as in the middle of words, such as “swing” (/swɪŋ/) or “twice” (/twaɪs/).

It is also commonly used as a consonant cluster, as in words like “queen”(/kwiːn/) or “sweat” (/swet/), etc.

Demonstration of voiceless consonant /w/

Now try to do it yourself-

/ɪt ɪz hɑːd tuː nəʊ æt ðɪs steɪdʒ. bʌt ˈskɒtlənd ɪz nɒt əˈləʊn ɪn sʌʧ ˈprɒbləmz. ɪn 21st-ˈsɛnʧəri dɪˈmɒkrəsiz, ˈpɒlɪtɪks ænd ðə lɔː hæv bɪˈkʌm ˈdeɪndʒərəsli ɪnˈtæŋgld. ɪt ɪz ə streɪndʒ ˈpʌblɪk ˈkʌltʃər ɪn wɪʧ ˈbiːɪŋ daɪˈrɛktər ɒv ˈpʌblɪk ˌprɒsɪˈkjuːʃənz, æz sɜːr kɪə ˈstɑːmə wəz, ɪz naʊ siːn æz ə greɪt ˌkwɒlɪfɪˈkeɪʃən fər ə pəˈlɪtɪkəl kəˈrɪər./

Text

It is hard to know at this stage. But Scotland is not alone in such problems. In 21st-century democracies, politics and the law have become dangerously entangled. It is a strange public culture in which being Director of Public Prosecutions, as Sir Keir Starmer was, is now seen as a great qualification for a political career. (Ask me for more transcripts if you need them.)

Conclusion

In conclusion, improving your English pronunciation may take some time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it.

By practising essential techniques and exercises like focusing on individual sounds, intonation, stress, and rhythm, you can gradually develop a clearer and more confident speaking style. Remember to be patient with yourself and stay motivated, as consistency is key to achieving success. With dedication and practice, you can greatly enhance your communication skills and become more proficient in English.

So, don’t be afraid to put these tips into action and start speaking with greater clarity and fluency today!


References

1. Phonetics: A coursebook by RACHAEL-ANNE KNIGHT

2. Textbooks in English Language and Linguistics (TELL): Edited by Magnus Huber and Joybrato Mukherjee

3. The Pronunciation of English by Charles W. Kreidler

4. The Sounds of Language: An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology

5. Understanding and Teaching the Pronunciation of English by Marla Tritch Yoshida

6. English Phonetics and Phonology: An Introduction by Wiley Blackwell

7. In Introductory Text Book of Linguistics and Phonetics by Dr R.L Varshney

8. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

9. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English

10. Bangla Academy English to Bengali Dictionary

Romzanul Islam

A proud Bangladeshi, and an unconventional thinking human with reasons who nurtures passions for reading, writing, researching and collecting the best books and watching the best films. Stoicism, liberalism, feminism and aversion to material success are my ideals.