American English Accent Reduction Technique: Consonant Blend Pronunciation-Initial R

One accent modification technique that helps speakers of English as a second or other language is consonant blend pronunciation.  Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker & Lynda Katz-Wilner, authors of  Rules for Using Linguistic Elements of Speech: A Resource and Interactive Workbook, provide information for mastering pronunciation of R blends.  Consonant blends occur at the beginning, middle, and end of words.  It’s important to pronounce all the sounds.  Don’t insert a break between the sounds.  When you pronounce consonant blends, the letters are influenced by adjacent sounds, so that you will say it with a stronger or weaker voicing that if you pron0unce it alone.

R Pronunciation Tips

A commonly challenging English speech sound is the “r.”  Some non-native English speakers tend to “trill” the “r”. Others have difficulty pronouncing it because it doesn’t exist in their native languages. To pronounce the “r,” round the lips and place the sides of the tongue at the inside of the back molar teeth. Curl the tongue upwards without touching the roof of the mouth.

Initial R Consonant Blends

Initial R consonant blends include: BR, PR, DR, TR, CR, GR, FR, THR, SCR, SPR, SHR, and STR.  Examples of words with initial R consonant blends are: bright, press, drink, trace, crisp, green, friend, three, script, shread, and street.  Practice your pronunciation to become proficient in the American English accent.  Say the preceding words and remember to pronounce the blend accurately.  Look up the definitions for any words you don’t recognize.  Then make up different sentences than the ones below and read them aloud.

Initial R Sentence Practice

Make note of the words that contain R blends.  Some sentences have more than one word with an R blend.

  1. Let’s browse through the information to see if we can find some statistics that apply to our presentations.
  2. I printed 40 copies of the document once I perfected the drafts.
  3. She made a drastic change which caused some pressure.
  4. She prepared her presentation well in advance before she trained the members of her team.
  5. His constructive criticism was well-received by the employee because he focused on the positive contributions and qualities.
  6. She greatly appreciates her friendship.
  7. He scrambled three eggs for breakfast.
  8. He shredded the carrots for the carrot cake.
  9. As she heard the crowds in the street screaming encouragement, she sprinted toward the finish line.

In summary, “r” is commonly found in consonant blends.  These consonant blends occur in the beginning and middle of words.  Practicing pronunciation of this “r” speech sound adjacent to different consonants will help you speak the American English accent with increased accuracy.  It will help you increase the likelihood of being understood the first time you speak your message.

Source: Marjorie Feinstein-Whittaker & Lynda Katz-Wilner.  Rules for Using Linguistic Elements of Speech. Owings Mills: Successfully Speaking, 2006, 2007, 2nd Edition. Print.

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