Learning English Pronunciation 

I Would Like to Buy a Hamburger – Steve Martin

American English Pronunciation: It’s No Good Unless You’re Understood.

Cold Wind Press. p. 10. ISBN 1-58631-050-X. ) Other activities by specialists to help the student include games, activities, and printable workbooks to help students practice what they learn. 


I’m Gonna Kick His Ask

True or False:   The pronunciation of English varies widely in each English-speaking country.

Alphabet Pronunciation

  Accent Reduction – Alphabet Pronunciation  

Lesson 1a – TH – English Pronunciation  


  Professional English Pronunciation Lessons

True or  False – My English is better understood by native speakers when I pronounce final sounds such as “s” and “ed”.


Phonetic Sounds of

English, Spanish, and German 

Phonetic Sounds of English, Spanish, and German 


The red areas are those where non-rhotic pronunciations are found among some white people in the United StatesAAVE-influenced non-rhotic pronunciations may be found among black people throughout the country.


The area of the United States where the local accent is most similar to General American


Regional Differences

While written AmE is standardized across the country, there are several recognizable variations in the spoken language, both in pronunciation and in vernacular vocabulary.

General American is the name given to any American accent that is relatively free of noticeable regional influences. 

After the Civil War, the settlement of the western territories by migrants from the Eastern U.S. led to dialect mixing and leveling, so that regional dialects are most strongly differentiated along the Eastern seaboard. The Connecticut River and Long Island Sound is usually regarded as the southern/western extent of New England speech, which has its roots in the speech of the Puritans from East Anglia who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Potomac River generally divides a group of Northern coastal dialects from the beginning of the Coastal Southern dialect area; in between these two rivers several local variations exist, chief among them the one that prevails in and around New York City and northern New Jersey, which developed on a Dutch substratum after the English conquered New Amsterdam. The main features of Coastal Southern speech can be traced to the speech of the English from the West Country who settled in Virginia after leaving England at the time of the English Civil War.

Although no longer region-specific, African American Vernacular English, which remains prevalent among African Americans, has a close relationship to Southern varieties of AmE and has greatly influenced the everyday speech of many Americans.

A distinctive speech pattern also appears near the border between Canada and the United States, centered on the Great Lakes region (but only on the American side). This is the Inland North Dialect—the “standard Midwestern” speech that was the basis for General American in the mid-20th century (although it has been recently modified by the northern cities vowel shift). Those not from this area frequently confuse it with the North Midland dialect treated below, referring to both collectively as “Midwestern” in the mid-Atlantic region or “Northern” in the Southern US. The so-called ‘”Minnesotan” dialect is also prevalent in the cultural Upper Midwest, and is characterized by influences from the German and Scandinavian settlers of the region (yah for yes/ja in German, pronounced the same way).

In the interior, the situation is very different. West of the Appalachian Mountains begins the broad zone of what is generally called “Midland” speech. This is divided into two discrete subdivisions, the North Midland that begins north of the Ohio River valley area, and the South Midland speech; sometimes the former is designated simply “Midland” and the latter is reckoned as “Highland Southern”. The North Midland speech continues to expand westward until it becomes the closely related Western dialect which contains Pacific Northwest English as well as the well-known California English, although in the immediate San Francisco area some older speakers do not possess the cot–caught merger and thus retain the distinction between words such as cot and caught which reflects a historical Mid-Atlantic heritage.

The South Midland or Highland Southern dialect follows the Ohio River in a generally southwesterly direction, moves across Arkansas and Oklahoma west of the Mississippi, and peters out in West Texas. It is a version of the Midland speech that has assimilated some coastal Southern forms (outsiders often mistakenly believe South Midland speech and coastal South speech to be the same).

The island state of Hawaii has a distinctive Hawaiian Pidgin.

Finally, dialect development in the United States has been notably influenced by the distinctive speech of such important cultural centers as Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, which imposed their marks on the surrounding areas.

See also


Beyond ESL – Pronunciation Videos 

Have you ever wondered why native Americans sound like they don’t speak clearly?  Well, maybe it’s because they’re using 16 English vowel sounds…

Do you speak American? 

Vowel Shifting

The Sounds, They Are A Shiftin’
Certain vowel sounds are on the move. Matthew Gordon looks at where the sounds of American speech are headed and explains how linguists can put that knowledge to use.  Read Full Essay.

Consider these linguistic puzzles:

  • The Smiths, natives of Philadelphia, have settled in California and are raising twins Dawn and Don. When Mom or Dad calls either child by name, both kids answer. Even though the parents are pronouncing “Dawn” and “Don” distinctly, the children can’t seem to hear any difference. Why not?
  • Ian of Omaha is visiting friends in Michigan, who take him to a neighborhood party. He enjoys the festivities, but something is perplexing. When he introduces himself by saying, “Hi, I’m Ian” (which he pronounces “ee-yun”), many Michiganders look confused. Some ask him why his parents gave him a woman’s name.

The situations suggested by these examples illustrate some of the many changes shaping American English. Often these linguistic developments are quite dramatic and can lead to misunderstandings like those cited above.

The Smiths’ experience highlights a dialect difference between the western states and much of the East. In the parents’ Philadelphia dialect, the names Don and Dawn are pronounced with different vowel sounds. (When saying Dawn the lips are slightly rounded; when saying Don, they are more open.) In California, where the kids learned to speak, Don and Dawn are pronounced the same, as are similar pairs such as caught ~ cot and Pauley ~ Polly. The twins’ speech illustrates a process called “merger,” in which two sounds become one. That merger of Don-and-Dawn’s “o” and “aw” sounds has become widespread throughout the West. The Smiths’ case shows that people with the merger not only don’t distinguish between the vowels in their own pronunciation but also don’t hear the difference in the speech of others.

Ian’s story illustrates another vowel shift in American English. In the Great Lakes region including Michigan, the short a sound of bat and had is often pronounced like the ea of idea; thus, bat sounds like “beeyut” and had like “heeyud.”

When Ian introduced himself, Michiganders thought he said Ann, which they pronounce “ee-yun.” This change is part of a phenomenon known as the Northern Cities Vowel Shift. This pattern also affects the vowels of box, bought, but, bet and bit. The pattern is especially common in urban areas such as Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo; hence the Northern Cities label.

These changes are among several that are spreading across vast parts of the United States. Linguists who study such changes try to identify the factors that drive them. Understanding the process of change can shed new light on the history of American English — and can help predict future developments. This area of linguistic research also has practical applications, such as in the area of computer voice recognition.

Linguists who study vowel shifts increasingly focus on how social factors influence the linguistic landscape. For example, researchers note that the changes illustrated above are taking place without social awareness. Unlike “warsh” for wash etc., the pronunciations described here do not attract comment. They are even heard in the broadcast media. This lack of awareness is a key factor in their spread and suggests that such pronunciations will help to shape the future sound of American English. Learn More

Differences between General American and Received Pronunciation

One aspect of American and British English pronunciation differences is differences in accent.

The General American (GAm) and the Southern British Received Pronunciation (RP) accents have some significant points of difference, described in this article. However, other regional accents in each country may show greater still differences, for which see regional accents of English speakers

Battle of the Tongues – American English vs. British English

“American vs. British English” the tongue match


Differences between British English and American English

American English and British English (BrE) differ at the levels of phonology, phonetics, vocabulary, and, to a lesser extent, grammar and orthography. The first large American dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language, was written by Noah Webster in 1828; Webster intended to show that the United States, which was a relatively new country at the time, spoke a different dialect from that of Britain.

Differences in grammar are relatively minor, and normally do not affect mutual intelligibility; these include: different use of some verbal auxiliaries; formal (rather than notional) agreement with collective nouns; different preferences for the past forms of a few verbs (for example, AmE/BrE: learned/learnt, burned/burnt, and in sneak, dive, get); different prepositions and adverbs in certain contexts (for example, AmE in school, BrE at school); and whether or not a definite article is used, in very few cases (AmE to the hospital, BrE to hospital; contrast, however, AmE actress Elizabeth Taylor, BrE the actress Elizabeth Taylor). Often, these differences are a matter of relative preferences rather than absolute rules; and most are not stable, since the two varieties are constantly influencing each other.

Differences in orthography are also trivial. Some of the forms that now serve to distinguish American from British spelling (color for colour, center for centre, traveler for traveller, etc.) were introduced by Noah Webster himself; others are due to spelling tendencies in Britain from the 17th century until the present day (for example, -ise for -ize, although the Oxford English Dictionary still prefers the -ize ending) and cases favored by the francophile tastes of 19th century Victorian England, which had little effect on AmE (for example, programme for program, manoeuvre for maneuver, skilful for skillful, cheque for check, etc.).

AmE sometimes favors words that are morphologically more complex, whereas BrE uses clipped forms, such as AmE transportation and BrE transport or where the British form is a back-formation, such as AmE burglarize and BrE burgle (from burglar). It should however be noted that while individuals usually use one or the other, both forms will be widely understood and mostly used alongside each other within the two systems. 


Cursing: Obscenities, Expletives and ‘Forbidden’ Words

The Italian Man Who went to Malta

Why Study Cursing and Obscenities?

Obscene language is not standard. Some obscenities are similar across different varieties of World English, but they also vary by national or regional usage. What is considered obscene will also vary over time, and within social groups.

The term “obscenities” refers to ‘profane’ or ‘vulgar’ or ‘forbidden’ or ‘naughty’ language, or in general the practice of ‘cursing’ [cussing] or using ‘curse words’ [cusswords]. Related words include blasphemies, taboos, epithets, slurs, and references to excremental and toilet functions, e.g. “shit”.

List of dialects of the English language 

Dialects are linguistic varieties which differ in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar from each other and from Standard English (which is itself a dialect).

Dialects can be usefully defined as “sub-forms of languages which are, in general, mutually comprehensible”.

British linguists distinguish dialect from accent, which refers only to pronunciation. Thus, any educated English speaker can use the vocabulary and grammar of Standard English, but different speakers use their own local words for everyday objects or actions, regional accent, or Received Pronunciation, which within the U.K. is considered an accent distinguished by class rather than by region.

American linguists, however, include pronunciation differences as part of the definition of regional or social dialects. The combination of differences in pronunciation and use of local words may make some English dialects almost unintelligible from one region to another.

The major native dialects of English are often divided by linguists into the three general categories of the British Isles dialects, those of North America and those of Australia and Oceania

This is a list of dialects of the English language

Dialects and Accents of Modern English by Continent
Czech · Dutch  · Gibraltarian  · Guernsey · Jersey · Maltese · Manx · Swedish
North America
South America

Pronunciation by Continent


Great Britain (British English)

Northern Ireland


  • Hiberno-English
    • Dublin
    • Cork
    • Kerry and Cork County
    • Connacht
    • Sligo Town
    • Galway City
    • Rural Munster (Tipperary, Limerick County, Clare, Waterford)
    • Limerick City
    • North Leinster (Louth and Meath)
    • South Leinster (Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow)

Isle of Man

Channel Islands


North America


Central and South America





Manual encodings

These encoding systems should not be confused with sign languages such as British Sign Language and American Sign Language.


The following are portmanteaus devised to describe certain local creoles of English. Although similarly named, they are actually quite different in nature, with some being genuine mixed languages, some being instances of heavy code-switching between English and another language, some being genuine local dialects of English used by first-language English speakers, and some being non-native pronunciations of English. A few portmanteaus (such as Greeklish and Fingilish) are transliteration methods rather than any kind of spoken variant of English.

See also



Origins of English

Origins of English Pie Chart 2D (two dimensional)

Origins of English

One of the consequences of the French influence is that the vocabulary of English is, to a certain extent, divided between those words that are Germanic (mostly West Germanic, with a smaller influence from the North Germanic branch) and those that are “Latinate” (derived directly from Latin, or through Norman French or other Romance languages). The situation is further compounded, as French, particularly Old French and Anglo-French, were also contributors in English of significant numbers of Germanic words, mostly from the Frankish element in French (see List of English Latinates of Germanic origin).

The majority (estimates range from roughly 50% to more than 80%) of the thousand most common English words are Germanic. However, the majority of more advanced words in subjects such as the sciences, philosophy and mathematics come from Latin or Greek, with Arabic also providing many words in astronomy, mathematics, and chemistry. 


English Dialects

Native English Speakers | English Dialects

Pie chart showing the relative numbers of native English speakers in the major English-speaking countries of the world



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Speaking Skills
    May 31, 2012 @ 16:57:15

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