Accent Training Terms & Vocabulary

Learn accent training terms and vocabulary from voice and speech coach Andrea Caban in this Howcast video.


So here are some terms that I'll be using in our accent training together. Let's first talk about articulators. So articulators are the bits and pieces of you that move to create words. So your lip corners are very important and they can move forward and back. So to move your lip corners back it would look like this, and forward would look like this. Make sense? Then you've got your tongue. You've got the tip of your tongue. So the tip of your tongue to your teeth, the tip of your tongue to your Alveolar Ridge, which is that gum ridge right behind your front teeth, and then you've got the back of your tongue, the root of your tongue. You bring that to your soft pallet or your Vellum, the part of you that moves when you yawn.

So let's talk about a few different types of consonants. So the first consonant type I want to talk about is a Plosive or a Stop Plosive. So a Stop Plosive happens when the air stops and then it explodes. So the Plosive puh, buh is a Bilabial Stop Plosive so your two lips are involved. Puh, buh is the P and B. Plosives also include, tuh, duh, and kuh, guh, so you feel that the air stops and it explodes. Those are all Stop Plosives. Another type of Stop Plosive is a Glottal Stop and that happens all the way in the back of the throat. Uh, uh, uh, and you hear that at the beginning of a lot of sounds in American English that start with a vowel. Like my name, Andrea. You hear that Glottal at the beginning? Andrea or Oh my God. You hear that Glottal at the beginning? Oh my God.

Another type of consonant is a Fricative. So a Fricative happens when two articulators like your lips or your teeth they make friction together. So fff, and vvv are fricatives. Sss, zzz are fricatives. Thh, vvv are Fricatives too.

Another type of consonant is a Nasal Consonant. A Nasal Consonant happens when your tongue or your lips close off the air flow coming out of your mouth so that the air flow comes out of your nose instead. So if you close your lips and you let the air flow come out of your nose you get Mmm. You get an M sound. If you take your tongue and put it to your Alveolar Ridge, the gum ridge right behind your front teeth you get an Nnn sound. Then if you take the back of your tongue and you bring it to your soft palate, the bit that raises when you yawn then you get a Mnn sound as in singing. Nah, nah, nah, those are the nasal sounds. Now I'd like to talk to about some vowels. There's Pure vowels, Diphthongs, and then in American English there are also Triphthongs. So Pure Vowel sounds are single vowels so E, Ei, A, Eh, Ah and then the American focal sound Uh. It's a Schwa, Uh. It happens right in the middle of the mouth and it's the American English focal sound. Those are all Pure Vowels. A Diphthong happens when two vowel sounds come together and the second element is shortened or we call it "breved." So A, Ow, O, Oi those are all Diphthongs. Also in American English we have a couple of Triphthongs. So we have three vowels that move together to make one sound. So Ire, is a Triphthong. As in fire, mire, inquire, and hour. Hour, as in hour, power, cower. So these are some of the more technical terms you will hear me refer to when we are working on our accents.

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