This is a pronunciation lesson, which is part of the global pronunciation course that we are starting. So today we’re beginning with the sound /ɒ/ as in ‘got’, but first, let’s start by defining what is phonetics and what do we mean by ‘The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)’.
Phonetics is the scientific study of the sounds of language. Phonetics includes how speech sounds are produced, the physical nature of the sounds themselves, and how speech is heard by listeners.
The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a comprehensive symbol set that lets you transcribe the sounds of any language in the world. Many IPA symbols come from Latin characters and resemble English (such as, /b/), so you’ll probably feel fairly comfortable with them. However, other symbols may seem foreign to you, such as /ʃ/, /ŋ/ or the sound which we are studying today is /ɒ/.
You can read more about phonetics in this lesson: How to pronounce any English word | Global Phonetics course with examples
The Dialogue – At the Post Office
Try to read this article two or three times and then move to the next section.
JHON: Excuse me.
JHON: I want to send this parcel, please.
RECEPTIONIST: Do you want to send it by letter post or parcel post?
JHON: You’d better send it by letter post. It is quicker I guess.
RECEPTIONIST: All right. Anything else I can do for you?
JHON: Yes. Could you weigh this letter, please?
RECEPTIONIST: It’s just over twenty-four grams. It’ll cost you one dollar. Here’re the stamps for the parcel and the letter. Will you affix them, please?
JHON: I also would like ten stamped envelopes.
RECEPTIONIST: By all means. But wait a minute, please. Let me first give you the receipt for the parcel. Here’s the receipt. And here’s the postal stationery.
JHON: Thank you very much. Can I leave the parcel there on the desk in front of you?
RECEPTIONIST: Yes. But put the letter in the box over there.
JHON: Oh, yes. Thank you very much.
Understanding the Dialogue
Read the following questions and try to answer them as briefly as you can. Read the dialogue again when you are not sure of the answer.
1. Where does the dialogue take place?
2. How many people are taking part in the dialogue? Who are they?
3. Do we know the name of the Receptionist? Is it a man or a woman? Do we know?
4. Jhon wants to do three things at the post office. What are they?
5. Are the two people in the dialogue polite to each other?
6. Does Jhon leave the post office happy or unhappy?
The meaning of difficult words
These are the meanings of some difficult words and expressions that you have faced in the dialogue:
affix: stick; paste
envelope: the paper cover of a letter
postal stationery: post-cards, letter sheets, envelopes, etc
Note: Look carefully at the spelling of the word stationery. Compare it with the word stationary, which sounds similar to the first word, but is different in meaning. (Stationary means ‘not moving’).
Analysis of the pronunciation
1. Read the dialogue again and listen to it. Note the way these words are said:
want, cost, box
Listen carefully to the vowel sound in the words.
The phonetic symbol generally used to indicate this sound is /ɒ/. You will notice that it is the same vowel sound as in these words:
2. Practise this sound with the help of the following words.
The syllable containing this sound is colored and italicized (if the word has more than one syllable).
and others like: knowledge, bottle, cotton, pot, bottom, collar, solid
3. Note carefully the pronunciations of the following words.
Each of these words has more than one syllable (or part). One of the syllables in each word is accented, that is, emphasized or made prominent. You must have noted that these words are said like this:
The vertical mark or stroke that precedes a syllable means that that syllable is accented.
You must have also noticed that the letter p in the word receipt is not pronounced: p is silent in the word.
Watch, Listen, and Learn
This is a video presented by Teacher Colin of the English Language Club youtube channel.
This video along with the others in our pronunciation series helps language learners to hear the correct pronunciation and also to know how to produce the sound of each phoneme.
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