Why is accent and pronunciation important in English conversation?


Pronunciation and "accent" in transmitted English

When you actually use English, you will be interested in the " accent " of English.

Even in the center test, there is a problem of asking the correct accent position of English words, and it is difficult to understand the meaning of the word, so many people may not be good at it.

This esoteric "accent" is a characteristic of English that is said to be difficult for Japanese people to hear because it has a different concept from Japanese, and it is difficult to hear native English with a solid accent.

What is an accent in the first place?

Let's get a solid understanding of what an accent is in the first place!

Accents are sometimes called "stress" and are also called "stress" in Japanese.

① Word-level accents

Japanese is a language that speaks with a flat rhythm with less strength, but English has accents for every word.

According to "Digital Daijisen (Shogakukan)", accents are defined as follows.

"For each word, the relative pitch or strength arrangement of the sound, which is a social practice. Depending on the language system, the pitch of the sound (pitch accent) and the strength of the sound (strength accent) ). Japanese has a height accent, English has a strength accent. "

First, let's understand the definition of Japanese accent, "pitch accent".

For example, the Japanese word "hashi" cannot be judged as "bridge" or "chopsticks" when viewed on the hiragana characters.
Accents (= pitches of sounds) express the difference in spoken language.
In the case of "chopsticks", the sound of "ha" is high and the "shi" is lowered, but in the case of "bridge", the "shi" behind is a little higher.
The Japanese accent is to express the pitch of the sound in this way.

On the other hand, English accents are defined as "strength accents" and refer to "sound intensity".
Furthermore, in English, "accenting" refers to the strength of the pronunciation of "vowels" in words.
In English, the presence or absence of accents (stressed/unstressed) is determined for each syllable of a word, so it is necessary to remember each word individually.

You can look up the position of the accent in a dictionary or a word book.
If you look closely at the phonetic symbols, there is a small dot " ' " above the accented vowel.
This is the accent sign (some dictionaries have it before the syllable).

② Accent at the sentence level

Next is the accent that adds strength to the text.
Not all words are pronounced with the same strength when reading a sentence.
Let's look at an example.

I don't think so. (I don't think so.)

It's a simple sentence, but when you read this sentence normally, the strongest accent is "think".

It's a point to decide where the accent will be, but keep in mind that you basically put the strongest accent on the word at the end of the sentence.
However, if the word at the end of the sentence is "so" or a pronoun such as "him/her" comes, as in the example sentence, you cannot put an accent on it, so read it with an accent on the word before it.

It is sometimes explained that an accent is placed on a word (content word) that contains the essence of what you want to convey in that sentence, but since it is difficult to understand immediately in a sentence that you see at a glance, we have made a rule on the position of the accent. Explaining.

Relationship between pronunciation and accent

In addition to correct pronunciation, the elements to speak English that are conveyed need to have appropriate strength and weakness, but what is the relationship?
Of course, you can't speak the word you wanted to convey if the individual pronunciation was wrong, even if the accent was correct, like raise [réɪz] and rise [ráiz].

I explained that the place where the accent is placed in each word is always a vowel.

Japanese pronounces consonants and vowels at the same time, while English requires consonants and vowels to be pronounced respectively.

On top of that, when pronouncing a vowel, the throat (vocal cords) is closed and the vowel is uttered to add an accent. It also causes the pronunciation of.

Also, Japanese people who are not accustomed to the accent that means the strength of the sound will raise the pitch of the sound by that amount if they are conscious of adding the accent.
Therefore, the pitch of the accented word becomes extremely high, and it sounds unnatural in English.

Why is accent important in English conversation?

In English communication, speaking flatly without accents or making a mistake in the position of emphasis can not only make it difficult for native speakers to hear well, but also make it difficult to convey their intentions.

In addition to correct grammar and words, the key to speaking "conveyed" English is how to speak, that is, correct pronunciation and accent at the word level, and how to add accents in sentences.

In English, there is something that distinguishes the usage of part of speech by the position of the accent.

The point is that when pronounced as a noun, the accent is given to the front, and the verb is given to the back.

For example, the word "refund", which means "refund/refund", is accented when used in the noun "I'd like a refund.", So it becomes [ r í ː fʌ̀nd ] and "They refunded ." When used in a verb such as "me the ticket fee.", It becomes [ rif ʌ ́ nd] with an accent at the end.

In this way, some of the same words distinguish between nouns and verbs by the position of the accent, and the position of the accent is Japanese and English in English, which is Japanese like volunteer [vɑːlənˈtɪ r] (volunteer). Please note that some of them may be different.

No matter how long the sentence is, the position of the accent of each word does not change. If the accent is not added correctly, no matter how beautiful the pronunciation and grammar, the English will be incomprehensible.

As for how to add accents at the sentence level, the place to add strength to "I don't think so." In the example above changes depending on the situation.
In a situation where multiple people are discussing, as my opinion while everyone else agrees,

If you want to say "I don't think so", you should accent the speaker "I" with " I do n't think so."

You can also accent the negative word "don't" if you want to emphasize the negative "I don't think so = I don't agree".

In this way, English can add an accent to any word after all, but not only is it difficult to understand just by reading it flat, but if you add an accent to the wrong position, the nuance you want to convey changes. It is possible that it will end up.

Tips for grabbing English accents

The position to add an accent to each word is decided, the nuance changes depending on where to emphasize in the sentence, and there are many rules, so it is an accent that seems to be at a loss, but as a basic learning method, It is steadily to learn together with learning pronunciation.
If you come across a word you don't know, it's a good idea to look up the meaning in the dictionary, check the phonetic symbols, and remember the position of the accent.

When it is difficult to learn by just looking at letters such as dictionaries and reference books, it is also effective to experience and feel the senses by listening.
Once you know how to add an accent, you can output it by speaking so that you can get the correct accent at any time by learning it as your own feeling, without becoming a temporary knowledge at the time of the test.

In addition, listening to dialogues such as passages and participating in dialogues is also essential for learning accents in order to instill the accents in the text.
You will become accustomed to the accenting of English sentences in every situation and context in which they are actually used, which cannot be learned by listening to just one example sentence repeatedly.

Let's study with an awareness of accents as well as pronunciation!

From the standpoint of an English learner, when listening to native English, there are many parts that make me rush, "What? I can't hear the words here !?"
Even in such a case, the position of the accent of the word may be different from what you expected.
If you have mastered the knowledge of accents, you will be able to naturally recognize words that you could not clearly recognize.
And depending on which word in the sentence is accented, you will be able to understand what the essence of what the speaker wants to convey.

It is an accent of a concept that is a little difficult for Japanese people, but it is an indispensable learning point along with learning pronunciation in order to be able to speak transmitted English.

In addition to listening to words and understanding their meanings, check the correct accent positions and focus on the rhythm of native pronunciation.

In the Discovering Sounds curriculum, how to use the throat necessary for accenting is done in grade 7, how to add accents and intonations at the word level in grades 6 and 5, and how to pronounce consonants and vowels separately and without cutting. Is done in the 4th grade.
The rules for accents in sentences and the basic reading of sentences are level 2, and the practice of freely placing accents in sentences is performed in level A1 of the master course.

Even if you have never studied pronunciation, please be assured that you will practice step by step from the basics.

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In this article, "Why is accent important in English conversation as well as pronunciation?" I introduced about!