174: 3-sound clusters beginning with 's'

/skr/ (scratch) /spl/ (splash) /spr/ (spree) and /str/ (streak)


Hi again, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 174th episode.

This episode is sponsored by Pauline Midwinter of Midwinter Tuition. You can download her Android app, listen to her Elocution Podcast, or contact her for online lessons at midwintertuition.co.uk.

Thanks, Pauline!

This is a really exciting episode to have a sponsor for because we have the exciting announcement of who won our contest to guess how many total podcast downloads we've had over the past 5 years. As of March 21, 2013 we have had 8,461,381 total downloads. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support over the past 5 years. We appreciate all the iTunes reviews, the emails, the questions, and all the ways you have interacted with us. It is because of your eagerness to learn that we keep publishing, year after year.

So the winner of the prize, an ebook version of Pronunciation Pages 2 as well as an hour-long consultation with me, is Michal Kubát. How did Michal win this prize? He added guesses to our Facebook page. I invite all of you to also participate with us through our Facebook page, which is facebook.com/Englishassembly.

Now, let's get on with our show.

Our 164th podcast, about consonant clusters, was really pretty popular. So I decided to do a follow up podcast today about 3-sound initial consonant clusters. The clusters s-p-l, s-k-r, s-p-r, and s-t-r, all begin with the s sound, then move into a stop sound, and then into either the l sound or the r sound. That's 3 consecutive consonant sounds! For languages without strings of three consonant sounds in a row, these can be pretty difficult sequences to pronounce.

You can read along with me as I talk today by going to www.pronuncian.com/podcast. Then click episode 174 to find the transcript for this episode. I'll also link to the free Pronuncian.com lesson that includes these consonant clusters as well as the other clusters that begin with the s sound.

Talking about how to create the s sound is a lesson in prepositions! We have: close to, of, behind, between, along, toward and through. It isn't an easy sound to create perfectly. But, we'll do the best we can, and that will be good enough!

To create the s sound, the front of the tongue is placed close to the tooth ridge. The tooth ridge is that bump right behind your top, front teeth. The tip of the tongue should also be close to the upper backside of the top front teeth. Keep the tongue tense as you push the air through a small groove along the center of the tip of the tongue. The front sides of the tongue are probably touching the side teeth toward the front of the mouth.

Repeat the s sound after me: (s sound)

The s sound is a continuous consonant, meaning that it can be held for a long time. (Held s sound.)

When the s sound is followed by a stop sound, in this case the k sound, p sound, or t sound, the friction of the s sound continues until the air is stopped for the k, p, or t sound. Then, immediately after the air is released for the stop, the l sound or r sound begins. So there is an overlap of sounds from the s sound into the stop and then from the stop into the l sound or r sound. This means that everything happens very quickly. Repeat the clusters after me:

s-p-l: /spl/, /spl/
s-k-r: /skr/, /skr/
s-p-r: /spr/, /spr/
s-t-r: /str/, /str/

Now let's practice a few words for each of these sequences. I'll leave time for you to repeat the words after me.



s-k-r (and notice that these words are all spelled with the letter 'c' being pronounced as a k sound):






Very good!

As I said, I'll link to the free pronuncian.com lessons from this episode's transcript page so you can practice as much as you like.

Did you notice Pauline Midwinter's little sponsorship at the beginning of this show? Did you know you can also sponsor a show? It's not very expensive, and you get some great exposure from our dedicated audience. To learn more, go to pronuncian.com/advertising. Pronuncian is spelled p-r-o-n-u-n-c-i-a-n.

That's all for today, everyone. This has been a Seattle Learning Academy digital publication. SLA is where the world come to learn.

Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.