176: Swearing!

If you're going to swear, you'd better be able to pronounce short vowel sounds!


This podcast contains references to vulgar language and is intended for mature audiences.

Hi everyone. I've decided to make our 176th episode quite informal. As you can see in the title, I'm going to talk about swearing. I've chosen to talk about swearing now because it relates to our recently released YouTube short vowels pronunciation video. You can see that video by going to www.pronuncian.com and clicking the "Videos" tab. You can also find it on the SeattleLearning YouTube channel, which I'll link to from this episode's transcript page. You can find the transcript by going to www.pronuncian.com/podcast.

For some reason, short vowel sounds and English swear words go together. If you're speaking with an American English accent, the most common curses are pronounced with short vowel sounds.

When non-native speakers try to swear, but just don't quite get it right, the problem is usually because of not pronouncing the vowel correctly. Now, before you get too excited about hearing Teacher Mandy swear in English, let me tell you that I'm not going to exactly swear today. I'm going to near-swear. I'm going to substitute one consonant sound so you can still hear the vowel.

I'm also going to give you a few collocations for each swear word. Collocations are other words that are used with a specific word. Collocations are ways to find common phrases. I'm using the dictionary built into my MacBook computer to find the phrases.

And here is today's near-swearing podcast!

A swear word with the short a sound is a-s-s, which I will substitute with the word "ask." Can you hear the short a sound (short a) in the word ask: (short a) ask? Some phrases with a-s-s include:

1) to bust one's ask, meaning to "try very hard to do something." A sentence with this phrase is, "I busted my ask help you move into a fifth floor apartment in a building with no elevator!"

2) to get off one's ask, meaning to stop being lazy. A sentence is, "Get off your ask and help me with this!"

3) to kick someone's ask, meaning to "beat, dominate, or defeat someone." An example sentence is, "You always kick my ask at poker. I'm not going to play it with you anymore."

4) to kiss someone's ask means to be overly obedient to someone and always do what they tell you to do. An example would be, "Stop kissing Kathy's ask, she not going to give you the promotion."

Let's move on to short e. Our short e curse word is h-e-l-l. H-e-l-l is not as vulgar as the other words I'll be using as examples today, but I'm still going to keep from needing to post an "explicit" warning on iTunes by substituting the word "bell."

Can you hear the short e sound (short e) in the word bell: (short e), bell?

There are three common phrases that use the word h-e-l-l. The first is to "give someone bell." To give someone bell means to make things very unpleasant for someone. An example sentence is, "Jake got bell for not coming home last night."

The next bell phrase is, "all bell broke loose." This means that the situation suddenly got very crazy and disorganized. An example that uses this phrase is, "All bell broke loose when his cigarette set the sprinklers off in the building."

And finally, you can "raise bell" if you're causing chaos. If you frequently do this, you'd be called a bell-raiser. An example of raising bell is, "The hackers raised bell by breaking into the computer servers and stealing passwords."

The short i sound has two common English swear words: b-i-t-c-h and s-h-i-t. I will use a p sound in place of the b sound for b-i-t-c-h, and I will say pitch instead. Then I will use an s sound in place of the sh sound in s-h-i-t and I will use the word sit instead.

The short i is a very big problem for many non-native speakers. I can't even say how many students have come up to me after a class and asked, very quietly: How do you say b-i-t-c-h and s-h-i-t. This is really interesting to me because what is happening is confusion with minimal pairs for these words: beach and sheet. Beach and sheet are both pronounced with a long e sound and most students do not have trouble pronouncing those words. However, since these same non-native English speakers often don't pronounce short i correctly, their listeners' ears are always ready to translate words into short i that really weren't intended as short i.

So, back to pretending I'm swearing when I'm actually not swearing. Here again is b-i-t-c-h pronounced with a p sound: pitch. And here is s-h-i-t pronounced with an s sound instead of an sh sound: sit. Can you hear the short i sound (short i), in pitch and sit: (short i), pitch, sit.

A common phrase that includes pitch is to "pitch about." To pitch about something is to complain or whine about something you don't like. A sentence with this phrase is, "If John doesn't stop pitching about his car, I'm going to stop carpooling with him."

Some phrases including the word s-h-i-t, said here as sit are: to "beat the sit out of," to be "in deep sit," and to "get one's sit together."

To beat the sit out of means to beat someone or something very badly. If you've seen the movie Office Space, you probably remember that the main characters hated their office printer. Finally, they took it out into a field an beat the sit out of it, completely destroying it.

To be in deep sit means to be in a lot of trouble. An example sentence is, "The thieves knew they were in deep sit when the police showed up."

And the we have, "to get one's sit together." This highly used phrase means to get organized. A sentence using this phrase is, "You'd better get your sit together before taking on an employee."

Now, our short o swear word: c-o-c-k. This word is a vulgar term for penis. Though this word is in my dictionary, it isn't listed with any very common phrases. So, I'm just going to give you the pronunciation and move on. The word c-o-c-k is pronounced with a short o sound (short o). I'm going to chance the beginning k sound to a p sound and use the word pock. Can you hear the short o (short o) in the word pock: (short o, pock).

Our final common swear word is the word f-u-c-k, also known as the f-word. F-u-c-k is pronounced with a short u sound. To refer to the word f-u-c-k, I'll substitute a d sound for the f sound: duck. Can you hear the short u sound (short u), in the word duck: (short u), duck.

There are three common phrases that use the word duck are: go duck yourself, to not give a duck about, and duck off.

To go duck yourself is used to express anger while also telling someone that you think they're worthless. An example of this phrase in a sentence is, "The brothers haven't spoken since they had a big fight ending in each one telling the other to go duck himself."

To not give a duck about something means to not care. An example sentence is, "Since Jill's boss unfairly yelled at her in front of her colleagues, she doesn't give a duck about her job.

And finally, to duck off. This is a way to sell someone to go away. An example sentence is, "Jill wants to just tell her boss to duck off, but she wants to have a new job lined up first."

Again, the biggest problem learners usually have with swearing is not pronouncing the vowel sound correctly. Since so many English swear words are pronounced with short vowels, you can watch our new short vowels video for free on Pronuncian.com or on YouTube. Pronuncian subscribers have access to all six of our brand new short vowels videos! To view them, log into your Pronuncian account and click the Videos tab. All the new videos will be right there for you. If you're not logged in, you'll just see the free videos we've posted to YouTube.

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