206: I like/I'd like... bacon!

Rhythm and linking from /d/.


Hi again, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 206th episode.

Today I want to talk about the contraction I'd, (I-apostrophe-e) which can be used to contract either I would or I had. I notice that some contractions are embraced by non-native speakers much more than others. For instance, many of my students willingly use don't for do not, or won't for will not. However, as I've mentioned in previous podcasts, many non-native English speakers don't like the contraction can't. I'd is another contraction people shy away from. Just like can't, though, I'd is an important contraction.

One of the biggest benefits of using contractions is that they help the rhythm of your spoken English sound more fluent. Contractions often allow us to remove an entire syllable of function words. This is true in both the contractions, I would (two syllables) becoming I'd (one syllable) and I had (two syllables) becoming I'd (one syllable).

Let me be absolutely clear that the contractions for both of these words is I'd, pronounced exactly the same. We rely on context and the grammar of the rest of the sentence to tell which contraction we're using.

I'd can be especially tricky to pronounce because we have special linking rules when we link from the d sound into either an l sound or an n sound. Remember in the past when I talked about lateral aspirations and nasal aspirations?

I'm going to focus on I'd representing I would today, and I'm going to link it into the word like because it makes a nice example of of how tiny, and how grammatically important, that little d sound of the contraction is.

Listen to the two following sentences and see if you can hear the difference:

I like bacon.
I'd like bacon.

Could you hear it? The first sentence, I like bacon, states a preference, while the second sentence, I'd like bacon, is more of a request. That d sound is so hard to hear because it isn't fully released before the l sound of the word like. Instead, the two sounds blend a little bit. The blending of the d sound into the l sound is called a lateral aspiration. Let me explain.

Think of the position of the tongue for the stop portion of the d sound. The front of the tongue is blocking the air from leaving the mouth by pressing against the tooth ridge (that bony bump inside our mouth) just behind the top front teeth. When the tongue releases from this position, a small puff of air leaves the mouth.

Say the d sound after me and notice both the stop part of the sound and the release part of the sound: (d sound).

Now say the word I'd: I'd.

Now think about the pronunciation of the l sound. At the beginning of words, the l sound is created when just the very tip of the tongue presses into the tooth ridge and air is released out the mouth alongside the tip of the tongue.

Say the l sound after me: (l sound).

Now say the word like and pay special attention to the tip of your tongue: like.

If we put the words I'd like together, a special thing happens. The tongue touches the the tooth ridge for the d sound, but it doesn't release like a typical d sound. Instead, it releases like an l sound. This is a really subtle movement, but it's like magic for sounding fluent.

I'll demonstrate this both ways. First I'll say I like, with the words linked, then I'll say I'd like with the words linked. Listen carefully.

I like
I'd like

Can you hear the difference in sound?

Now I'll compare the less-fluently linked I'd like to the more fluently linked I'd like. Listen carefully.

I'd like (no lateral aspiration)
I'd like (linked fluently)

I'm going to repeat those:

I'd like (no lateral aspiration)
I'd like (linked fluently)

Now let me compare the contraction I'd like to the uncontracted form I would like. Listen carefully.

I'd like
I would like

Can you hear the difference in rhythm?

As I said before, these small changes are magic for sounding more fluent. You don't even need to learn any new vocabulary or grammar! All you need to do is to learn a tiny piece of muscle control for your tongue. I think it's pretty cool.

We're going to do some practice, but I also want to mention that the new Linking ebook also has a lesson and exercise specific to lateral aspiration, so you can get even more practice. The ebook also comes with audio for all 425 practice sentences--yes 425 sentences to practice linking. I really wanted to make sure you had enough practice to master these skills.

You can find more information on the products page of pronuncian.com.

Now, let's practice I'd like in some sentence and see how you do. I'll say the sentence, then leave time for you to repeat after me. Ready?

I'd like a puppy.
I'd like a new boat.
I'd like a new car.
I'd like a vacation.
I'd like some bacon.
I'd like you to practice this skill!

There you go.

You can find transcripts for this episode by going to www.pronuncian.com and clicking "transcripts," then finding episode 206. Also, we've changed our Facebook page to match our webpage. So you can now find us on Facebook by searching for Pronuncian. Our Twitter handle is also Pronuncian. It's spelled p-r-o-n-u-n-c-i-a-n in all of those places.

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

Thanks for listening. Bye-bye.