The -tion, -tial, -ure, and -al suffix and how they relate to the ch sound
Hi again, and welcome back to Seattle Learning Academy's American English pronunciation podcast. My name is Mandy, and this is our 117th episode.
If you've looked at any of the new spelling and pronunciation lessons that have been published to Pronuncian, hopefully you've noticed that we've also added a section for suffixes that contain a certain sound. We added this because suffixes often appear to be non-phonetic. However, by digging deep enough, patterns can be found.
Do you know what sound is usually pronounced at the beginning of the -tion and -tial suffixes? Examples of the more common pronunciation are in the words station and initial. It is the sh sound (sh sound), station, initial.
However, when the -tion suffix is preceded by an s sound and the -tial suffix is preceded by an n sound both of those suffixes are likely to be pronounced as the ch sound (ch sound).
Remember how similar the sh sound and the ch sound are. The sh sound is produced by placing the tip of the tongue close to the back of the tooth ridge (the tooth ridge is that bump behind your top front teeth). There is a sort of groove running down the center of your tongue that the air travels through, creating the sh sound (sh sound).
To create the ch sound, the tip of the tongue briefly touches the back of the tooth ridge, and then the tip is released into a shape much like the sh sound.
Listen to both sounds to compare them to one another. I'll say the sh sound first, then the ch sound.
sh sound, ch sound
Repeat these sounds after me:
sh sound, ch sound
Here are a few examples of the ch sound in the -tion suffix. Remember, these words have an s sound preceding the -tion, which causes the ch sound.
Next are examples of the -tial suffix pronounced with a ch sound because it is preceded by an n sound:
I hope you're following along with me, because I'm about to make it more complicated. There are also two suffixes that don't have the ch sound within them, but cause the letter t to be pronounced as a ch sound when it precedes them. This will be less confusing after I give a few examples.
First, the -ure suffix. When the letter t is immediately before the -ure suffix, the t is usually pronounced as a ch sound. Here are a few examples:
Next is the -al suffix: this is a bit more complicated than the -ure suffix even was. Listen carefully: when the letters t+u precede the -al suffix, the letter t is often pronounced as a ch sound. Here are a few examples:
Be careful with this pattern, and don't assume that it means that just the letter t can precede the -al suffix and be pronounce as the ch sound. It doesn't work that way. In words that end in t+al all the other t sound allophones, like the quick d sound, glottal stop, or omitted t sound still apply.
Now I hope you can see why we are including suffix patterns along with each sound's spelling and pronunciation page; they're complicated! But they can be explained, and they can be helpful to be aware of.
To help you set these patterns a little deeper into memory, I'm going to say all twelve examples I gave above. I'll leave time for you to repeat after me:
I'll link to the new ch sound lesson from this episode's transcripts page. You can find the transcripts for this, and all of our episodes, by visiting www.pronuncian.com/podcast. 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 comes to learn.
Thanks for listening.