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Lecture 4: Common Little Words, Pronounced Carelessly? (I)
he more common an English word is, the less energy native speakers use saying it. Consonants disappear. Will becomes l and her becomes er. Vowels weaken, and can becomes /kn/. The preposition of is hidden between syllables, and cup of olives becomes
What are some of these words? To begin with, what is the most common word in the English language? That's right, the. Here are the top 10: the, of, and, to, a, in, that, it, is, and I. About 25% of all English words, both spoken and written, are these words. They are almost always unstressed, so the vowel is reduced to a schwa. But Korean students usually pronounce these words with stress and with the vowel pronounced as it is written.
The reduction of unstressed syllables allows them to be "squeezed" between the content words. The sentence Joe called home and Joe will have called her at home take about the same length of time to say.