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Lecture 5: Common Little Words, Pronounced Carelessly? (II)
he careful Korean mispronunciation of the short common words doesn't hinder their talking to native speakers. However, a problem arises when Koreans expect native speakers to pronounce the common little words the same way as Koreans. Unfortunately, that is what Korean students normally expect, so 25% of each sentence is very difficult to "hear." In addition to the ten most common words we have learned, there are other common words that native speakers usually reduce. They sound very different from the way they are spelled.
The common little words are arrows, road signs, and reminders of what and who we are talking about, and how they all relate. The word a normally tells us we are being introduced to a noun, and the tells us we were introduced to it before. The word of may point to a possessor, and is is an arrow that points in two directions to show a kind of equality. The word to is an arrow that points in the direction of action to a place or a person. The word it points back to some noun, and the words I, me, and my point to the speaker or writer. The word will points to the future.
The common little words allow English to make sense. In addition, many short content words communicate powerfully. In one of Lincoln's famous speeches, over 2/3 of the words are one syllable. Only 10% are over two syllables.