Pronunciation for Talking in English or Others

It is not very helpful to be told that pronunciation is the act of producing the sounds of a language. The aspects of this subject that concern most people are (1) standards of pronunciation and (2) the learning of pronunciation.

In the case of (1) standards of pronunciation, the principal factor is the choice of model accent: once this decision is made, any deviation from the model tends to attract criticism from people who are concerned with standards; the best-known example of this is the way people complain about “bad” pronunciation in an “official” speaker of the BBC, but similar complaints are made about the way children pronounce their native language in school or the way immigrant children fail to achieve native-speaker competence in the pronunciation of the “host” language.

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These are areas that are as much political as phonetic, and it is difficult to see how people will ever agree on them. In the area of (2) pronunciation teaching and learning, a great deal of research and development has been carried out since the early 20th century by phoneticians.

It should be remembered that useful though practical phonetics is in the teaching and learning of pronunciation, it is not essential, and many people learn to pronounce a language that they are learning simply through imitation and correction by a teacher or a native speaker.

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