A sample of my accent

Jaro   Wednesday, September 17, 2003, 17:07 GMT
I have recorded a sample of my accent. It should be downloadable as mp3 from the following link:
It was recorded using a cheap Genius PC microphone, so don't stone me for the quality :)

The text I was reading is located in http://www.ku.edu/~idea/index2.html

I've been learning English for 6 years (in fact it's 4 years at high school and 1 year at college, I didn't have English last year, so it's arguable if it's actually 5 or 6 years)
The reason why I'm posting it is, that I tried to improve my pronunciation three months ago. I have listened to BBC radio, and corrected my pronunciation of hundreds of words using Cambridge Advanced Learner's dictionary. My pronunciation was poor, not to mention correct syllable stressing as result of indifferent teachers at high school (mostly), and lack of PC dictionary with a pronunciation. Teachers haven't even explained the IPA (International phonetic alphabet) to us!
For instance, I couldn't pronounce TH sound (both voiced and voiceless), I was pronouncing it as F or D.
I visited some web pages concerning English Phonetics and learned few new consonats and vowels (like ae).

What do you think of my pronunciation? It was supposed to be more British-like. Is it understandable? Which words (or phonemes) are not pronounced correctly?
If you met me on the street, what would you think where am I from?
Jacob   Wednesday, September 17, 2003, 17:28 GMT
Hi -- first of all, your writing is excellent; it's better than a lot of native English speakers manage.

Your accent has room for improvement -- it's understandable, and there weren't any words I couldn't recognize, but it's not easy on the ears. There are some specifics I could pin down about individual sounds, but they don't bother me as much as these two things:

(1) The rhythm and flow is awkward. A few words will come out smoothly then a pause, then another burst, then a pause, and the pauses aren't where an English speaker would naturally find resting points.

(2) Your stress on individual words is good, but the overall pitch pattern of the sentences needs work -- you tend, I think, to keep the pitch very monotone throughout the sentence, overlooking the natural drops that occur for instance at the end of simple declarative sentences.

I wouldn't be able to guess what your native language is from your accent.
Tom   Wednesday, September 17, 2003, 19:21 GMT
You could well be Polish. Your accent certainly made me feel like I was in high school again, listening to people in English classes...

Single biggest problem: You pronounce [i] like [i(:)]. You made the mistake in every second word. It's horrible. "It" sounds more like "eat", "which" sounds like "weech", etc.

Problem #2: You pronounce [ei] like [ai]. "Rainbow" sounds like "rine-bow".

Problem #3: de-voicing of final consonants. [frents] instead of [fren(d)z], ['p@sitS] ("passich") instead of ['p@sidZ], etc. Also [..p 'se:(r)vd] instead of [..b 'ze:(r)vd].

Problem #4: you pronounce difficult to pronounce words like "throughout" and "actual" very quickly, skipping sounds. If you want to eliminate this, transcribe the entire passage phonetically before reading it. When practicing, be sure to go slowly, making sure you pronounce every sound.

If you eliminated the above problems, I think your pronunciation would be a LOT better. Your written English is pretty good.
Antonio   Wednesday, September 17, 2003, 19:28 GMT
I had problems trying to download the file, so I canĀ“t say anything now. I will try and download it later though.
Jacob   Wednesday, September 17, 2003, 19:32 GMT
I'll echo Tom's remark about your pronunciation of short [i] sound -- it was what I noticed first as well. I also noticed the devoicing of final consonants, but I'd call that a very minor issue.
wassabi   Saturday, September 20, 2003, 04:26 GMT
i haven't listened to it yet, ill try tho, where are you from?
Jaro   Monday, September 22, 2003, 13:35 GMT
2 Jacob:
Yeah, the rythm is awkward. I tend to use too much air for pronunciation of certain words. The result is I run out of air too early, and have to stop for a short while to breathe in. Hence the pauses. I learned some phonemes like "TH" (voiced and voiceless) just three months ago, and I'm still having problems with sequences of words containing lots of THs followed/preceeded by "s". I could read it faster by saying D instead of the voiced TH etc, but that was not my aim. I recorded several samples, but I didn't choose the best one, because it would just hide my weaknesses. The only remedy to this problem is lot of reading out loud.

2 TOM:
I'm originally from eastern Slovakia. Since it borders Poland, you weren't too far :).

[i] problem - I'm glad you have noticed that, because for whatever reason I thought that [i] is actually [I], but it's just short when compared with [i:]. Now I know what's the diffrence between them. I used to pronounce "it's" like /itS/ instead of /ItS/, because in Slovak language it would be pronounced /itS/. But I would pronounce "about it" as /e'baUt It/ (e is schwa). It's because we have 4 "I"s /I/, /i/, /i:/ and /I:/, and their usage differs from english. I'll try to take care and to not interchange /i/ with /I/.
Which/wItS/ vs weech/witS/ - I entered "which" into Cambridge advanced learner's dictionary and the woman is pronouncing it like weech(at least it sounds so to my ear). I would be interested to know how many people in Britain know the difference between /i/ and /I/. I'm really confused with this now.

Problem 2#: This could be a problem caused by my microphone. In one of my recordings, "found" sounded like /fUnd/ instead of /faUnd/. However "Rainbow" sounds like "rainbow" not "rine-bow" to me. I could make another recording as saying "rine-bow" for comparison, but I know you have other problems and interests than listening to someone's samples :)

Problem 3#: I have listened to the recording several times, and I see your point. In Slovak language, under certain circumstances /d/ can change to /t/, /z/ to /s/, /v/ to /f/, /b/ to /p/ and /tZ/ (like in "passage") to /tS/ (like in "chin"). I tend to apply some Slovak rules of pronuncuation to English which results in words like "[..p 'se:(r)vd] instead of [..b 'ze:(r)vd]" and others. It's good you pointed it out, since I haven't noticed it myself.

Problem 4#: The problem is, I don't know how to transcribe it into IPA. Are there any IPA fonts in Windows by default or do I have to install them? It's a little bit awkward to read something like /"s{nd.st@Un/ instead of "sandstone".

I'm sorry for my late response but I was abroad.