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This Is Impor'ant: It's Risky To
Drop Those Medial Consonants!
June 11, 2019

By Ann Utterback
Voice Specialist and Author, Broadcast Voice Handbook

I've written several articles on plosive consonants in ending positions and in clusters. But a colleague of mine recently asked about the dropping of medial consonants. 

She said she hated the recent trend to say, "impor'ant," instead of  "important." 

I agree with her on this, so I thought I'd give you some ways to work on this problem.


First, if you omit these sounds you run a couple of risks. You can sound not as smart as you are, and you might be difficult to understand. 

Let's say you omit the /t/ sound in "certainly." If you're speaking fast, it could come out as "surly."

Now, I must tell you, as I told her, that fixing the problem of medial consonants is not as easy as some of the other consonant issues. Ending consonants are super easy to fix.  Check out this post for some tips on that. Consonant clusters are a bit more of a challenge, but there aren't many of those in speech. 

But almost every word has at least one medial consonant. 


Granted, not all of these cause problems, but certain words that we say often do call for these consonants to be distinct. Here are a few: 
  • county
  • country
  • important
  • center
  • winter
  • picture
  • painting
Some of the words above can actually become different words when you drop the medial, plosive consonant. 

For example, "winter" becomes "winner" and "center" becomes "sinner." I don't think any football center wants to be called a sinner!


So how do you do the work to change these errors? 

First, you have to be sure you know how to make a consonant plosive correctly. I cover this in an earlier article, so click here to read about perfecting your consonant production.

Next, record yourself, and listen for any medial consonants that you might be dropping. Or you can have a friend do this for you.

Finally, it works well to divide the word you're working on into two different words for practice. 

"Important," for example, would be practiced first as "impor" "Tant." Repeat the word this way many times each day, exaggerating the /t/ sound.

After a few days of this practice, merge the words together, and see if you can still keep the /t/ in the word. If you can, repeat the process of saying the word over and over for a several days until it sounds natural. At first it won't, but don't despair. 

If you keep up this practice, your medial consonants will stop being stumbling blocks. Lots of practice with this pays off.
Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D., is a voice specialist with more than 40 years experience and has helped hundreds of people make the most of their voices, working with broadcasters, voice over artists and podcasters around the world. An author of eight books and over 50 articles on voice, her Broadcast Voice Handbook is a classic textbook offering more advice on how to improve your voice over performance.


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Comments (2)
7/1/2021 at 5:30 PM
Bravo! Let's not go all false Cockney in the name of some kind of race-to-the-bottom class solidarity.
j. valentino
6/11/2019 at 4:39 PM
Interesting. But doesn't this contradict the trend to sound "natural", not polished, etc? I think a lot of people have had to un-learn proper pronunciation to accommodate the deluge of requests for "conversational" or "not-announcer-like" or "Morgan Freeman-esque" requests. Approachable, friendly, should be real/genuine sounding, not over-played, not over the top, no affected, authentic, etc.
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