How To Ar-Tic-U-Late Your T's
And D's - Without Overdoing It
September 8, 2016
By Ann Utterback
Voice Specialist and Author, Broadcast Voice Handbook
Schools are beginning a new year around the country, but I’ve got a final exam for you!
Almost everyone has difficulty articulating the /t/ or /d/ sound when that sound is tucked in between two other consonants as in the word, "expertly.” It just seems too hard to hit that /t/, and if we do try, it sounds over-pronounced.
An artificial and over-pronounced delivery is as offensive as using sloppy articulation and should be avoided at all costs.
But if you’re really diligent, you can hit these /t/ /d/ sounds without sounding over-pronounced.
BREAK IT DOWN
Here’s the trick: learn to produce a /tl/ or /dl/ combination of sound smoothly and effortlessly. Let’s break it down.
The /l/ sound is a bilateral sound, which means it comes over the edges of the tongue.
COMBINE THE TWO
Now combine just the /t/ and the /l/ to make a /tl/ sound.
Explode the /t/ and quickly pull the tongue back for the /l/. This gives you a little couplet to practice.
To make these two sounds together requires a LOT of practice, but if you stay at it, the sounds will begin to blend. Practice when you’re driving or have a few minutes alone.
You don’t have to remember anything except /tl/ and /dl/ to practice.
PRACTICE THESE WORDS
The next step is to plug this blend into some words. Here’s a list to practice (taken from Improving Voice & Articulation by Hilda Fisher):
SAID ANOTHER WAY ..
If not, here’s another thing to try: Think of the word as divided right before the /t/ or /d/ so you say, "mos tly” or "fon dly.”
Putting the cluster by itself can make it flow easier.
Practice starting with a big break and then reduce the space until the two parts of the word are united, but you’re still able to make the clusters easily.
I said you’d need to practice diligently to make this work, so go for it!
And if you are a nut about proper pronunciation like I am, check out Kenyon and Knott’s, A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English. It’s been around since 1953 and is the go-to source for pronunciation. It uses the American Phonetic Alphabet, but there’s a great chart in the front to use.
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.Web: http://OnlineVoiceCoaching.com
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