Saturday, November 21, 2015

English Strong and Weak Forms

Many English words have both a strong and weak pronunciation. They are known as strong and weak forms. The strong forms are used in isolation and in careful speech. In casual speech, the weak forms are common.

The word or has a strong and weak form. The strong form rhymes with for, but the weak form has the pronunciation of the final syllable of elevator. In the question "Soup or salad?" the weak pronunciation of the word sounds the same as "Super salad?" Other words which have strong and weak forms are and, for, to, he, her and him.

The strong pronunciaton of and rhymes with sand, but the weak pronunciation has a different vowel sound and lacks the final consonant. In the phrases black and white, fish and chips and salt and pepper, the weak pronunciation is normally used. For this reason, fish and chips is often spelt fish 'n chips.

The weak forms are usually accompanied by little stress. In the sentence, "This is for you," the word for is usually unstressed-this results in a weak pronunciation. The weak form of for has the pronunciation of the final syllable of elevator. 

The strong pronunciation of to rhymes with two, but the weak pronunciation has a much shorter vowel, the same vowel that is heard in the weak pronunciations of and and for.

In the words he, her and him, the h is pronounced in the strong forms but dropped in the weak forms. Some dialects of English never pronounce the letter h. One such dialect is Cockney, which is spoken in London. In these dialects he, her and him only have one form.

A number of English words have strong and weak forms. These words are often very common words such as and, for and two. The strong forms are common in formal speech, and the weak forms are common in casual speech.

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