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pronunciation of "important" Options
tamcf
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 10:40:44 AM
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Hello, how do you say the word "important"? I've been learning British English and I'd always thought it's "im-por-tant" but several dictionaries and many posh people seem to omit the first "t" and it sounds like "im-por-ant".. Please state which region you're from if you think it's the accent. Thanks a lot! :)
Yakcal
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 11:23:41 AM

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Of all the words to have a question about pronunciation, I never thought important would be one.

Here in the U.S. it is usually pronounced with all three syllables.

I'm not even going to address how the folks in the south say it.

thar
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 11:38:16 AM

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it sounds like you are being shown the 'Estuary English' version - like cockney only with less class! It has a glottal stop instead of a 't' sound for loads of words, so it would say impor"ant. (no rolling r-, it stops short. - imporʔant - where ʔ is a glottal stop).

Not good English to aim for!

Pronounce the 't' - you might sound a bit more 'precise, correct English' than some native speakers, but you can always get more colloquial in time if you want. But if you start off saying it 'badly' it will be harder to make it 'better' once you have learned it.

AE (I know, AE is a very wide range of accents) does have a 'soft' t, almost a 'd', but it is certainly still there.

edit
on the tfd pronounciations (have a listen if you have a sound card) the AE one has quite a hard 't', and the BE one is softer and more d-shaped. But both with a t definitely there!


RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:23:40 PM

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I can speak for AE. From what you say it sounds like BE is working the same.

The first t in important isn't sounded as one would sound the [it[/i] in top (as an example), nor is the a really sounded. Instead, in place of that first t, the tongue is put in position to make a t and there is a glottal stop, at the back of the mouth/top of the throat.

The glottis is the valve at the top of the trachea (windpipe) which closes whenever you swallow. (It keeps you from choking on food and drink.)

(Closing the glottis briefly stops the flow of air. It's what happens when you grunt as you lift something heavy; the grunt is the release of air when the glottis is opened In this case, you don't force the air through as hard as you would in a grunt.)

So, to make the -tant of important you

* put the tongue in the t position and do a glottal stop

* then *immediately on reopening the glottis* you start the n sound
...... the release of the glottal stop results in an itsy-pitsy, eeny-weeny, teeny-tiny almost grunt. Just let it happen; don't try to make it.

* Be careful to leave the tip of your tongue up on the roof of your mouth to start the n sound.

* If you are being careful with your pronunciation, you will make a mild final t by puffing air past the tip of the tongue as you (finally) lower it from the roof of the mouth.

* If you are speaking quickly and/or casually, you'll do a second glottal stop for the last t.
RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:29:15 PM

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Now, I'm laughing about the posts that beat me to it while I was writing.

I was going to say much the same thing, but then I stood up and pretended I was speaking about an "important point". No matter how formally I said it, that first t was a glottal stop, unless I was stressing the word rather unnaturally.
kool-wind
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 1:51:07 PM
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Of course everybody's right about the glottal stop - or should I say glo??al stop - but where I grew up, somewhat south of the Estuary, we pronounce the t's.

However, in my experience it's the final 't' that is prone to suffer from the glottis.
leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 2:42:38 PM

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Herself — What did the urologist say?

Himself — He thinks I'm generally in good health, and he says that I'm "important."

Whistle
tamcf
Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 8:39:41 PM
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Sorry I didn't describe the sound well enough - I meant, to my knowledge, the first "t" is a soft sound more like a "d".. so I guess I've been saying it right? Those who make the "t" too prominent are likely to be non-native speakers, and those who omit it are just not doing it properly... (just like saying "pho-os" instead of "photos" and "ea-en" instead of "eaten" - I had been living in South East England and never heard of this kind of "laid-back" accent until moving to London)

Thanks everyone!
ellana
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 2:39:36 AM
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Good one, leon!!
Tovarish
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 3:44:35 AM
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Im-por-tant
Ray41
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 5:08:02 AM

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Say it quickly and see how it comes out.

You may think that you are you are saying im-por-tant, but, how many of you actually hear, or say, import-ant, the emphasis being a 'hard' t.Think



jacobusmaximus
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 5:43:32 AM

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For the correct pronunciation of 'portant, check your 'puter.
Seriously, in the West of Scotland the glottal stop applies as RuthP describes it, but the word still has three silly bulls.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:18:40 AM

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Overall - most people in the UK would say "impor*nt" (where the * is a glottal stop).

Some (normally 'city dialects') say "impo*nt". As tamfc says, this is not common except in London, and even there it sounds 'bad' or 'uneducated'. I wen 'er a par'y an ad a bo'le a wo'er. I went to a party and had a bottle of water.

This is were leon's joke comes from - it sounds almost exactly like "impotent". (the stress is on the 'o' sound).

Only people who consider themselves really important would say imporTant.
thar
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:22:47 AM

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ah, but in London - the words as Dragon said
- when it is said by a Cockney in East London, it is a living example of a surviving culture and rich dialect
- when it is said by a chav in sarf London or leafy Surrey, it is terrible, uneducated and illiterate! Whistle
jacobusmaximus
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:47:47 AM

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thar wrote:
ah, but in London - the words as Dragon said
- when it is said by a Cockney in East London, it is a living example of a surviving culture and rich dialect
- when it is said by a chav in sarf London or leafy Surrey, it is terrible, uneducated and illiterate! Whistle


Applause Applause Applause
almostfreebird
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 7:20:41 AM
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Isn't "chav" a very derogatory term?






Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 8:46:41 AM

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[image not available]



[image not available]
almostfreebird
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 8:52:08 AM
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Thanks.

I just put this almost at the same time.


http://www.youtube.com/Chavs Turning Emo



mister_moon
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 9:58:25 AM
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almostfreebird: Yes, chav is a derogatory term, that's what's import-unt about it.
Tovarish
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 5:50:01 PM
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Thank you Davg, Ray & I must be really Im-por-Tant, first complement I have had today.

We have some chav and oats down here.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:09:17 PM

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Of course you are! The world wouldn't be the same without you.
excaelis
Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2012 6:51:36 PM

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[quote=Ray41]Say it quickly and see how it comes out.

You may think that you are you are saying im-por-tant, but, how many of you actually hear, or say, import-ant, the emphasis being a 'hard' t.Think



I know exactly ( all consonants pronounced ) what ( occasionally aspirated 'h' when I'm being particularly snotty ) I'm saying and what it sounds like, an' ow ain' siyin' " impo**un*.
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