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Considering Pronunciation, Articulation, and Dialect in Public Speaking

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  • 0:01 Vocal Traits in Speech…
  • 0:51 Pronunciation Matters
  • 1:40 Articulation Is an Art
  • 2:30 Distinguishing Dialect
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

The speaker's culture and habits often have much to do with the vocal traits of a speech. Thus, punctuation, articulation and dialect are three very personal aspects of speech delivery.

Vocal Traits in Speech Delivery

So, you and your friends are sitting around the dining hall talking about your Poli-Psych class. Each of you has a different instructor, but the subject is the same.

Your friend Smitster says, 'I really like Professor Bigelow. He tells us all kinds of interesting stuff, and his accent is so cool. British, you know.' Meanwhile, you are like, 'What? Really, dude? My professor is so boring. I can hardly understand her. She has an accent thicker than mud and a personality to match.'

Well, it really all comes down to vocal traits. These are characteristics that make up the way a speaker speaks, including the way he pronounces his words, the way he articulates and even the dialect he uses. It doesn't seem like any big deal, but how the message comes across is just as important as the message itself.

Pronunciation Matters

Katie Bobbins, a motivational speaker, should have practiced her pronunciation when she told the audience, 'If you want to see the Secrets to Success, you will have to ask for it.'

Ah! Pronunciation makes all the difference. This is how consonants and vowels are formed and even where syllables are accentuated.

Imagine the horror when the speaker mispronounced one very small word. Had the speaker practiced, she would have avoided a terrifying situation.

There are ways to avoid situations like this:

  • Record yourself first
  • Listen for mispronounced words
  • Take frequent pauses
  • Visualize the word spelled out on paper
  • Create a spelling that will help you to remember how to say the word

Pronunciation is not the only thing a speaker can mess up.

Articulation Is an Art

If pronunciation means putting the consonants and vowels together, then articulation is how well we put the vowels and consonants together and pass them through our lips and mouth. Let's face it; we work hard to write a speech that is compelling and interesting. It's important to convey the information in an intelligent way.

What sounds better to you? 'I dint bring visuals to show you today,' or 'I did not bring visuals to show you today.' Yes, I thought so. The best way to improve articulation is to practice it in your everyday life. Listen to others as well.

If a friend tells you he is 'gunna' pick you up after school, think about that and find a way to properly articulate the same statement. He must have meant he was 'going to.'

Get it? Practice enough and it will become a habit. Another consideration is dialect.

Distinguishing Dialect

You've heard it before. I say tomato; he says tomato. When I say tomato, I am actually saying 'TO-MAY-TO.' When he says it, it sounds like this: 'TO-MAH-TO.'

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