Students tend to practice pronunciation and linked speech naturally, with songs and general conversation, but a great way to hit them over the head with linked speech is to use some Knock Knock jokes in class.
Many knock knock jokes are funny because we don’t anticipate the answer.
This often happens because jokes take advantage of how linked speech makes words sound.
Look at the examples below to see how linked speech can create funny ambiguities in pronunciation of particular words and phrases.
Losing a sound
Scold over here; please let me in!
Normally this would be said as, “It is cold over here.”
In this case though the IT has been dropped completely leaving just the S.
Since S and C blend the result is SCOLD rather than IT IS COLD.
Let’s look a few more examples:
Zany body going to let me in?
Here the phrase IS ANY loses the IH sound.
Les start using more knock knock jokes with pronunciation!
LET’S loses the T sound.
If changes to F
We can see this with other phrases as well. Check out these jokes where the word IF changes to the F sound:
Phony you’d let me in you could see who I am.
Fanny body calls for me just tell them I am here on your doorstep.
Leaving out the T sound
We can see this at the end of words too. Both of these punch lines originally had contractions, but through the power of linked speech we don’t pronounce the T.
Dozen anyone have a doorbell anymore; my wrists hurt?
Dawn leave me out here, please!
Do you get it?
To conclude see if you can tell what letter got dropped from this joke?
Augusta wind blew my umbrella way.
If you guessed the F from of then you’re right!
Normally we would say, “A GUST OF WIND.”
Sometimes sounds just don’t magically disappear, instead they combine with other sounds. In this case there are two Ts (one in last and one in time). Rather than pronounce each T separately there is a habit to combine both words turning into: “Lastime.”
Lass time I saw you was years ago, but I am still offended you have to ask!
So the next time you hear a knock knock joke don’t just roll your eyes! Take a moment to think about what it is teaching you about the way English is pronounced… And then laugh.
Carissa Peck has been teaching English since 2008 in North America, Europe and Asia. She believes that anything (e.g. her cat, bad dates, lame jokes) can be used as a jumping off point for teaching an involved lesson! When she isn’t planning lessons around horrible puns she is probably writing in her blog //eslcarissa.blogspot.mx/ or exploring her newest location (currently Mexico).
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