In this American English pronunciation video,
we’re going to talk about how to reduce and link the word ‘to’ and ‘the’ together, in
a sentence, like this: to the. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in my videos
talking about reduction and linking. And today, I want to take the specific case of linking
the words ‘to’ and ‘the’, and talk about how to simplify the mouth movement when we’re
reducing these words, linking them, and making them very, very fast. The first thing I want to point out, is that
there doesn’t have to be any movement in the lips or the jaw: we can articulate this with
just the tongue. To the. So, what are we doing here. The word ‘to’ will reduce to either
the true T-schwa sound, or the flap T-schwa sound. But for both of them, the tongue position
will be the same. So the tongue tip is up at the roof of the mouth, tt, tt, tt, with
the jaw quite closed and the teeth pretty much together: tt, tt, dd, dd. And I can make
that sound just by moving the tongue, the jaw doesn’t have to move: tt, dd, tt, dd.
Now, to make the TH for the word ‘the’. I do not need to bring the tongue all the way
through the teeth. I can just bring it down, so it’s touching just behind, where the teeth
come together. To the. Let’s look at this up close and in slow motion. The word T-H-E is pronounced with the EE vowel
when the next word begins with a vowel or diphthong. For example, to the other side,
to the east. In these cases as well, all the articulation will happen with the tongue. It will probably take a good bit of time and
drilling to get this new way of saying ‘to the’ into your habit. But it is worth doing.
Because when we simplify the mouth movement, it means it’s going to be easier to say it
quickly in speech. And when we reduce and pronounce these unstressed words very quickly
like this, it provides a nice contrast for the stressed words, which are much longer,
and have a lot more shape. As you drill these two words, put them into sentence fragments,
and eventually sentences. To the. To the store. To the restaurant. I’m going to the restaurant.
It will really help you to integrate that into your everyday speech. That’s it, and thanks so much
for using Rachel’s English.