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Impress Your Friends and Colleagues and the Best Reason to Master the “N”

Date: Feb. 4, 2021 Title: Impress Your Friends and Colleagues and the Best Reason to Master the “N”

In the preceding blog in Dec. 2020, you learned “How to impress your friends and the best reason to master the “Th”.

Now get this “Impress your friends and colleagues and the best reason to master the “N”.

Why master the “N”?   “N” is the most used consonant in English.   In OEC, the Oxford English Corpus’s list of the 100 most frequently written English words, N occurs in twenty (20) words, or one-fifth.  Here are those 20 words:

 #5 and

 #7 in

 # 13 not

 #14 on

 #32 an

 # 51 when

 #53 can

 #56 no

 #59 know

 #62 into

 #71 than

 #72 then

 #73 now

 #75 only

 #79 think

 #91 even

 #92 new

 #93 want

 #95 any

     Notice that  eight (8), almost half of these 20 words, end with the consonant N  —   in, on, an, when. can, than, then, even.  N at the ends of words and syllables are more difficult to pronounce than at the beginning of words or syllables.

      Notably N is also the most frequently spoken English consonant because of  prefixes and suffixes:

     Prefixes include ano-, ana-, in-, en-, on-, -non-, -mon-, non-, anti-, down-, hind-, mini-, under-, anglo-, ante-, con-, contro-, counter-, Franco-, Indo-, infra-, inter-, intra-,  neo-, non-, omni-, pan-, syn, trans-, uni-

     Suffixes include -en, -in, -on, -tion,  -tian, -cion, -ment, -mint, -mont, -mount, -ain ain, -ation, -ana, -nic, -nik, -onym, -senior, -junior, -yllion.

   Also, Wikipedia lists 66 Latin stems in English which begin with the letter n.

    Importantly, high pronunciation error is n, especially for “N” at the ends of words.

    Top error for pronunciation of “N” is  making it loud enough, again, especially at the ends of words.  The physiological reason for this error is that the mouth is closed for this sound and air is directed through the nose; such a small area muffles the sound.

      The second reason for error for English “N” is positioning of the tongue is different for other languages.

Below is a brief description of pronouncing “N” in American English:

Positioning of the tongue is the critical and super important feature: Push the tip of your tongue up to the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth.

 Minimum duration of  “N” is to hold the tip of your tongue again the roof of your mouth long enough to force the air through your nose and long enough and loud enough to hear a clear “N” sound.

Maximum—there is no maximum duration of the “N” pronunciation  for work-out practice.  Do work-out practice for home practice.  Push the tip of the tongue hard and stiff to the roof of the mouth, right behind the front teeth, and hold.  This work-out practice will make the muscles strong that push the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. These are slow- twitch muscles.

This technique gets a loud enough “N” every time– go up in pitch on the speech sound, like singing.

Why does this technique work? Closing the mouth and the flow of air through the nose changes the air pressure above and below the vocal folds which stops the vocal fold vibration.  By going up in pitch, the speaker is stretching or lengthening the vocal folds which automatically pushes them together and voicing can occur more easily for a greater duration.

Seeing pronunciation of “N” is often better than written words. YouTube.com/ClearTalkMastery –  Accent Reduction Tips #23  “N” for “environmental”.

Copyright 2021 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc

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