I often get asked this question, by people who are happy with their accents, but want to enunciate their words. They want to elocute clearer, be more articulate and heard. Does this sound like you? What makes someone’s speech clear and precise?
Apart from the way they use their voice, it is articulation of these sounds that makes someone’s speech crisp and clear.
The lips, teeth, tongue, palate make up our speech sounds, in your mouth. The tongue is the most flexible organ and can move in all different directions. Everytime the voice stream passes through the mouth, the complicated series of movements performed by the speech organs make up speech.
The voice-stream is carried by the vowels. The consonants give definition and shape to the vowels, and make up syllables of speech. Speech is an energetic process and clarity of speech depends on how well we use our energy.
During formation of consonants, the breath stream is stopped and released. Hence the following ‘stop’ consonants have the biggest impact in articulation when said correctly.
The sounds are: /t, d, p, b, k, g/. These sounds are known as STOP consonants, for simplicity. When said correctly, they release a puff of air, which helps with clarity. These sounds also appear in most past tenses and ends of words.
For example: ./Tripped, looked, bagged, mopped, pitted, dated/ Try saying these sounds without the stop sounds being clear.
Another example is trying to say : The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog.
Try to say the sentence by clearly articulating the last sound of the words, and record yourself.
Try saying the same sentence out loud and make an effort not to say the last sounds. Record yourself and compare to the first and second recording. You will be astounded at the difference in your voice when you include the last sound of words.
Three simple steps to better articulation
- Adequate breath control.
- Adequate posture of mouth. Adopt up-down posture, so that the tongue can have the space to move.
- Focus on pronouncing all the stop sounds in a word. STOP sounds occur at all positions, however make the most impact when you say them at the end of the words. Highlight the ends of words in a paragraph and read out aloud. Notice the difference it makes in your clarity. It is as simple as that!