Elements of Pronunciation:

Determine what features to study


This advice sheet introduces the elements of pronunciation that you can study.

Elements of Pronunciation

Let's start by dividing the elements of pronunciation into two categories: segmental (accuracy) and suprasegmental (fluency). Table 1 summaries the elements within each category.

Table 1. Elements of Pronunciation in Two Categories
Segmental Suprasegmental
consonants

vowels

intonation

linking

rhythm

syllables

sentence stress

word stress

weak forms

You are probably not familiar with all the terms in Table 1. For a brief explanation of any of these terms, click Pronunciation Terminology. The words presented in Table 1 are common in pronunciation books. Knowing these words makes it easier to review the contents of pronunciation books.

Most pronunciation books present the segmental elements first. In other words, they start with the individual sounds of a language. Then, they move on to the suprasegmental features. However, it is not necessary to start at the beginning of a pronunciation book and work systematically through it. You can practice chosen segmental elements and suprasegmental features at the same time.

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Diane Pilkinton-Pihko. Version 1, 1999. All rights reserved.