Glossary of Pronunciation Terms

Glossary of Pronunciation TermsAlthough I try to keep my language as simple as possible and stay away from linguistic terminology as much as I can, there are some language terms that simply can’t be avoided in a discussion about pronunciation. I will be defining common terms here, and will be updating this page as I continue to introduce new topics on the blog, forums, and in the English Pronunciation Course. If there is a term that I have used that isn’t defined here, please mention it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

Consonant: Every letter of the alphabet except for the vowels (A, E, I, O, U).

Prefix: A beginning which can be added to a root word to change the root’s meaning or part of speech. Some common prefixes are un-, dis-, pre- and re-. Prefixes are important in pronunciation because they can create a word stress shift when added to a root word.

Root word: Also known as ‘base word’, the root word is the original word that is left when it is stripped of any prefixes, suffixes or grammar markers. For example, the root word of ‘overcommitted’ would be ‘commit’.

Suffix: An ending which can be added to a root word to change the root’s meaning or part of speech. Some common suffixes are -tion, -al, -y and -ic. Suffixes are important in pronunciation because they can create a word stress shift when added to a root word.

Syllables: Words can be broken up into syllables. Think of syllables as ‘beats’ of a word. Each syllable contains one vowel sound. For further discussion, see my post on syllables.

Vowels: A, E, I, O, U. Note that vowel sounds can be made up of more than one vowel.


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