Whether you came to America before or after the earthquake, the culture shock of adjusting to life here must be immense. And then, you are faced with the added burden of figuring out how to communicate with those around you.
Even if you speak English, your Creole background may make it difficult for others to understand you. I would imagine that you wish there were an easy way to improve your English pronunciation. It would make your life much less frustrating, wouldn’t it? Did you know that just by changing a few of the sounds you say, you can make your speech sound less like Creole English and more like standard American English?
When you speak English, it is very natural for you to use the pronunciation rules for Creole, but they don’t work as well in English. That’s where your accent comes from — when you try to apply rules of Creole speech to English. So, learning some of the English rules will make your English much clearer, In this post, I’m going to share with you seven of the most common mistakes that Creole speakers make when speaking English.
- Not pronouncing initial h — Creole speakers don’t pronounce the h in the beginning of words, but English speakers do. Words like he, human, and horse need to start with the h sound.
- Not pronouncing final k — Many Creole speakers leave the final k off of words, which can cause confusion. When the k is not pronounced, stake sounds like stay, and fork sounds like four.
- Not pronouncing final d — Again, Creole speakers tend to leave off the final sound, but this time it is the d sound. This can change not only the word, but it can also cause confusion in grammar, because the past tense -ed endings are not pronounced. So, play and played would sound the same, and so would row and road.
- Not pronouncing final t — This is very similar to leaving off the d sound, as it affects both understanding words and knowing when the past tense is being used. Without the final t sound, I stop and I stopped sound the same, as do lie and light.
- Substituting long e for short I — This vowel confusion is very common, but learning both vowels will go a long way in making your speech more understandable. Practice saying word pairs like sheep/ship, deep/dip, beet/bit, seat/sit, and sleep/slip.
- Substituting o for a — This confusion probably is due to overcompensating when reading the word. It often occurs with words that are spelled with an o sound in the middle, but are pronounced with an ah sound, such as mop, job, and blocks.
- Not distinguishing between oo sounds — There is more than one way to pronounce the oo sound, and the two most common are the “short” oo, as in book, look, and took; and the “long” oo, as in school, pool, and tool.
With a little practice, you will begin to hear the difference between Creole English and the more standard American English pronunciation. Before long, you will feel much more comfortable and confident speaking English!