English is (ex)plosive. Part 3 - rhythmic abdominal muscle contraction!?

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May 15, 2011 07:50 pronunciation
Previously, I wrote about the fact that breath by English speakers are by far more energetic and explosive than that by Japanese speakers.

We don't use stress accents in Japanese, and the each syllable is voiced almost equally in strength without stress. It seems that we don't use much breath to make a syllable compared to English. This is a huge difference.

The difference is often told and taught, but still the picture above (the same one I used in my old entry) shows a shocking difference between two languages.

If you hang a thin paper in front of the mouth of an English speaker, the paper will move back and forth at every word the person utters. In sharp contrast, a thin paper won't move remotely, when it is hung in front of a Japanese mouth.

This is very useful for practise of better pronunciation. Japanese people should learn how to swing the paper efficiently, while English native speakers could learn how to keep it still. In fact, the former is often encouraged by English teachers for Japanese students.

Today, I was recording my English pronunciation for my learning. I thought consonants and vowels were almost OK, if not perfect, and stress accents were mostly clear, but still my voice definitely had a clear Japanese taste. I was wondering what the biggest difference is. Why doesn't my English sound like a stuttering native speaker of English?

Then, I probably found something. When my English sounded more 'English', my abdominal muscles vibrantly and rhythmically contracted and relaxed at every stressed syllable. However, when it sounds somehow more 'Japanese' and flatter, my abdominal muscles were in a constant mild tension. I could tell the difference with my fingers placed on my stomach.

I guess, to produce enormous air blow from your mouth, you, English speakers, do quickly contract your abdominal muscles at every word, don't you? Or am I wrong?

If you could feel the muscle contraction with your fingers on your tummy at every word you speak, please let me know! Negative results are also welcome.









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