In this video, we will be focusing on how Mandarin Chinese sound patterns are different from English, affecting pronunciation. The specific sound to practice in this tutorial is the "V" sound in American English, as in “five.” Click on the video tutorial above to learn about the "V" sound in English and refer to the accompanying text below:
The “V” sound does not exist in Mandarin Chinese phonology, the inventory of speech sounds. This means that there is sometimes a tendency for native Chinese speakers to drop the “V” sound, or replace it with another sound when speaking English. For example, the “V” in “have” may be dropped, and this word may be pronounced as “ha”
How is the “V” sound made?
Let’s take a moment to talk about how the “V” sound is made in English, and then do some practice so you can “see,” “hear,” and "feel" the "V" sound.
The “V” sound is made as follows:
- The lower edges of the upper teeth are lightly contacting the lower lip
- A continuous airstream is passing through the small teeth-lip opening
- Vocal cords are vibrating
Place your hand on your neck- your “voice box” to feel a vibration on your hand when making a prolonged “V” sound. Now try an “F” sound. With the “F,” you should feel the vibration stop on your hand. This is because “F” and “V” are very similar sounds, the only difference being whether or not your vocal cords are vibrating in your larynx. You can feel your vocal cords vibrating with your hand on your neck.
The “F” sound does exist in Mandarin, but the “V” sound does not. The only difference between these sounds in English is the vibrating vocal cords.
First, practice by holding the “F” sound, and switching to the “V” sound with you hand on your neck, and keep alternating between "F" and "V". “Feel” the vibration differences between these sounds.
Try saying these words with “V” at the end of the word. Hold the “V” a little longer and exaggerated at the end to feel the sound.
Can you put some words from the previous list into a short sentence? For example, “He gave a present” or “save your money.”
This tutorial was designed to give native Mandarin Chinese speakers a simple tutorial about the “V” sound to increase your awareness of the sound on your system. Since each speaker is an individual, you may be pronouncing the sound correctly, or you may need extra support from a professional accent teacher. Also, “V” comes in forms that were not covered in this video, for example, in the beginning and middle of words, and if it is being maintained in conversation when speaking quickly.
This video was to understand how “V” is made, how it is similar to “F,” and to learn about vocal cord vibration on your body.
These tutorials are designed to empower the accent student by increasing the awareness of your own pronunciation and sound trends. It is recommended that you consult an accent coach about your own personal pronunciation patterns and accent goals.
Enjoy speaking English with confidence and your language journey!
Leann Rhoades, M.S. CCC-SLP
Accent Coach/ Speech Language Pathologist
All About Accents