Practicing Reduced Form and Linking Sound with Taylor Swift

You must’ve listened to a native English speaker and thought, “Why are they speaking so quickly? And you told yourself “I can’t understand anything they’re saying.” Well, you’re not alone. This most likely happens to non-native speakers.The reasons why you can’t seem to understand the native speakers are because they use a lotta reduced speech and linking sound when they speak.

What is reduced speech? It’s when a speaker reduces or eliminates sounds from words or phrases. Did you notice I use “lotta” in my sentence? I just used reduced speech form. I reduced “lot of” to “lotta”. Part of becoming a fluent speaker in English is being able to recognize and produced reduced speech forms.

What is linking sound? When native speakers speak fast, they link (connect) sounds and words together. For example, when native speakers say “sta-pit” [sto-pit], they actually say “stop it”.

• liked it [like-dit]

• turn it on [tur-ni-don]

• good boy [gooboy]

• handbag [hambag]

Another example, “Howyadoin?”, they actually say “How are you doing?” Those four words are pushed together as one word “Howyadoin?” You must be thinking no wonder I can’t understand anything they’re saying.

I’m not a big fan of Taylor Swift, but I found her song Shake It Off is great to practice reduced speech and linking sound. I know the lyrics are kinda tricky to catch because this is an up-beat song, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

Listen to the song and fill in the gaps. Pay more attention to the reduced words and linking sound used in the lyrics.

_____ the players _____

play, play, play, play, play

And the haters _____

hate, hate, hate, hate, hate

Baby, I’m just _____

shake, shake, shake, shake, shake

Shake it off, shake it off

Heartbreakers _____

break, break, break, break, break

And the fakers _____

fake, fake, fake, fake, fake

Baby, I’m just _____

Shake it off, shake it off

I never ____ _ beat

I’m ________ __ my feet

And that’s what they don’t see

That’s what they don’t see

I’m dancing on __ ___

I’ll make the _____ __ __ I go

And that’s what they don’t know

That’s what they don’t know

But I keep cruising

Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving

It’s like I got this music in my mind

Saying it’s _____ be _______


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