1,000 Word Challenge #2 – Above, Shove, Love

British Accent Training: ‘Ove’ Combination

Today in the 1,000 word challenge we’re looking at the ‘ove’ combination. All of these words have these combination in. On it’s own, the ‘ove’ phrase feels like it should be a long vowel, an ‘uh-ooh’ like we saw in our first episode. But actually, all of these vowels are deceptively short. The ‘ove’, in these words, becomes a short sound. The ‘shove’ is actually the same vowel as ‘shut’. ‘Love’ is the same vowel as ‘lust’. ‘Above’ is the same vowel sound as ‘buff’.

To get the mouth shape, relax the mouth completely into an ‘uh’ sound. The tongue should be completely relaxed, the lips floppy and useless. Say ‘uh, uh, uh’. Now, keep everything relaxed and drop the jaw about half an inch. You should get the ‘above’, ‘shove’, ‘love’ sound.

British Accent Training: Short Vowels, Long Vowels and Diphthongs

The British accent is composed of three types of vowels. You have short vowels, like the ‘ih’ in ‘hit’. You have long vowels, like the ‘ee’ in ‘heat’. And you have diphthongs – combinations of two different vowel sounds – like in ‘hear’, which starts on an ‘ih’ and ends in an ‘uh’.

Which one does the ‘ove’ fit into? In these words, the ‘ove’ means that it’s a short vowel. And in short vowels, you emphasise the consonants. For instance, you don’t say ‘I looooooooooove you’ if you really want to emphasise it. Instead, you say ‘I lovvvvvve you.’ It seems like a small definition, but it’s actually very noticeable if you say it out loud.

British Accent Training: Exceptions

There are exceptions to every rule – but among the 1,000 most common words, there’s only one word where you don’t say the ‘ove’ combination as a short vowel. That’s in the word ‘over’, where it becomes an ‘uh-ooh’ diphthong again. But otherwise, you can be very well assured that the ‘ove’ sound means it’s a short, sharp vowel that rhymes with ‘shut’, ‘lust’, and ‘buff’.


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