1,000 Word Challenge #3 – Tiny, Fine, Mine

British Accent Training: ‘Ine’ Combination

Time to look at a new combination! It’s the ‘ine’ one today, which very often defaults to a long diphthong. In the words ‘fine’ and ‘mine’, the vowel sound elongates, creating a ‘ah-ee’ sound which extends quite a long way. This is crucial for developing a British sound on this word, as the British will tend to spend quite a long time on this ‘Ine’. It’s very similar to words such as ‘time’, ‘prime’ or ‘climb’. It starts on that ‘ah’ sound, and moves over to the ‘ee’ by the end.

Bear in mind that on ‘tiny’, the ‘ine’ sound has a little ‘ee’ on the end. It’s nice to have the ‘tiny’ word in there, as it shows that even this long vowel can be part of a tiny word!

British Accent Training: Mouth Position

So we now that we know that the ‘ah-ee’ combination is a diphthong, and moves a good way when you’re saying it, where does it move? The tongue starts quite low in the mouth, dropping almost to the bottom to create a ‘ah’ sound. It’s like the vowel in ‘start’ or ‘part’. But as you say the vowel, the tongue sweeps upwards to the top of the mouth, creating an ‘ee’ sound. When you get to the ‘ee’, the sides of the tongue should touch the top molars and there should be a sense of smallness between the roof of the mouth and the top of the tongue. You should feel that it’s a big swing from the bottom to the top, a large motion, but one that’s pretty much all in the tongue, not the lips or jaw.

British Accent Training: Exceptions

There are only a few exceptions to the ‘ine’ rule. The first is ‘imagine’, where the ‘ah-ee’ diphthong changes to a ‘in’ sound, like in ‘tin’ or ‘finished’. The next is ‘business’, where the ‘ine’ in the middle is more like a turning point between the ‘bus’ (biz) and ‘ness’ (nis). You can see that in both of these examples, the ‘ine’ is not the focus of the word. It’s in smaller words where the ‘ine’ really comes to the fore, like the ones we’ve picked out.


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