1,000 Word Challenge #4 – Song, Strong, Long

British Accent Training: ‘Ong’ Combination

Time to look at a new combination – the ‘ong’ combo. It’s a combination of two sounds: the ‘oh’ in ‘god’, ‘body’, ‘sorry’ and the ‘ng’ sound at the end of the word. Let’s look at the ‘oh’ first.

In various European accents, this ‘oh’ sound tends to get quite small, almost an ‘uh’ sound. ‘Song’ turns into ‘sng’, ‘strong’ turns into ‘strng’. The key difference is the jaw position. In the ‘sng’ sound, the jaw hardly moves at all. But if the jaw is allowed to drop a little further, you get a darker, deeper quality. Drop that jaw!

In Scottish accents, the ‘oh’ tends to elongate and become a ‘or’, almost like ‘caught’, ‘awful’ or ‘more’. The key to alter this is to make the sound shorter, dropping the jaw as above. The lips also do something different, slightly puckering out instead of tucking in for the ‘ore’ sound.

British Accent Training: ‘Ng’ Consonant

The podcast also explores the ‘ng’ sound, present on all of these words. It’s called a nasal consonant, and is made by connecting the back of the tongue to the soft palate in the back of the mouth.

Sometimes, the sound can turn into a ‘n’. This is where the tongue doesn’t quite connect to the soft palate, and instead touches the hard palate at the front of the mouth. To change this, keep the tip of your tongue touching your bottom teeth when you say the sound.

Other times, you can get a little kick-off at the end of the word, as in ‘song-k’. With this, it’s important to smoothly remove the tongue from the soft palate, as though you’re smoothly peeling an orange. It shouldn’t feel like a hard pop – that’s what produces the ‘k’ sound.

British Accent Training: Exceptions

There’s only one exception when it comes to the ‘ong’ letter combination in the 1,000 most common words: tongue. With that sound, you make the ‘uh’ sound that we explored in the ‘above’, ‘shove’, and ‘love’ podcast. But other than that, it’s rare you’ll find ‘ong’ doing anything different than this. Good luck!


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