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  1. #1
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    Default Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    I speak English well enough for most people not to notice that I am not a native speaker but there are two words that I just can't seem to get right.
    I don't have a problem with the "th" sounds that causes difficulties for so many foreigners but when it comes to adding the S at the end of "monthS" I am failing completely. If I add the S I lose the H.
    I have tried repeating it after hearing my husband say it and it feels like I am tripping over my own tongue. The same goes for the "shr" part of "shrimp." That comes out "swimp" everytime. In seafood-loving New Orleans this makes me sound silly.
    Is there any way for me to improve this? Obviously, "shrimp" is less of a problem than "months" since I rarely need to use it, but it still bothers me that I can't get these two words right.
    Maybe there is a way to practise it. If not, does anyone have a suggestion for a different way of expressing myself without saying "months?" In some cases I can use X number of weeks, or X number of years, but many times this ends up sounding strange.
    Thank you in advance for any help.

  2. #2
    jlinger is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    For "months" just forget about the "th" and say "munce" (rhymes with "once"). There will be those on this board who tell you that is wrong, but no native speaker will notice the difference.

    For "shrimp" practice with two words: "sure" (as in be sure of yourself, pronounced "shure") and "imp". Sure-imp, sure-imp, sure-imp. Run the R onto the imp: Sure+rimp, sure+rimp. Make sure you are NOT emphasizing the Sure part. Try lifting your voice at the end, on the "imp" to make sure you don't emphasize the "sure." Sure-RIMP, sure-RIMP. Visualize the "u" disappearing from the "shure" part ("shr"). Then speed it up and run them together.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    Quote Originally Posted by jlinger View Post
    For "months" just forget about the "th" and say "munce" (rhymes with "once"). There will be those on this board who tell you that is wrong, but no native speaker will notice the difference.
    I agree. You could also experiment with 'munts' - which is practically the same as 'munce' (and 'months').

  4. #4
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    Quote Originally Posted by NikkiBarber View Post
    I don't have a problem with the "th" sounds that causes difficulties for so many foreigners but when it comes to adding the S at the end of "monthS" I am failing completely. If I add the S I lose the H.
    I have tried repeating it after hearing my husband say it and it feels like I am tripping over my own tongue.

    Maybe there is a way to practise it. Yes, get your husband or someone to show you how your tongue and teeth have to work together to say "months" correctly. Using a mirror may help.
    2006

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    That's really very interesting!

  6. #6
    thatone is offline Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    In words like months, clothes, fifths, eights, the /θ/ or // can be omitted.
    According to Merriam Webster, for instance, the primary pronunciation of "months" is /mʌn(t)s/ and secondary /mʌn(t)θs/. Similarly clothes is /kloʊz/, and the alternate (also) one is /kloʊz/.

    As for shrimp, if you really can't say it, /srɪmp/ is supposedly a Southern variant.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    Quote Originally Posted by thatone View Post
    In words like months, clothes, fifths, eights, the /θ/ or // can be omitted.
    According to Merriam Webster, for instance, the primary pronunciation of "months" is /mʌn(t)s/ and secondary /mʌn(t)θs/. Similarly clothes is /kloʊz/, and the alternate (also) one is /kloʊz/.

    As for shrimp, if you really can't say it, /srɪmp/ is supposedly a Southern variant.
    Be aware that Merriam Webster is only good for AmE. They also don't say that /mʌn(t)s/ is the primary pronunication do they? They simply list it first.
    Also, I find this very strange:
    \ˈmən(t)th\
    Month - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    I've never heard 'month' with a schwa.

    If you look up, say Cambridge, you'll find:
    month noun /mʌnt θ/ n


    Definition of month noun from Cambridge Dictionary Online: Free English Dictionary and Thesaurus


    I agree that the OP could get away with 'munts' though.

  8. #8
    thatone is offline Member
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Be aware that Merriam Webster is only good for AmE.
    Yes, and the OP is living in the US, so I thought MW would be the most reliable dictionary.
    They also don't say that /mʌn(t)s/ is the primary pronunication do they? They simply list it first.
    I'm not 100% positive about this, but I think they list the most used pronunciation first. This can be seen in words like either (where /ithər/ is shown first) or root (where /rut/ is shown first) or even dog, where /dɒ:g/ (or /dɔg/ if you prefer) is shown first. I could be wrong though.
    Also, I find this very strange:
    \ˈmən(t)th\
    Month - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    I've never heard 'month' with a schwa.
    Well, the vowel in words like month, tough, cut etc. is (supposedly) actually a stressed schwa. Therefore American dictionaries often use the schwa instead of /ʌ/, supposedly because /ʌ/ isn't very accurate, since it can really be /ʌ/, /ɜ/, /ɐ/, /ɘ/ etc. depending on the dialect. It's confusing, but you're supposed to make out the actual sound based on the stress of the word.

  9. #9
    NikkiBarber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    Thank you all for the suggestions. I'll try to practice a little with a mirror, but I don't think there is any way that my mouth will ever make the sounds in "months" come out right so I am trying some of the suggested alternatives to see if I can make any of those sound acceptable. I feel like I am coming a little closer to getting "shrimp" right.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Pronunciation of "months" and "shrimp."

    Quote Originally Posted by thatone View Post
    Well, the vowel in words like month, tough, cut etc. is (supposedly) actually a stressed schwa. Therefore American dictionaries often use the schwa instead of /ʌ/, supposedly because /ʌ/ isn't very accurate, since it can really be /ʌ/, /ɜ/, /ɐ/, /ɘ/ etc. depending on the dialect. It's confusing, but you're supposed to make out the actual sound based on the stress of the word.
    I thought IPA was supposed to have solved this problem. Anyhow, I like a schwa to have its traditional sound. But M-W might not even be using IPA. Perhaps it's an American schwa?

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