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常見發音錯誤 Common pronunciation errors: consonant clusters

A group of two or more consonant sounds before or after a vowel sound is called a consonant cluster.

For example:

  • /b/ + /l/ in ‘black’
  • /d/ + /r/ and /ŋ/ + /k/ in ‘drink’

Many HK Chinese candidates mispronounce them (often dropping the second sound of the cluster) because Cantonese does not have them.

So, ‘black’ becomes “back” (by dropping the /l/ sound), ‘free’ becomes “fee” (dropping the /r/ sound), and ‘drink’ becomes “jing” (by dropping the /r/ and /k/ sounds). Sometimes, sounds are replaced with alternative sounds. For example, ‘stretch’ becomes “scratch” (by replacing /t/ with /k/) and shifting the vowel /e/ to /æ/ (another pronunciation error often made by HK Chinese candidates).

These errors are likely to limit the candidate’s Pronunciation band score to 5 (or lower depending on the severity and frequency) because they can cause comprehension problems for the listener.

Test yourself

  • Ask an English speaker to listen to you say a word on the left or right and tell you which word they hear you say (left or right).
  • Pay particular attention to the second table showing mispronunciations of past tense regular (-ed) verbs.

EXAMPLES (consonant cluster on the left; mispronunciation on the right):

/fl/ vs /f/

flavourfavour
flowfoe

/fr/ vs /f/

freefee
phrasephase

/θr/ vs /f/

threefee
throwfoe

/bl/ vs /b/

blindbind
blurryburry

/br/ vs /b/

bravebave

/dr/ vs /dʒ/

drumjum

/kl/ vs /k/

clearKia
clickkick

/gl/ vs /g/

glassGarse

/sl/ vs /s/

slowsow

/sp/ vs /p/

spinpin

/kr/ vs /k/

crateKate
cravecave
cruelcool

/pl/ vs /p/

pleasepeas
plantspants

/pr/ vs /p/

praypay
printerPinter

/tr/ vs /tʃ/

treechee
trimchim

/nd/ vs /n/

findfine

/kw/ vs /k/

queenkeen

/shr/ vs /sh/

shredshed
shrewshoe

/str/ vs /st/

strainstain

/st/ vs /s/

boastBose
REGULAR VERBS (these errors can also affect your grammar score when past tense is required)

/kt/ vs /k/

cookedcook

/pt/ vs /p/

slippedslip

/ʃt/ vs /ʃ/

finishedfinish

/st/ vs /s/

facedface
sentencedsentence

/gd/ vs /d/

baggedbag

/bd/ vs /b/

bribedbribe

/dʒd/ vs /dʒ/

judgedjudge

/zd/ vs /z/

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