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-ed’s, “learned” (adj.) & in defence of texting!

February 1, 2013

I’m quite happy with the progress showed by the students who used to mispronounce the -ed ending. I think I’ve explained it in all the groups. In my presentation, to make this issue simpler, I told you

  1. that you should NEVER pronounce the “e” (the Spanish “e”) in the “-ed” ending (cross it out in red when you see it),
  2. that you can simply pronounce an ending “t”, to make sure you include the dental sound indicative of a regular past tense, and
  3. that when the verb in the infinitive ends in a dental sound (d or t), to avoid assimilation (fusión), and consequently, your verb sounding like a present or infinitive, you need to separate both dentals with an /I/ sound: started = /stártid/ (vowel support).

Well, if you are good at this, and you want to improve further, you will know if you need to pronounce a /d/ or a /t/ by feeling your vocal chords: with vowels and voiced consonants, your “-ed” would be pronounced /d/, as in received /risívd/, jammed /dzaemd/, played /plaied/, studied /stádid/, webbed /webd/… Why all vowels? Because all vowels are voiced. What’s “voiced”? Say AHHHH out loud, with your fingers touch your throat till you notice the vibration of your vocal chords. Now say MMMMMM. Your chords should vibrate, too. But there are voiceless consonants, too: say P – P (with no accompanying vowel sound!), say SH, SH, say K-K-K, all of these are voiceless consonants: your vocal chords do not vibrate when you utter them.

All this you know now. So I’m going to mention some exceptions: you know the verb “to learn”. In US American English it’s regular: learned. In British English it’s irregular: learnt. Both can be pronounced /lE:rnt/ though if you wish to be accurate you can pronounce /lE:rnd/ for the regular spelling. Well, there’s more: there’s an adjective which is spelled/spellt “learned” but pronounced /lÉ:rnId/. Today this word came up in Avanzado 2.

The thing is I used it to say “a learned person is someone who knows what kind of language to use depending on context.” (However, I might be wrong about using “learned” here. I need to check that. I haven’t updated my knowledge on “learned” for a few decades now!) (Perhaps we should just say “a knowledgeable person”?)

By the way, I used that word because I was complaining about the prejudice (at least I think it is a prejudice) against texting. We speak differently to different kinds of people, in different kinds of situations. It’s absurd to text a message writing complete words and complete sentences as if one were writing a letter! As absurd as if we wrote a complaint letter using the kind of abbreviations we use while texting! It’s absurd to say that creating a language of abbreviations (a language that shows how creative and amazing human ability to communicate is) is the reason why people make spelling mistakes — as if people were born knowing how to spell and got corrupted when learning how to text! 😀

Similarly, if you are with friends who are happily hanging out with you and you say, “Get a life!”, they’ll take it as a joke and have a laugh. If you are with a friend who is suffering depression, you will not use that wording, nor the same tone, or body language. You’d sound brutal. You will say something like: I think you could take up some kind of activity you enjoy. You can’t stay in all day, crying. Let’s go out now for a walk.”

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