You know, it took me forever to film this video.
There are so many little details in this word that we tried something like 8 different takes before I got it right.
Here’s my best attempt at explaining
How to pronounce ‘Strength’:
Let’s talk about the word “strength”, “strength” – a lot of consonants. So, I have a lot to say about this word, so stay with me.
We begin with an ‘str’ consonant cluster – a lot of consonants put together. The ‘s’ sound: for that, you bring the tongue up for the S, then the T – so you hold the air abruptly, that’s the T, all right? It’s not ‘sT’, you don’t have to hear the pop of the T, you’re just holding or stopping the S abruptly.
Now, the tongue is up there for the held T, and then you pull the tongue in for the R: ‘str’, ‘str’. All right? And then you round your lips a little bit, and you have that nice, strong tension of the R sound: ‘str-‘. Then you have time to open your mouth for the E as in “red” – ‘stre-‘, ‘stre-‘.
And now we start over with another consonant cluster: we have the NG consonant sound. And then you shift to the TH sound. Now, the NG consonant sound is an N that is pronounced in the back of the mouth. What do I mean? To make an N sound, you bring the tongue up, you block the air in the mouth, and then the air comes out through the nose. ‘ng’, right? An NG consonant sound is where you raise the tongue in the back, all right, you block the air in the mouth, but with the back of the tongue, the air still comes out through the nose.
Then you bring the tongue up for the TH. Now, in between the NG and the TH there is a very soft K sound. Listen: ‘stre-ng-k-th’. Which allows you some time to prepare before you bring the tongue out for the TH. Listen again: ‘stre-ng-k-th’. ‘stre(ng)kth’, ‘stre(ng)kth’.
Now, there is another way to pronounce this word, that is a little easier. Where instead of bringing the tongue up in the back for the NG, you just bring it up for an N: ‘stre-n-th’, ‘stre-n-th’. Now here, because the N appears just before a TH sound, then you can place the N on the teeth, preparing for the TH sound – ‘stre-n-‘, and then you are just releasing the tongue for the TH – ‘stre-n-th’. Listen to the two: ‘ stre-ng-k-th’ and ‘stre-n-th’. Choose whatever works for you.
One more thing. You may hear people pronouncing the STR consonant cluster with a SH sound. For example, ‘shtrength’. It happens often when there is the STR consonant cluster, like ” street”, “strange”, “stripes”. Okay? That’s also totally fine. You choose whatever works for you, these are both okay. I personally prefer the STR pronunciation – ‘stre(ng)kth’. It’s a little cleaner and easier for me, but do whatever works for you. ‘stre(ng)kth’, ‘strenth’, or ‘shtrength’. Okay? Good.
Now, let’s talk about the word “length”, all right. This one is a little easier. The ending is exactly the same, but you begin with an L sound. Then the ‘e’ as in “red”: drop your jaw, relax your tongue. ‘le-‘, ‘length’. strength – length. All right, that’s it. I hope this was helpful.
So practice this word over and over until you feel really comfortable with it. That’s the thing about words with many, many consonants. You just have to kinda like know where your tongue is going and for what consonant, and then it’s a lot easier.
See you next week!