Episode Transcript

Party vs Potty

Hey, it’s Hadar and this is the Accent’s Way. Today, we’re gonna talk about the difference between ‘Party’ as in ‘Let’s party’ and ‘Potty’ as in ‘Potty training’.

Now, of course, the obvious difference is the fact that one has an ‘r’ – ‘Party’, and the other doesn’t: ‘Potty’. Aside from that, everything else is absolutely the same in American English. ‘Potty’ – ‘Party’. But it’s a little deeper. And instead of just talking about the difference between those two words, I want to talk about the ‘r’ as in car vowel, and what happens when it appears before other consonants, and why it is so tricky.

So, let’s begin with the vowel, explaining the vowel. The vowel in the word ‘Party’ is the same vowel as in the word ‘car’, ‘part’, ‘hard’, and ‘starting’. Now, it’s not a pure ‘aa’ as in father, because you don’t say ‘caar’ ‘aa’, ‘aa’ as in father. ‘car’. When the ‘r’ appears after the vowel, you want to round your lips a bit more. ‘car’, ‘car’. Right? Because you don’t say ‘father’, but you do want to say something like ‘car’. You do want to use your lips more when you pronounce the vowel ‘aa’ before the ‘r’ sound. So let’s practice it in a few words.

‘car’. ‘part’. ‘start’. Notice it has two parts: the vowel and then the ‘r’. And also, notice that the vowel at the beginning is very clean and clear. So I’m not doing something like this, right? Kind of like anticipating the ‘r’ before the ‘r’ arrives.

This sound is very distinct in the sense of the vowel comes first, and then, only at the end, there is the ‘r’. ‘car’. ‘star’. Do not raise your tongue before you’re done pronouncing the vowel. The vowel itself is the ‘aa’ as in father. So the tongue drops down, the back of the tongue pushes down a bit, the mouth opens. And in this case, because of the ‘r’, the lips round a bit: ‘ca…’, ‘car’.

And then once you pronounce the vowel, let’s say 80% of the sound, then the last 20% would be the ‘r’: ‘car’. It’s like going down the steps, right? ‘ca…r’. You can also hear it in the intonation. ‘car’. So you hear this change: ‘fa…r’, ‘sta…r’, ‘pa…rty’.

Why is it so difficult in the word ‘party’ and it’s not that difficult in the word ‘car’? The reason is that you have a consonant right after. ‘Party’. So your tongue is kind of like preparing for that ‘t/d’ sound, it’s a flap ‘t’. So it actually sounds like a ‘d’ sound: ‘party’. I’m not saying ‘parTy’. So, it’s a ‘d’ sound, and the tongue wants to go up for the ‘r’, but it also wants to prepare for the ‘t/d’, right, the flap ‘t’.

So the tongue is immediately, as it goes up, is immediately going for the flap ‘t’. Okay? Because your tongue is not that trained in doing all these tricky transitions. You don’t have it in your native tongue. So, your tongue wants to go up for the ‘r’ but it doesn’t hit the right place, and it immediately goes for the flap ‘t’. ‘pah-dee’, right? And then we get something like that: ‘potty’.

Now look, even if you drop the ‘r’, it’s not a big deal because, you know, there are some dialects in the US alone that drop the ‘r’ before a consonant, and may say ‘pah-dee’ instead of ‘party’. But if you want to be clear and you want to master it for your own benefit, then here’s what you should do.

First of all, start by saying the word ‘par’, ‘par’. Here the ‘r’ is at the end and it’s a little easier for a non-native speaker to hit the right position. You want to pronounce the ‘aa’ as in father and then bring the back of the tongue until the sides of the tongue touch the insides of the upper teeth. ‘par’, ‘…r’, ‘…r’ , ‘…r’.

So the sides of the tongue touch the insides of the upper teeth, the tip of the tongue can be either up or down. This part is the most important part. ‘par’, ‘…r’. You do not want to bring the tip of the tongue and pull it all the way back until your tongue doesn’t touch anything anymore: ‘pa…’.

And then it’s this hollow, strange sound that it’s not an ‘r’, it’s not a ‘w’, it’s not anything. ‘pa…’, right? You’ve got to make sure that there is contact between the sides of the tongue and the insides of your teeth: ‘par’, ‘r’. The tongue curls in the back and creates this tense sound and that’s the ‘r’: ‘par’.

The tip of the tongue, as I said, should go up, but it can also remain down. ‘r’, ‘r’. It sounds the same: ‘r’ – ‘r’. ‘par’. The lips round just a bit. They’re not as rounded as they are for the ‘r’ at the beginning of a word: ‘red’, ‘car’. But you do want to round them a bit, so it doesn’t sound like ‘car’, ‘part’, ‘hard’.

My tongue is doing the same thing, but the sound is not as pull together as it is when you round the lips. ‘par’ – ‘par’. ‘hard’, ‘dark’. We don’t want that. ‘part’, ‘dark’, ‘hard’, ‘har..’, ‘r’, ‘r’, right? It closes the sound in a way.

Now, let’s go back to ‘party’. What happens here is that the tongue doesn’t have enough time for the ‘r’, so it goes immediately for the flap ‘t’: ‘part…’, ‘party’. So, you want to insist on hitting that position. ‘parrrrr’, ‘parrrrr’, ‘parrrrr-dee’. So hold out the ‘r’, make sure that you’re actually pronouncing the ‘r’, and then move on to the flap ‘t’: ‘party’. Let’s divide it into three: ‘paa/rr/dee’.

Of course, I’m not expecting you to speak like that, this is just how you practice: ‘paa/rr/dee’. ‘party’. ‘party’. So you bring the tongue back for the ‘r’, and then you bring it forward for the flap ‘t’. For the flap ‘t’, the tip of the tongue touches the upper palate slightly. Like giving it a high-five. ‘party’. ‘party’. Let’s go ‘party’.

And if it still comes out as let’s go ‘pah-dee’, then again, hold out the ‘r’: Let’s go ‘party’. And say it slowly ten, twenty, thirty, fifty times a day, until your tongue gets used to going through the ‘r’ sound and then going into the flap ‘t’. ‘party’ – ‘potty’. ‘harder’, ‘harder’.

Now, it’s tricky, I know, because you have that flap ‘t’ sound right after, so you pull the tongue back for the ‘r’ and then the tongue needs to be touching the upper palate really lightly for that ‘d’ sound. Because it’s not ‘harDer’ ‘Der’, it’s ‘harder’ ‘der’. Yes like a Spanish ‘r’ or a Russian ‘r’ or Arabic ‘r’ if you think about it like a very light ‘r’ sound: ‘harder’, ‘party’, ‘harder’.

Let’s look at a few other pairs. ‘harder’, ‘harder’. If you skip the ‘r’ here, it’s going to sound like ‘hotter’, ‘hotter’. And yes, one is with the ‘t’, one is with the ‘d’, but as you know, the ‘d’ in the middle of the word between two vowels, and the ‘t’ between two vowels in the middle of the word when it’s unstressed, sound exactly the same.

So, ‘harder’ without the ‘r’ will sound like ‘hotter’. ‘harder’. So, hold it out, hold out the ‘r’: hard, ‘harrrrrr-d’r’, ‘harder’, ‘harder’. ‘hotter’ – ‘harder’. ‘potty’ – ‘party’. ‘farther’, ‘farther’. If you skip the ‘r’ here – ‘father’, ‘father’. ‘farther’: notice that my lips are a little more rounded for the ‘aa’ sound. ‘far…’, definitely for the ‘r’: ‘farther’. Three steps: ‘faa/rr/ther’. Don’t skip that middle part. ‘farther’.

And also, don’t bring that middle part, the ‘r’ sound, in too soon. So it’s not ‘further’, because then it’s gonna sound like ‘further’. I know it’s confusing, but don’t freak out! Wait. Okay, let’s explain it. ‘further’ has no vowel between the ‘f’ and the ‘r’. ‘further’. ‘furthermore’. Right? ‘further’.

In the word ‘farther’ the ‘a’ sound is there, so you’ve got to make sure that you pronounce it fully: ‘faa’, ‘faa’. And then you bring the tongue up for the ‘r’, because you don’t want to skip the ‘r’ because then it’s gonna sound like ‘father’ ‘father’. ‘farther’ – ‘further’. ‘further’ – ‘farther’ – ‘father’.

You can do it. Don’t worry, okay? It’s all a matter of practice because these are just muscles, muscle work. It’s not that complicated if you know what you need to do, and you do it enough times until you make it your own. Okay?

So whenever you struggle with something or whenever you feel like you just can’t make it, start over, understand what the tongue is doing, use a mirror, use your phone camera, use your fingers to feel if your tongue is hitting the right place or not. Use other videos to learn how to pronounce the ‘r’, how to pronounce the ‘aa’ as in ‘father’. And then, put it all together and do it over and over and over again, until you find that exact placement and exact pronunciation.

And again, until you make it a habit. You developed a muscle memory, and you don’t have to think about it anymore. It’s just gonna be there for you. Okay? And then we can all just ‘party’.

That’s it. Thank you so much for watching. Please share this video with your friends if you liked it. And let me know in the comments below what are the things that you are going to do, starting from today, to improve your pronunciation? What are the things that you can do on a daily basis, that will help you get the results that you want? I can’t wait to hear it.

Have a wonderful week. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.