Does word pronunciation change when it’s in a sentence?

I’m Chinese and am learning English. When I watch video materials from US and UK, I’ve noticed a phenomenon: in British, a word may sound much different when it’s said in a sentence compared to when it’s spoken solely.

For example, when saying dangerous [ˈdeɪndʒərəs] all by itself as a single word, British English pronunciation is identical to American English. But when in a sentence, British English tend to stretch the [rə] to a longer duration, and with an ascending tone from start to finish.

This brings learners difficulties. Even if I can say each word correctly, when I say a sentence word by word, with necessary liaison of course, it still sounds “strange”. It’s not far from an American accent, but very different to what a native speaker from the United Kingdom would say. I see more such variation in intonation in British English than I hear in American English.

I wanna know:

  1. Is it true about the pronunciation variation, what’s the proper name of it, so I can research on it.
  2. Is there a pattern/rule on the variation to memorize?
  3. Is the variation the main contributor to the accent difference.

Any clue is welcome, not necessarily an answer. Links, resources, wikis, ideas, anything.

Example: in this video: around 03:05 when he says:

This is going to be dangerous.

I know words sound different in sentences than when said individually — this happens in all languages. To be more specific, what I want to know is the difference between the ways British English and American English handle this intonation change. How can I learn the British accent?


In a comment John Lawler wrote:

Of course words sound different in sentences than individually. Words link up together in speech, and there are patterns in every language about how it is done. The key word is phonology; specifically, the phenomenon of sandhi, a Sanskrit word. Much the same thing is true of Mandarin — even if I can say every word with the correct tone, when they go together in a sentence things happen to the tones (“tone sandhi”), which often makes it difficult for native speakers to understand Western Mandarin learners, and vice versa.

Source : Link , Question Author : matrix , Answer Author : tchrist

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