When we speak a new language, why don’t we sound like a native?

Why, for example, do most Americans speaking French still sound American?

The answer mainly lies in where you place your tongue to say a sound.

Dog In English, for example, the D sound – as in DOG — is made by placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth (or your gum) BEHIND your front teeth. (It does not touch your teeth).

The D sound in English is a bit hard, and very clear.

Say this phrase: DOES DAVID DANCE DAILY? Place your tongue on your gum, and it probably sounds more English. Try placing it where you do in your native language, and it will probably sound “more natural” – you are placing your native pronunciation on a foreign word. That makes “an accent.”

The D-sound is made differently in different languages. It looks the same – but is spoken differently! Just ask a Norwegian or Swede how the Danish say their Ds: (very “bizarrely,” they might answer).

Native French speakers, for instance, make their “d” by placing their tongue against the back of the upper front teeth. This softens the D sound. So a French person saying DOG with his soft, French-style Ds would say it more like dUG.

Spanish speakers say the D sound the way English speakers say TH in “THE”. That’s right – their D sounds like our TH! That’s why Spanish speakers might pronounce DOG more like “thOG.”

PRACTICE YOUR ‘D’ SOUNDS with “Does David Dance Daily?”

david dancing