Hello Students!

Together we are going to breakdown the four different English pronunciations of the word ‘garage’.

The way you pronounce this word says something about you in terms of your social class. You probably didn’t know that.

So based on your pronunciation of this word we’re going to find out whether you are posh, if you’re at the top of the social scale, or whether you are one of the common people, if your speech is like that of the common man.

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Today’s Clear Accent Lesson: ‘garage’

In English language, there are four different ways that you can pronounce the word ‘garage’. Each pronunciation will reveal whether you’re posh, common, somewhere in the middle, or perhaps even American.

Once we’ve discovered the four pronunciations, we’re going to learn similar words that end with this spelling pattern.

Pronunciation 1: garage is /ˈgær.ɑːʒ/

[ /ˈgær.ɑːʒ/ ]

The last sound in here is a very French sounding phoneme /ʒ/. Note that it sounds slightly different at the end of ‘garage’ because it is positioned at the end of the word where it is devoiced. This means it doesn’t sound as ‘strong’.

[ /ʒ/ ]

A quick demonstration of how to pronounce it. Make a “dah” sound, and that spot where your tongue touches, leave a gap and let the air travel through as your vocal cords vibrate. /ʒ/ – It’s not a sound made with your tongue touching, but it’s in a similar place. You’ve got to leave a gap.

Now, if you pronounce the word like that, what social class does it reveal about you?

This is the posh pronunciation of the word.

Pronunciation 2: garage is /ˈgær.ɑːʤ/

[ /ˈgær.ɑːʤ/ ]

Hopefully you can pick up the sound difference.  If we study the IPA /ˈgær.ɑːʤ/, it’s very similar to the IPA in pronunciation one. The difference is the last phoneme; /ˈgær.ɑːʤ/

In this case there is a /ʤ/ like in my name, ‘Jade’ /ˈʤeɪd/.

[ /ʤ/ ]

But because it’s at the end of the word in this case, it’s not as strong as it sounds at the beginning because it is devoiced. If you have a look at the symbols you will notice it is made up of two symbols.

So it begins pretty much like a /d/, and it ends like a /ʒ/.

[ /d/ ] [ /ʒ/ ]

Try to think of it as a combination of the two sounds.

[ /ɑːʤ/ ]

The social class of pronouncing this word in this manner, I would say places you somewhere in the middle.

Pronunciation 3: garage is /ˈgær.ɪʤ/

[ /ˈgær.ɪʤ/ ]

For the third pronunciation /ˈgær.ɪʤ/ we’re getting a little bit different now, because we’ve got a different vowel here /ˈgær.ɪʤ/. The last sound in the word is /ɪʤ/

This one is the pronunciation of the common folk, the everyday people.

Pronunciation 4: garage /gəˈrɑːʒ/

[ /gəˈrɑːʒ/ ]

Our last pronunciation is the American pronunciation, although you’ll probably find some British people pronounce it that way, because we are influenced by American media.

But we know as a general rule that this is an American pronunciation, because they tend to put the stress on the second syllable. Whereas the British pronunciations put the stress on the first syllable.

Words ending in ‘”A-G-E” with /ɑːʒ/ pronunciation

Let’s look at the spelling patterns and the pronunciation patterns for words ending in “A-G-E” pronounced /ɑːʒ/. This would be like the posh pronunciation of the word garage /ˈgær.ɑːʒ/.

massage (n) – where you go when your body is aching.

mirage (n) – something that you see in the desert. You think you see water there, but it’s not really there.

camouflage (n) – what people in the army wear to hide from the enemy.

sabotage (n) – what you do to an enemy. So you damage their equipment.

espionage (n) – the activity of spying.

Let’s bring it together, so it sticks in your mind a bit. The last three have a military association, as do many French words that have entered English.

Words ending in ‘”A-G-E” with /ɪʤ/ pronunciation

This time, “A-G-E” is pronounced /ɪʤ/. This is weird. We don’t expect words spelt “A-G-E” to have a /ɪʤ/sound. My students commonly mispronounce these words.

message (n) – Send a text message.

village (n) –  A sleepy village.

garbage (n)- The garbage bin is in the garden.

average (n)- I live on an average street.

damage (n) – There is damage caused to my car in the garage.

Words ending in ‘”A-G-E” with /eɪʤ/pronunciation

The last pronunciation is “A-G-E,” with a /ʤ/ sound and it’s a bit different. This is a good way to show you that the same spelling patterns isn’t always going to be pronounced in the same way. Look at these short words for example;

age (n)

page (n)

rage (n)

stage (n)

gauge (n)

cage (n)

All of them end in a /ʤ/ sound.

There’s one tricky word on here; ‘gauge’. This is a kind of measuring device, such as a fuel gauge in a car, which will tell you how much petrol you have got left.

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Jade Joddle is a speech and voice teacher for high-level professionals. She teaches her non-native speaker clients to Speak Well so that they thrive and succeed.

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