Break down this word syllable by syllable and sound by sound to become comfortable in speaking and pronouncing conversational English. Two challenging sounds in this word are the R-schwa and Dark L’s: ‘vulnerable’.
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In this video on American English pronunciation, we will discuss the pronunciation of the term ‘vulnerable’.
We should begin. In addition to the R, it contains two obscure L’s, which can be quite challenging. ‘Vulnerable’ is quite a difficult word, as you all have observed.
The word ‘Vulnerable’ is a four-syllable word, with the most important syllable feeling like the first one. It pops out, with the syllable stressed, so the unstressed sounds it makes are really great. Even the mumbled little sounds they make may be quieter and less clear, but they’re still vulnerable.
Your bottom lip shouldn’t vibrate against the inside of your top lip when pronounced. The top lip needs a slight lift to get out of the way. When the front top teeth touch the bottom lip here, the bottom lip should come up to make the “v” sound. The first stressed syllable starts with the consonant “v”.
The vulnerable part of the tongue, nn, moves to the roof of the mouth. Now for the N. That’s all we need for the Dark L, that deep sound. The tip can remain forward. The back part of the tongue goes back. Avoid raising the middle part of the tongue, or it will start to sound like an R. Vul-. I’m producing that sound while keeping the tongue tip down. It’s created with the back of the tongue. However, that’s not actually how the deep aspect of the Dark L is produced. Ll. When people think of L, they associate it with the tip of the tongue touching the roof of the mouth. It’s deep. So instead of UH, bu-, butter, the sound is uhl, uhl, vul-, vulnerable. A Dark L is an L that comes after a vowel or diphthong in a syllable. But it’s followed by a Dark L, so it’s not truly a pure sound. Then we have the UH sound as in BUTTER.
Ble, -ble, -ble. It’s an L, but there’s no need to elevate your tongue. That’s just an unnecessary motion. We can do without it. The deep sound indicates that it’s a Dark L, vulnerable, -ble. And another Dark L, although this one is quicker, less energetic, and less distinct because it’s not emphasized. Vulnerab-, -bb-, -ble. Now we have the B sound, where the lips do need to come together. The movement of the mouth is minimal: -nera- [5x]. Vulnera-. Now we encounter the schwa, so we simply bring the tongue back down, relax it, with the tip forward, vulnera-, vulnera-. Observe how the rest of the mouth doesn’t require much movement, -ner-, -ner-. This is for the R sound. The lips slightly expand, -ner-. First, retract the tongue, -ner-, so the tip isn’t touching anything, -ner-. The next three syllables are all unstressed, -nerable, less significant, less distinct.
Practice saying those three unstressed syllables together: -nerable. [3x]. Vulnerable. Vul-, -nerable. Vulnerable.
Now let’s observe from a close distance and at a reduced speed.
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That’s all, and thank you very much for utilizing Rachel’s English.