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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Taylor Swift "Calm Down" (Learn English)

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It's finally here. Today, we're learning English with song. That is Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down'.

Calm down. A phrasal verb. In this video, there's a lot of fun stuff happening with language,

a fun play on words, and of course, we'll also do an in-depth study of the pronunciation.

Let's get started.

You are somebody that I don't know.

So one of the reasons why i've sometimes hesitated to use music

to teach English is that when we sing, we sometimes do things differently.

And her opening line is a great example.

She stresses: You are somebody-- She stresses the last syllable

and that is not how we stress that in spoken English.

You're somebody.

You're somebody that I don't know. Is what we'd say.

You're somebody. So we would very likely make this a contraction when speaking, but she doesn't, she says:

you are, and then she stresses the final syllable.

So just know that in spoken English, it's not somebody, but it's somebody, stress on some.

Somebody. I'll put that in parenthesis.

Because if you're wanting to know how to sing it like her,

then you'll definitely want to be stressing that last syllable.

You are somebody--

You are somebody--

You are somebody that I don't know.

But the rest of the sentence is exactly like it would be in spoken English.

That I don't know. That I, that I. That I-- linking with a flap, so it's not that, it's not a true T, but it's a flap.

That I, that I, that I. That links right into the AI as in buy diphthong for the letter I. That I, that I, that I.

And then 'don't know'. With N apostrophe T contractions, there are several different ways

that we can pronounce them. One of them is by totally dropping the T, and that's what she does.

So we have an ending N, a beginning N, the K is silent of course,

and she links them together with a single N and that is a common pronunciation.

Don't know, don't know, don't know.

Don't know, don't know, don't know.

So in both 'don't' and 'know', there's an OH diphthong.

That can change. Don't can be reduced to something more like the UH as in butter, or the schwa.

But it also doesn't have to be, she doesn't do it: don't know, don't know, do oh oh, know oh oh.

Both the OH diphthong.

Don't know, don't know, don't know.

But you're taking shots at me like it's Patron.

But you're taking-- Okay so many times in singing, ING words get turned into IN words.

So that means they go from the IH vowel plus NG, which actually sounds like the EE vowel plus NG,

to the IH vowel, N. Takin' Takin' Takin'.

So that happens a lot in music, and we can write it with this apostrophe symbol, instead of the G.

Takin' Takin'.

But you're taking--

But you're taking--

But you're taking--

Let's look at the first two words. She does a reduction here. What are you hearing?

But you-- But you-- But you--

But you-- But you-- But you--

The T plus Y this can get turned into a CH and that happens.

If I was going to pronounce it more clearly, I would say: But you're-- But you're-- ch ch ch--

You can definitely hear that CH.

But actually she's taking the word,

the contraction 'you're' which can be reduced to yer and she's actually dropping the R sounds completely.

But you-- But you-- But you--

I hear that just as the schwa. But you-- But you-- But you-- I would even write the first syllable 'but' with the schwa.

Buh, buh, But you-- But you-- But you-- So T and Y combined to make a CH

and both vowels there are a schwa, it's said really quickly, not too clearly,

definitely doesn't sound like 'but your',

but that's not how we would say it in spoken English either, we use reductions all the time.

But you-- But you-- But you--

I think it's not very common to drop the R sound in spoken English, I would definitely say,

But you're-- ur ur ur ur.

And I would make more of an R sound in speaking,

but R do get dropped in some English, and that's what's happening here.

But you-- But you-- But you're taking--

But you're taking--

But you're taking--

But you're taking--

So 'but you're' reduced, less clear, take, we have more stress there, that's a true T.

The T at the beginning of a stressed syllable is always a true T, unless it's part of the TR cluster,

then it might be a CHR sound. Train-- but for just a plain T, tay-- taken, taken, it is that true T sound.

Taking-- taking-- taking--

Notice that's the first true T sound that we've had in this sentence, and there are three T's before it.

There's a T sound in 'that' think it turns into a flap T, there's a T sound in 'don't', that gets dropped,

and there's a T sound in 'but' that combines with the Y to turn it into a CH.

We're talking a lot about T pronunciations. If all of these terms, flap T, stop T, are new to you,

check out the video playlists that I have on T pronunciations,

you can click here or in the video description.

But you're taking shots at me like it's Patron.

Our other stressed syllables here: but you're taking shots at me like its patron.

Both of those have a little bit of a stressed feeling.

But you're taking shots at me like it's Patron.

But you're taking shots at me like it's Patron.

But you're taking shots at me like it's Patron.

'Shots' and 'at' less stressed, and this ING or IN ending always unstressed

in spoken English, and it's unstressed here in the song too.

What about the word 'at'?

Shots at me-- shots at me-- shots at me--

Stop T: shots at me-- at at at me, at me. It's not: at me-- it's not released, that would be a true T.

T is usually not a true T.

If you take all of the times, you'd see the T sound in a dictionary,

less than half of the time is it pronounced that way, it's either a stop T or a flap T or maybe it's dropped

or maybe gets turned into a CH.

I don't think she reduces the vowel here, I do think it's: at, at, at me, at me, at me.

At me-- at me-- at me--

Also let's talk about the word 'shots' quickly, we have the letter O. Don't let that fool you.

It's the AH as in father vowel. Sho-- shots, shots. No lip rounding. A little bit of jaw drop. Shots. Shots at me.

Shots at me. Shots at me. Shots at me like it's patrón.

Patrón, patrón.

Okay so did you notice the TR there? It was not tttron, but it's chch chron.

That's really common with the TR cluster, it gets turned into a CHR. Patrón. Patrón.

Now, in spoken English there wouldn't be stress on the first syllable, it would just be: patrón, patrón.

We would say that with the schwa.

Stress on the second syllable.

Patrón. Patrón. Patrón.

But she says: patrón. Patrón. Patrón. She does more of a stress on both syllables.

Patrón. Patrón.

Shots at me like it's patrón.

What does this mean? What does it mean to take shots?

There are two meanings and she's using that as a play on words here.

To 'take a shot' at somebody means to criticize them, to verbally attack them,

it can be to make fun of them, sort of in a belittling way. So that's when you take a shot at somebody.

If you take a shot at something, then the meaning is very different.

To take a shot at something means to try something.

For example, i've never made this kind of video before where I use

a song to teach English, but I'm gonna take a shot at it. I'm going to try it. Now another meaning for 'take shots'

and this is where Patrón comes in, means to take a shot glass size of alcohol and drink it all at once.

So it's a little play on words there, talking about you're taking shots at me, at you're criticizing me,

but then to turn it into like its Patrón,

as if it's a Saturday night, you're partying, you're out, and you're taking shots like crazy.

But you're taking shots at me like it's Patron and I'm just like damn.

And I'm just like damn.

The word 'and' reduced, she drops the D, that's true in spoken English we almost never say that D.

The vowel is reduced, it's not aa and, but it sounds a lot more like: an, an I'm just, an I'm just,

an I'm just like damn.

And I'm just like damn.

And I'm just like damn.

And I'm just like damn.

Okay here, we have another T,

now the T in 'just' is dropped pretty much every time it's followed by a word that begins with a consonant.

So when the T comes between two consonants, it's really common to drop it.

This is true of spoken English. And I'm just like. And I'm just like. And it's true of the song as well.

So she drops the T sound, links the S directly into the L.

And I'm just like.

And I'm just like.

And I'm just like.

And I'm just like damn.

And I'm just like damn.

Okay, you're not really hearing a K sound

fully either that's because it's a stop consonant, and it's not released.

It's also common in spoken English to drop the released endings of stop consonants.

It's especially true of T, but it also happens with K,

especially when the next word begins with a consonant as it does here.

And I'm just like damn.

So what is she doing with that K? She does lift her tongue in the back, it does stop the air,

but then she doesn't release it. I'm just like. I'm just like.

Instead of releasing that sound, she goes right on to the next sound, which is the D.

And I'm just like damn.

And I'm just like damn.

And I'm just like damn.

Damn. The N and damn is silent, always is, spoken English, sung English.

If you look this word up in the dictionary, you'll see that the pronunciation is the D consonant,

the AH and the M consonant.

However, when AH is followed by M, also when it's followed by N, the sound changes.

If it didn't change, it would sound like this: dd-- ah-- mm-- dam, dam. But that's not what it is, it's: damn.

That's how we say it: damn.

Damn.

And so that AH vowel is a little bit more relaxed, and it shifts into an UH as in butter sound, on the way to the M.

So the back of the tongue relaxes.

The tongue lifts for the AH vowel, and then it relaxes before the M.

Daa-- daa-- damn.

Otherwise, damn, damn, damn.

That's not gonna sound very American. Damn.

Bringing that tongue relaxation in the back in will make it sound American. Damn.

Damn. Damn. Damn, It's 7 AM.

It's seven.

So let me write out the word 'seven'. Notice that we have a word that ends in an S sound, it's se--

And a word that begins with an S sound, we do link those, single S sound, true in spoken English too.

It's seven, it's seven, it's seven.

It's seven, it's seven, it's seven AM.

It's seven AM. So she puts stress on se-- which is the stressed syllable of 'seven'

and then on the last word M, AM. In conversational English, we probably wouldn't stress it that way.

We would say something more like: it's seven AM. It's seven AM.

So it has a little bit of stress in the phrase AM, it is the stressed word,

now I would stress it like that if I was maybe frustrated that I had gotten woken up early: It's seven AM.

If I really wanted to bring stress at the time then I would do it that way.

But in more normal conversational English, it would simply be: It's seven AM.

It's seven AM.

It's seven AM.

It's seven AM.

Say it in the street, that's a knock-out.

Say it in the street--

Say and Street, our two content words there, those are the words that would be stressed in spoken English,

and those are the words that she stresses.

Say it in the street.

Say it in the street--

Say it in the street--

Say it in the street--

She does a stop T in 'it'. Say it in, say it in, say it. It's not: say it, say it in, say it in. But it's a stop.

In spoken English, it would be really common to make that a flap. Say it in the, say it in the, say it in the.

We often make a T a flap T when it comes between two vowel sounds, but sometimes, we make a stop T.

That's what she did. Say it. Say it in the. Say it in the. It, in, and the, are all a little bit quieter,

they don't have as much volume to them.

Say it in the street.

Say it in the street--

Say it in the street--

Say it in the street--

The word 'Street' we have two t's, the second T is a stop T,

that's very common when it's at the end of a sentence, when there's a little break in speech,

which is what happens here, it's the end of the line.

Street. Street. Street.

Street. Street.

Now, the middle T, how is that pronounced?

Street. Street. Street.

It's sort of like a really soft D. Street. Street. Street. So it's not a CH, which sometimes happens.

Street.

You'll definitely hear that. It's also not a true T. Street. Street.

But it's sort of more like a soft D. Street. Street. Street.

Street. Street. Street. That's a knock-out.

So the next four words,

they're all on the same pitch, but one definitely feels more stressed, and that's the word 'knock'.

That's a knock-out.

And she does that stress with volume.

That's a kno-- knock--

That's a knock-out.

That's a knock-out.

That's a knock-out.

So when I'm talking about spoken English with my students, I'm often talking about a change in pitch,

but that's not the only thing that brings about a stress feeling, it's also length and then things like volume.

And all of these words linked together smoothly. That's a knock, that's a knock--

The letter A is the schwa here, uh. That's a, that's a, that's a. And it links these words together.

That's a kn-- that's a kno-- that's a knock-out.

That's a knock-out.

That's a knock-out.

That's a knock-out.

Now here, the ending K sound, she does release it right into the diphthong,

so when a stop consonant is followed by a vowel or diphthong,

then we do usually release it, linking it into the next word: ckout-- ckout-- knock-out.

Knock-out.

Knock-out. Knock-out. Knock-out.

How is this T pronounced?

Knock-out.

Knock-out.

Knock-out.

It's a stop T.

If you feel like I don't hear it at all,

that makes sense. A stop T is when the air stops more abruptly, but it's not released.

So it's different from a drop T, in that knockout, out, out, the word stops more abruptly.

If it was totally dropped, it would probably sound more like 'ow' but it's: out, out.

That abrupt stop is the stop consonant.

To our American ears, it sounds like a T, even though if you're waiting to hear the tt release,

you might not hear it at all, and it might feel like a dropped T to you.

But try to think of it as a stop T. Try to think of that abrupt stop as being a sound in and of itself.

Knock-out.

Knock-out.

Knock-out.

What does this phrase mean? So if you're going to take a shot at somebody, you're going to criticize them.

She's saying that if you say that on the street, you say it in public, you say it in person,

maybe you say it to the person's face, that that's a knock-out. That's something that can hurt somebody.

That's something that packs a punch, that feels real.

But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop out.

But then she goes on: if you say it in a tweet, that is if you say it online, you don't say to somebody's face,

that's a cop-out. What does cop-out mean? A cop-out is when you don't do

the thing that you should do because it's a little bit easier not to.

Right, if you really truly want to criticize somebody,

saying it to their face is the right thing to do. Engaging them in a real conversation.

Criticizing somebody online, it's a huge problem in today's culture, it's so easy

to be nasty online, and people do it way too often.

And she's saying to express criticism of people like this online is a cop-out.

But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop out.

You can get really nasty online. It's harder to be that nasty in person.

On a side note, I know a youtuber who got a grant to fly around the world

and have people read the nasty comments they put on his youtube channel in person.

And very few people agreed to meet with him and he found that when they did meet with him,

they didn't want to say what they had written.

It was so mean, it was so hurtful, they were embarrassed to say it to his face,

to look at another human and actually say it.

So I think that's an interesting illumination of what Taylor Swift is talking about here.

It's very easy to be nasty online. But we don't actually really want to be that nasty in person in general.

So let's talk about how she says the next line.

But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop out.

But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop out.

But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop out.

Let's talk about stress, first of all.

But you say it in a tweet, that's a cop out.

Those are the most stressed words. Everything links together pretty smoothly.

Let's talk about the first two words: but you-- that's not how they're pronounced. They're not: but you.

But you-- but you-- but you--

But you-- but you-- but you--

I would write that with the B and the schwa, and then again she combines the T and the Y to make a CH sound,

which we would actually write an IP with these symbols.

But you-- but you-- but you-- but you--

This would be a common way to say these two words in spoken English too.

But you said it already. But you-- but you-- but you--

But you-- but you-- but you say it--

But you say it-- but you say it-- say it--The AY diphthong of say links really smoothly into the IH vowel of 'it'.

Say it-- say it-- I found sometimes my students don't like linking vowel or diphthong sounds together

because it feels too smooth, too sloppy, definitely it happens in some English,

but it also happens in spoken English. Say it. Say it.

Say it-- say it-- say it--

We don't want a break there.

She does do another stop T in it. Say it. Say it. Say it in a-- say it in a--

And the words in and the schwa of a, say it in a, in a, in a, link together really smoothly.

Say it in a-- say it in a-- say it in a tweet--

Tweet-- tweet--

So the first T there begins a stressed syllable that is a true T.

Tweet-- tweet-- and again, a stop T, tweet-- it's not twee-- where the sound sort of falls off, that would be a Drop T,

but it's: tweet-- abrupt stop, that is the stop T, the unreleased T.

Very common in spoken English as well.

Say it in a tweet--

Say it in a tweet--

Say it in a tweet, that's a cop-out.

That's a cop-out. That's a-- that's a--

Again, the letter A is just the schwa, and it links the words together, that's a cop, that's a cop.

Just like in the word 'shot', the letter O here, it makes the AH as in father vowel.

Don't try to round your lips or make anything more closed.

Co-- cop out-- cop out--

That's a cop-out.

That's a cop-out.

That's a cop-out.

The word 'out' is the OW as in now diphthong, I feel like she doesn't do very much of a diphthong.

Ow, ow, it's more like cop-ah, ah-- it's more like just the first sound, so I'm gonna put that in parenthesis.

And then again, a stop T.

Not released, not out.

Cop-out. Cop-out. Cop-out. And I'm just like, hey--

Okay, there's a break here, so in this line, and I'm just like hey. Hey is definitely the most stress word there,

up down shape, just like in spoken English.

Hey. And I'm just like hey.

And I'm just like, hey--

And I'm just like, hey--

And I'm just like, hey--

The word 'and' again, reduced, it sounds a lot more like the word 'in' said quickly, unstressed,

and I'm just like--

Again, the T is dropped,

comes between two consonants, these words link together, there's no T sound.

And I'm just like---

And I'm just like--

And I'm just like--

And I'm just like--

And again, I don't really hear the kk, released sound of the K. Again, that's a stop.

And I'm just like--

And I'm just like--

And I'm just like "Hey, are you okay?"

Are you okay? Are you okay?

A lot of stress, up-down shape on that second syllable.

Are you okay?

Are you okay?

Are you okay?

If I were going to ask a friend if he or she was okay, my pitch would go up: are you okay?

Because it's a yes/no question. But here, she's saying it more like a statement. The pitch goes down.

Are you okay?

Hey, are you okay?

Basically she's saying if you need to go online and troll people, and be really nasty, then

maybe you're not doing that well.

Are you okay?

Are you okay?

Are you okay?

Are you okay?

Now we all know the music industry polices very heavily the use of its content online in videos like this.

Now of course, this video is for educational purposes, but will the music industry see it that way?

Will they care? I don't know.

That's why I'm going to stop here.

We haven't done the whole song yet, but this video could get taken down, and I would hate to see that happen.

So this is sort of a test. Let's see, can this video survive the music industry?

If it does, I'm absolutely going to do a follow-up video where I do the rest of this song.

So please let me know in the comments below if you like to learn this way maybe you're gonna buy a Taylor song

let me know in the comments. Maybe that will help prevent this video from getting taken down.

If there's another song you would like to see me analyze this way, then also let me know in the comments below.

If someone has already put the song that you like, then just like that comment.

That will help me find the most popular requests.

The next great video for you to watch

would be this video from my Learn English With Movies Summer series.

It's similar, we also do this speech analysis to study how the voice is used in American English.

Guys, I love teaching you English.

That's it and thanks so much for using Rachel's English.

The Description of Taylor Swift "Calm Down" (Learn English)