How to Pronounce Or, War, East, and Yeast

Oct 26, 2020

How to Pronounce Or, War, East, and Yeast

10/26/2020

"Or/war" and "east/yeast" sound so similar - and they look similar when someone pronounces them. How can you tell the difference within these word pairs? There is one key difference between these words, and it happens so quickly in conversational speech that you might miss it. Perfect your American accent AND your listening skills with this video!

(Video Transcript)

 

Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video you’ll learn how to pronounce the words or, war, east, and yeast.



This video is from another request by one of my viewers, and I thought it was a great idea because these words sound so similar, and they also look similar when someone pronounces them. So thank you for this request!

 

Similarities and differences

Let’s first talk about the similarities between these word pairs. All of these words are one syllable. Or and war share the OR R-colored vowel, and east and yeast share the EE vowel and the ST consonant cluster ending. 

 

Now let’s talk about what is different about these word pairs. The beginning of each word is different. Or and war differ by one sound: the initial W consonant in war. East and yeast also differ by one sound: the Y consonant in yeast

 

Or vs. war

I’m going to say the first word pair, and I want you to pay attention to the beginning of each word. Listen to how or sounds different from war.

 

Or

 

War

 

Or

 

War

 

Or

 

War



Or begins with a vowel sound. When a word begins with a vowel sound, the vowel is usually initiated with a glottal stop.

 

Or 

 

Or 

 

Or 

 

The vocal cords are closed at the beginning of the vowel, then they open to release the voicing for that sound. I’ll exaggerate the glottal stop this time.

 

Or

 

Or

 

Or

 

But the word war begins with the W consonant, and the vocal cords are never fully closed. Listen to the word war, and focus on the beginning sound.

 

War

 

War

 

War

 

The word or has much more abrupt beginning. 

 

Or

 

War has a smoother beginning. 

 

War

 

And you can hear the low vibration of the airflow as it comes through the lips, which are in a tight circle. 

 

WWW

 

WWW

 

WWW



War



Or

 

Or

 

Or



East vs. yeast

The same is true for the word pair east and yeast. Listen for the glottal stop at the beginning of east.

 

East

 

East

 

East



Now listen for the smooth beginning of the word yeast, and the low vibration of the airflow as it moves over the tongue. 

 

Yeast

 

Yeast

 

Yeast




East

 

East

 

East



Let’s look at both word pairs up close and in slow motion.

 

Or and war: Up close and in slow motion

First the word or. Now the word war

 

And now side by side. On the left is the word or, and on the right is the word war. Notice the difference in lip rounding. The lips are in a much tighter circle for the initial W consonant in the word war compared to the initial AW consonant in the word or.

 

East and yeast: Up close and in slow motion

And now the word pair east and yeast. First the word east. Now the word yeast.

 

And now side by side. On the left is the word east, and on the right is the word yeast. This word pair looks much more alike than or and war, but if you look closely you’ll notice that the jaw is slightly more closed for the initial Y consonant in the word yeast. The tongue also has slightly more tension for the initial Y consonant in yeast, but you can’t see that in these pictures.




I hope this video helped you to learn how to pronounce these tricky words in American English. Thanks so much for watching, and let me know how I can help you perfect your American accent!