Learn the American accent with The Office!

Jun 5, 2020

Learn the American accent with The Office!

6/5/2020

The employees at Dunder Mifflin might have been lousy at selling paper, but they were experts at the American accent! Listen closely and take notes - this video will cover all areas of American English pronunciation. The transcript of the video is below.

 

Learn the American accent with The Office! This is an in-depth analysis of a scripted conversation from the American TV show The Office. Take notes as you watch - I'll discuss all areas of American English pronunciation and vocabulary. This is a great way to study the American accent! from u/Julie_Cunningham

(Video Transcript)

Script:

What’s wrong Michael?

 

I got gum in my hair.

 

You do.

 

This...just...stinks. Don’t touch it - please, don’t touch it!

 

You’ve got a ton of dandruff.

 

Ok. Let me be.

 

How’d you get gum in your hair?

 

I was walking in, and I noticed something shiny under Stanley’s car, and I got under to see what it was, and I messed up my hair. All for a stupid piece of tinfoil!

 

But, best case scenario, you thought it was a quarter.

 

Kill me. Right now.

 

We have peanut butter in the kitchen.

 

I don’t feel like peanut butter. Get me an ice cream sandwich!

 

Nope, not for you, it’s for your hair. And it is 9 a.m.



Analysis:

 

Hi everyone. In this video, I’ll complete an in-depth analysis of a scripted conversation from the TV show The Office

 

A great way to improve your English pronunciation and listening skills is with a sentence analysis exercise. In this video, I’ll play a short clip of a scripted conversation from the show The Office. Then I’ll complete an in-depth analysis of the pronunciation and vocabulary. Listen along and take notes as I go - I’ll be discussing all areas of American English pronunciation, from pronunciation of vowels and consonants, to syllable and word stress, linking between words, and vocabulary.

 

First, you’ll hear the conversation in its entirety, then I’ll complete the analysis.

 

First, the conversation. 

 

Now for the analysis.



What’s wrong Michael?

What’s wrong, Michael? This question has two intonation patterns, a downward intonation pattern for the first part, What’s wrong. What’s wrong? Wrong goes down at the end because the first part of the question is a WH question - questions that begin with WH words, like what, where, and why. And then she adds in a second part to the question - she says his name, Michael, as a way to check or confirm with Michael that she wants to know how he is feeling. This type of checking or confirmation question has upward intonation.

 

I got gum in my hair.

I got gum in my hair. I hear gum and hair as the words with the most stress, and gum has the most. He uses a stop T in got because the next word, gum, begins with a stop consonant the G sound. Got gum. Got gum. Then he links the m in gum to the next word, in. Gummin, gummin

 

You do.

You do. Her intonation has a rise/fall pattern on do, do. And to me, it sounds like she is confirming what Michael just said, but she’s doing so to be a little sarcastic.



This...just...stinks. Don’t touch it - please, don’t touch it!

So he says. This….just...stinks. He pauses between the words to add dramatic effect (and the character Michael is an overly dramatic character in the show). He gives each word equal stress - this...just...stinks, again, for dramatic effect. He uses a true T at the end of just. Normally, it is very common to drop the final t in just when it’s in a sentence, but here, Michael says each word individually and he adds emphasis to each word, so he uses a true T.  

 

Don’t touch it. The T in don’t is a stop T because the next word is touch, and that begins with a stop consonant. He uses a stop T in it - this is the speaker’s choice to use a stop T or a true T at the end of a sentence.

 

In the next part of the sentence - please don’t touch it - he uses a stop T in don’t but a true T in it. Don’t touch it. Probably for emphasis. He could have used a Stop T in it - again, this is the speaker's choice which type of T to use when it comes at the end of a sentence.

 

You’ve got a ton of dandruff.

You’ve got a ton of dandruff. I hear TON and DANdruff as the words with the most stress. He says you’ve as a contraction for you have, but he says it really fast. You’ve got a, You’ve got a. And he uses a flap T to link got and uh, and he reduces a to the schwa, uh, gotta, gotta.

 

Ok. Let me be.

He uses a stop T in let, let me, let me. And his intonation goes down on be, and the words let me have the most stress. 

 

How’d you get gum in your hair?

This question is said really quickly. He pronounces how’d you with a J /ʤ/ sound to link the words together, How’dzyou, how’dzyou. This is common, and it happens when a word ends in a D /d/ sound and the next word begins with a Y /j/ sound, like in you. How’dzyou

 

Then he uses a stop T in get, get gum, get gum, because gum begins with a stop consonant. He links gum, in, and your - guminyour, guminyour, so it sounds like one long word. And your is reduced to yer, another common word reduction.

 

I was walking in, and I noticed something shiny under Stanley’s car, 

Let’s talk about the stress in this part of the sentence. I hear more stress on the content words: I was WALKING in and I NOTICED somethingSHINY under STANLEY’s CAR. 

 

He uses the schwa in was, wuz, wuz. I wuz walking.  And he reduces and to n, enni, enni. I wuz walking in n I. 

 

and I got under to see what it was, and I messed up my hair. 

Let’s talk about the stress in this part of the sentence. I hear and i GOT UNDER to SEE what it WAS and i MESSED UP my HAIR as the stress. So again he’s stressing the content words and unstressing the function words.

 

He reduces and to n and uses a flap T in got. Godunder, godunder. He also reduces the OO /u/ vowel in to to the schwa, uh. And he uses a flap T here as well, duh see,  duh see, got under duh see. I hear another flap T in what and a stop T in it, whatduit was, whadit was. And he drops the d in and, and pronounces it like an, which is another common way to reduce the word and.

 

All for a stupid piece of tinfoil!

I hear, stupid and tinfoil as having the most stress. For reduces to fer, a common word reduction in American English. And he reduces the word a to the schwa, uh, and of to just the schwa uh and a really quick V /v/ sound, uhv, uhv piece-uhv

 

But, best case scenario, you thought it was a quarter.

For the stress, I hear, BUT best case SCENARIO, YOU thought it was a QUARTER.  He says the word but for a longer amount of time - BUUUT - this is how he chooses to stress this word, even though the pitch of his voice didn’t go any higher. But you can hear how the pitch of his voice does go up on scenario, you, and quarter.

 

He drops the T in best, besscase, besscase. This is common when there are three consonants in a row - ST in best and the K sound in case - the middle consonant is often dropped. 

 

He uses a flap T to link thought and it, thoughdit, thoughtit. And was is reduced to wuz, with the schwa, and a is also reduced to the schwa, uh.

 

Kill me. Right now.

I hear a Stop T in right

 

We have peanut butter in the kitchen.

I hear, we have PEANUT BUTTER in the KITCHEN as the stressed words - again the content words are stressed most.

 

I don’t feel like peanut butter. 

I hear a stop T in don’t. Don’t feel, don’t feel. And he also doesn’t release the K in like, like peanut butter, like peanut butter. It’s not like-uh peanut butter. And another stop T in peanut. Peanut butter. And the T in butter is the flap T. Budder.

 

Get me an ice cream sandwich!

He uses a stop T in get, get me, get me. He reduces an to just n, which is a common reduction. The D in sandwich is not pronounced, it’s sanwich, sanwich. Another 3 consonants rule, in which the middle consonant is dropped.

 

Nope, not for you, it’s for your hair. And it is 9 a.m.

He doesn’t release the P in nope, nope not, nope not. And another stop T in not, and for is reduced to fer, not fer you

 

He drops the vowel in it’s and says it like ts, ts, ts fer yer, those words are also reduced. Ts fer yer. Ts fer yer hair. And he uses a flap T to connect it and is. Id is.

 

Thanks so much for watching! And let me know how I can help you with your American English pronunciation!