Watching Cartoons is a fun way to improve your English, however some cartoons are better left to be watched rather than to be imitated. The Looney Toons, created in 1930, is a classic television program starring talking cartoon animals – a few of the main cast of characters possess different types of speech impediments that add to the hilarity of the skits. In some cases speech impediments are due to biological causes, but in other cases this can happen because we are not familiar with pronouncing certain letters. This minor speech problem can be corrected through careful and repetitious practice. The following are some mispronunciation examples and corrections, with some helpful tips!
Elmer Fudd – Be very, very quiet, I’m hunting rabbits!
Elmer Fudd is a devious character and is an enemy to Bugs Bunny, he is often on the receiving end of jokes due to his plans being constantly foiled. Elmer Fudd’s catchphrase is “Be very very quiet, I’m hunting rabbits” however when he pronounces it, it sounds like “Be vewy, vewy quiet, I’m hunting for wabbits” which is the incorrect pronunciation of very and rabbits. Elmer Fudd replaces his [R’s] with [W’s] – imitating Elmer Fudd’s way of speaking may come off as unintentional baby talk or juvenile. To improve on pronouncing the /R/ sound, imagine a racecar engine revving or the sound effect that a pirate might make “arrrr”.
Technical explanation of /R/ – 1. Lips should be slightly open and rounded 2. Curl the tip of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth – but the tip of your tongue should not be touching the roof of your mouth 3. You should be able to feel the middle/back part of your tongue near the back of your mouth 4. You may also feel the sides of your tongue against your teeth
Tweety Bird – “I thought I saw a pussy cat!”
This tiny yellow canary may be one of the most adorable Looney Toons characters created, but Tweety’s most unusual mispronunciations of /TH/ and /S/ could use some improvement. What Tweety is actually saying is “I thought I saw a pussy cat!” however it sounds like “I taught I taw a putty cat”. He replaces the /TH/ sound in “thought”, with a /T/ sound, which as cute as it may seem, is an ultimately ineffective way to speak in a professional or social setting. Secondly, he continues to incorrectly use the /T/ sound when he should be using the /S/ sound in “saw” and “pussy”. Lastly he mispronounces the word “cat” by replacing the hard /C/ sound with the /T/ sound.
Technical explanation of /TH/ – Think of a snakes tongue 1. Keep the tip of your tongue rigid 2. keep the tip of your tongue under your front teeth, and make a quick sound
Technical explanation of soft /S/ – Again think of a serpent-like hiss, this /S/ sound is considered a “voiceless sound.” 1. Clench your teeth 2. Exhale air through the centre of your mouth
Technical explanation of hard /C/ – 1. The hard /C/ sound (which is different from the soft /C/ sound) starts from the back of your throat 2. The middle of your tongue should be touching the back part of the roof of your mouth
Sylvester the Cat – “Sufferin’ Succotash”
Tweety’s archenemy, and a staple stooge of the Looney Toons bunch, Sylvester the Cat speaks in a sloppy speech pattern and with a distinctive lisp, “sufferin’ succotash” is mispronounced as “Thufferin’ Thuccotash”. Instead of using the /S/ sound, Sylvester uses the /TH/ sound in “sufferin” and “succotash”. A slight lisp is a troubling speech habit to overcome but with some effort and the assistance of a professional it can be accomplished. Another concern of Sylvester’s speech is that he tends to slurs his words together, when speaking remember to speak clearly and at a moderate pace.
Technical explanation of soft /S/ – As explained previously, you want to produce a hissing-like sound for the letter /S/ by pushing air between your teeth, if you notice that you have a problem pronouncing this sound in sentences, try to speak a little bit slower and concentrate on the shape of your mouth. Lastly if you feel that you are having a lot of trouble with this sound, you can work with a professionally trained speech therapist to improve your pronunciation and gain confidence while learning to perfect your English.
Article written by: Sarah Ahmad