Diction (lat. dico - pronounce) is a clear pronunciation of words when every vowel and consonant sounds right.
Determined as the style of enunciation in speaking or singing, diction also means articulating clearly and concisely. It’s essential for speakers who want to get the audience interested in presentations: your voice is a weapon, so you should know how you sound and fix your diction to work the room.
Train your diction on a regular basis with the help of special experience, which benefits are obvious:
- They strengthen your muscles involved in speech.
- They provide you with habitual speech patterns that work for good.
When you decide on trying different diction exercises, remember the following: always start slowly, getting faster and faster while maintaining clarity.
There are different exercises for different types of sounds.
From 26 letters in the English alphabet, only five are vowels: A, E, I, O, and U. Pronounce them loudly and clearly one by one first, then try combining sounds, or change tempo and stress with articulatory precision.
Control the verticality of your pronunciation and the steadiness of your sound.
Remember: tempo, loudness, and melodies depend on how you pronounce vowel sounds, while your clarity and articulacy depend on consonants.
The following tongue twisters will help you improve vowels diction.
Fancy! That fascinating character Harry McCann married Anne Hammond.
Betty Botter bought some butter,
But she said, “This butter’s bitter.
“If I put it in my batter,
It will make my batter bitter.”
So, she bought some better butter,
Better than the bitter butter.
When she put it in her batter,
The butter made her batter better.
Snoring Norris was marrying the aria.
Bumblebees briefly buzzed beneath the bins of beans. Feeling ill or feeling well, Phil will hardly ever tell. Feeling full, Phyllis didn’t eat a bit of the beets. Treena tripped on the tree root, and really ripped her raincoat. Tins of tiny sardines filled the field. She sells slippers, sleepers, and tiny little creepers.
Lot lost his hot chocolate at the loft.
The English language has 25 consonant sounds, and the biggest problem some speakers have is blending these sounds together, which is known as assimilation.
To know if you have this problem, try recording yourself during conversation to listen to how you sound. More than three jumbled words in five minutes signal about a problem.
All consonants are divided into:
- Plosive (explosive sounds) - /p/, /t/, /k/, /b/, /d/, /g/
- Fricative (friction sounds) - /f/, /th/, /s/, /sh/, /v/
- Affricate (plosive followed by fricative) - /z/, /dz/
- Nasal (made through the nose) - /m/, /n/
- Approximant (vowel-like consonants) - /w/, /r/, /j/, /l/
- Glottal (made in the throat) - /h/
The most common mistakes are “I dunno” instead of “I don’t know”, “cancha” instead of “can’t you”, “uzshly” instead of “usually”, and “probly” instead of “probably.”
Listen to your recording, write a list of your problem phrases, and then practice saying them correctly, taking into account diction characteristics of every sound. It will help to fill your speech with a required power.
Plosive sounds like /d/, /t/, /b/, and /p/ are common enunciation problem of speakers. You need to be sure you say them so that they end with a small burst of air. Try the following tongue twisters:
Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pah
Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Paw
Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Poo
Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pee
Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pa Ta Ka Pay
Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Bah
Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Baw
Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Boo
Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Bee
Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Ba Da Ga Bay
Pronounce each consonant sound together with each vowel sound. Five times:
Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba
Bo Bo Bo Bo Bo
Bu Bu Bu Bu Bu
Bi Bi Bi Bi Bi
Be Be Be Be Be
Pronounce each consonant sound together with each vowel sound. Six times:
Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta Ta
To To To To To To
Te Te Te Te Te Te
Tu Tu Tu Tu Tu Tu
Ti Ti Ti Ti Ti Ti
Pronounce paired consonants, dividing them with each vowel sound and, therefore, creating three-sound combinations:
Bip Bep Bap Bop Bup
Dat Dot Dit Det Dut
Guk Gek Gok Gak Gik
Pronounce paired consonants, dividing them with each vowel sound, doubling them and, therefore, creating five-sound combinations:
Bbipp Bbepp Bbapp Bbopp Bbupp
Ddatt Ddott Dditt Ddett Ddutt
Ggukk Ggekk Ggokk Ggakk Ggikk
Dozens of tongue twisters exist to help you improve the diction of consonants. Try these ones:
- High roller, low roller, lower roller.
- Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
- I need a box of biscuits, a box of mixed biscuits, and a biscuit mixer.
- The Leith police dismisseth us.
- Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
- Friday’s Five Fresh Fish Specials.
- A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
- Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.
- If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
- He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.
- Twixt this and six thick thistle sticks.
Check this resource to find more twisters for every consonant sound.
One more exercise to practice your diction is to repeat speeches of people who have good enunciation.