More about repeated words


A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about deaccentuation of repeated words in English  (your name, your REGNAL name). The idea is basically that when you repeat a word, you don’t stress it (for a very thorough treatment of this subject go to the section called Sentence Stress on this website)

This morning I found another wonderful example which I’ll share with you too:

sound_loud_speaker Gyllenhaal started acting as a teenager. Her mother is a screenwriter and producer, her father a director. Her brother is actor JAKE Gyllenhaal (Terry Gross, Fresh Air).


As you can see, this feature is absolutely pervasive in English, so if you want to keep a good English rhythm, try to internalize it.




Pronunciation of Burt Reynolds

Now Burt Reynolds has died, let’s learn how to pronounce his name correctly.

This is what we normally say in Spanish:

sound_loud_speaker /bart ˈreinolds/

It might be acceptable when we are speaking Spanish, but in English we must pronounce it in this way:

sound_loud_speaker /bɜːt ˈrenəlz/


Let’s see what we’re doing wrong:


First, the name:

Spanish people usually pronounce /bart/ (as in Bart Simpson), but it’s /bɜːt/ (in the same way, the surname of actor William Hurt is not /hart/, but /hɜːt/.) To know everything about the vowel /ɜː/ click here.

As you know, the colon (:) after the vowel /ɜː/ means it’s a long sound, but since it’s followed by a voiceless consonant it becomes a little shorter because of the phenomenon known as pre fortis clipping.

I say it in the British non-rothic way –that is, without the uttering the /r/, see explanation here-, but of course Americans pronounce the /r/ as well.


Now, the surname:

The most noticeable thing is that the letter y  in the first syllable is silent, so it’s not /r/ but /re/.
Also, the second, unstressed syllable is not an /o/, as we tend to do in Spanish, but an /ə/, that is, the famous, ubiquitous schwa.

Put all the above together and your pronunciation of Burt Reynolds will be perfect!


And here you can listen to a native speaker informing about Burt Reynolds’ death on the radio (NPR):

sound_loud_speaker TV and film star Burt Reynolds died yesterday in Jupiter, Fla., from a heart attack. He was 82. Reynolds appeared in a hundred films. Many, he joked, were so bad they were shown in prisons and on airplanes because no one could leave. Reynolds began acting in the ’50s, but his career really took off when he became a regular on the TV talk show circuit in the ’70s…

Your name, your REGNAL name

In the past I’ve written extensively about the deaccentuation of repeated words in English. Today I found a very good example which I’m sharing with you.

But let’s remember the theory first. In short, it’s as follows:

When you repeat a word in English, that word is deaccented. This means that it doesn’t carry any stress, which is displaced onto the previous lexical item.

The classical example to explain this is:

My name is BOND. JAMES  Bond.

Since Bond has already been stressed, the second time you say it you don’t stress it and put the emphasis on the previous lexical item, JAMES.


I found a very good example of this phenomenon in a short excerpt from The Crown, a new TV drama (Netflix):


sound_loud_speaker Martin Charteris: Though, it would help if we could decide here and now on your name.

Queen Elizabeth II: My name?

Martin Charteris: Yes ma’am, your REGNAL name. That is the name you’ll take as queen.


If you wish to learn more about the placement of English stress within the sentence you can go to the section called Sentence Stress on this website, where you’ll find a very detailed explanation about the subject with many examples.