Steve Jobs Quote: Understanding native-like English by listening to the greatest.

Steve Jobs was such a charismatic speaker of the English language.  Let us find the 7 keys to native-like pronunciation (mainly American) in a quote by the late Steve Job's during a 2005 speech he was making at Stanford's. I hope by doing that, you will understand a little better what makes native speakers of English like Steve Jobs actually sound like native speakers. Remember to simply click on the link below each key to read and find more information about the key. So for example, if you have trouble understanding what the "schwa sound" is, click on link underneath the schwa sound section and that will take you to the schwa sound page where you should find a detailed explanation on what the schwa sound and where you can usually find it. The few sound bites you will hear from Steve jobs are quite short but they should still contain the secrets to native-like English (in this particular case, American English). Once you are done with Steve jobs' quote, I recommend that you look at Opera's and Anthony Robbins. Ok. Let's get it on.

I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did, you've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers. Steve Jobs

1-Consonants

I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did, you've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers.

In English, we do NOT always pronounce every single consonant in every word as it is pronounced individually. We change the pronunciation of many consonants depending on THE CONSONANTS AND VOWELS that either PRECEDE (come before) OR SUCCEED (come after) them. Very often the consonants that change or are deleted are those found in FUNCTIONAL words (such as pronouns, modals, auxiliaries, conjunctions, articles etc). You can learn more about these changes by reading the Word Linking section further down the page.

IPA: Unnatural Pronunciation

(Dictionary Pronunciation)
Unnatural pronunciation

IPA: Natural Pronunciation

(As spoken by Steve Jobs)
Steve jobs-Natural PronunciationMr Steve Jobs Quote

Find out more about the English Consonants...

2-Vowels

I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did, you've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers.

As with the consonants, we do NOT pronounce every vowel of every word as it is usually pronounced in the dictionary. When you look up a certain word in the dictionary, you usually hear the recorded word alone without any consideration for context or other surrounding sounds. The pronounce of the English vowels heavily depend on factors like speed, stress, pitch or intonation, feelings and attitude. We can basically make them shorter or longer, lower or louder etc. Perhaps the most common vowel-changing phenomenon that occurs in the natural English is what we call "vowel reduction" or shortening. We shorten the vowels by using a neutral sound known as "the schwa sound /ə/". Look at the following section to know more about the schwa sound.

IPA: Unnatural Pronunciation

(Dictionary Pronunciation)
Vowels unnatural pronunciation

IPA: Natural Pronunciation

(As spoken by Steve Jobs)
Steve jobs-Vowels natural pronunciationMr Steve Jobs Quote

Find out more about the English Vowels...

3-The Schwa Sound

I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did, you've got to find what you love, and that is as true for work as it is for your lovers.

As you can see in the "Unnatural Pronunciation" section, if we pronounced Mr. Jobs' quote like a robot, as if we were asking an electronic dictionary to read it, we would only have 3 schwa sounds in total. These schwa sounds are always pronounced as schwa sound regardless of speed or other sounds (except for [the]). Now, if we pronounce it naturally, we will have 12 schwa sounds, not only 3. Many vowels will be shortened and thus transform into a schwa sound. For example, the /æ/ in [that] will become a schwa sound, the /ɑː/ in [was] will also become a schwa sound, so will vowel /u:/ in [to] and vowel /æ/ in [as] etc.

IPA: Unnatural Pronunciation

(Dictionary Pronunciation)
Steve jobs-schwa sound-un

IPA: Natural Pronunciation

(As spoken by Steve Jobs)
Steve jobs-schwa sound-nMr Steve Jobs Quote

Find out more about the Schwa sound...

4-Word Linking

The text WITHOUT word linking

Steve jobs-word linking-no symbols

The text WITH word linking

Steve jobs-word linking

A-Connecting Consonant To Vowel

(1):After deleting the /t/ in [convinced] and the /ð/ in [that], Mr. Jobs connected the /s/ in [convinced] to the schwa sound in [that]. /s/ is a consonant and the schwa sound /ə/ is a vowel.
(4): After deleting the /ð/ in [that], Mr. Jobs connected the /z/ in [was] to the schwa sound /ə/ in [that].
(5): Mr. Jobs connected consonant [t], which was pronounced as a tap /t̬/, to vowel /aɪ/ in pronoun [I].
(6): Please review (5).
(9): After omitting /d/ in [and] and /ð/ in [that], Mr. Jobs connected consonant /n/ in [and] to vowel /æ/ in [that].
(10): Mr.Jobs connected consonant [t], which was pronounced as a tap /t̬/, to vowel /ɪ/ in [is].
(11):Mr. Jobs connected consonant /z/, which turned into an /s/ before linking, to the schwa sound /ə/ in [as].
(12): Mr.Jobs connected consonant /z/ in [as] to vowel /ɪ/ in [is].
(13):Please review (10).

B-Connecting Consonant To Consonant

(1): As you already know, /t/ in [convinced] is a consonant and /ð/ in [that] is also a consonant. Since pronouncing both /s/ and /t/ before /ð/ is difficult, Mr. Jobs automatically deleted /t/ and /ð/ and connected the /s/ with the schwa sound instead.
(2): Please review (1).
(3): When consonant /t/ precedes /k/ as it did in [that kept], it cannot be fully pronounced and is sometimes deleted (omitted). It depends on the situation and the speaker, it is also often turned into a glottal stop, which means that the air is blocked by the throat without moving the tongue at all. The glottal stop is heavily used by many British speakers, but also by some Americans in certain situations like the one here.
(4): When consonant /ð/ (only in pronouns like [that]) succeeds (comes after) consonant /z/, it is and can sometimes be omitted in the natural English.
(7): When two identical (same) consonants meet each other like [t] in [got] and in [to], they unite into one strong /t/.
(8): When consonant /t/ precedes /j/, it can either turn into a glottal stop as in this case, or /t/ and /j/ can merge into /tʃ/ but as that would be a bit too informal and perhaps inappropriate in the situation in which Mr. Jobs was making the speech, the /t/ was produced as a glottal stop.
(9): Consonant /d/ in [and] is often deleted (omitted) in the natural English anyway regardless of what comes after it. When consonant /ð/ (mainly in pronouns like [that]) succeeds (comes after) /n/, it is often nasalized, it sorts blends with the /n/, so you don't get to hear [th] as it is when fully pronounced.

C-Connecting Vowel To Vowel

(2): That is the only spot in which that occurred in this sentence. Please remember that the [e] in [the] is only pronounced as /i/ when it comes before another vowel. Now, when a word finishes with a vowel /i/ as in [the] in this case and the next word starts with a vowel like /oʊ/ in [only], we connect the two vowels with consonant /j/, so it sounds as if we were saying [the yonly].

Find out more about Connected Speech...

5-The [t] pronunciation

The pronunciation of the letter /t/ (and [d] actually) is very complex in English as it dramatically changes based on its location in the word. However, it is even more complex in the natural English. Basically, there are three very common changes that [t] undergoes.
Change 1: It is sometimes omitted after or before certain consonants.
Change 2: It is sometimes replaced with a glottal stop /ʔ/ where the tongue doesn't move at all, instead the throat blocks the air (and sound) before release.
Change 3: It is frequently pronounced like a quick tap (or quick [d]) between two vowels.
You can find out more about the [t] pronunciation by reading the word linking section above.

The text WITHOUT changes to the [t]

Steve jobs-no changes with t

The text WITH changes to the [t]

Steve jobs-changes with t

Find out more about the [t] pronunciation...

6-Stress or Rhythm

Simply put, we place more stress on the words and parts of the words that matter more in the sentence so that the listener understands what we are saying. Do NOT be confused between word stress and sentence stress. Word stress deals with what part of the word we focus on and sentence stress deals with what word in the sentence we focus on. Both of these areas contribute in the creation of rhythm and intonation in English.

Steve jobs-stress

Find out more about the English stress and rhythm...

7-Pitch (known as intonation)

Often called the "music" of the language or "melody" of the language because it has to do with how we change the pitch of our voice to tell people what we mean and how we feel. Intonation also covers stress but I prefer to deal with them as two different domains as they are both complex and therefore difficult to understand. Pay attention to the red lines on the image above and focus especially on the yellow circles as that's where Steve Jobs chose to change his voice to impact the audience and get them to understand the message that Steve Jobs is trying to convey. Listen to the recording several times while focusing on these key yellow spots where the pitch changes.
Steve jobs-pitch

Find out more about the English intonation...

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