Squeeze of the day: [nawzlaɪk]

When we’re telling a story about ourselves, we often mention something we said to someone. And a very common way to express “said” is simply the word “like.”

“He was, like, ‘It’s 20 degrees outside!’ And I’m, like, ‘No way!'”

Not everyone approves of this use of “like,” but it’s very common. Perhaps because it’s so common, we often don’t pronounce “I was, like, …” or “I’m, like, …” very clearly.

Listen to these three examples, taken from unscripted, conversational speech:

“I was, like,… and I was, like,…” “and I was, like,…”
[awzlaɪk… nawzlaɪk… nawzlaɪk…]

Here are the examples in context:

I was, like, “OK, I’m gonna go over here, and…”
“Are you OK?” and I was, like, “No!”
…and I was, like, “I’m from Sudan.”

In very quick speech sounds may be cut short or changed. In these examples, it sounds to me like the tongue isn’t raised high enough for the second part of the [aɪ] sound in “I” – instead, we go directly from [a] to rounding the lips for the [w].

So “I was” sounds more like [awz].

There’s nothing wrong with pronouncing “I was, like…” clearly. People often do. But since this is such a common phrase, tossed in very casually, listen for [awzlaɪk] too.

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