“CRISP” is a pain to pronounce.
Crips, you say. Then you try again, knowing it’s a little off. Cri-i-ips, you give it another shot, lingering over the vowel with great focus and anticipation. Still, sly ‘p’ ends up first on the lips. The mighty plosive, once again, has pipped the poor sibilant out of its rightful position.
For some of us, the combination of the deadly double consonants, ‘s’ and ‘p’ at the end of a word is utterly vexing. Why can’t I say it properly whenever they are situated at the end of a word, as opposed to when they sit at the beginning? Give me special, space, spice, spill, and spell, no problem.
But let me have “grasp” or “clasp,” and oh dear! What I say is not what it’s supposed to be: graps, claps.
So what do you do? You could just go, “Oh, who cares!” which is all hunky dory. You’d still, in all likelihood, be understood within the context of usage. My sister-in-law once had a chat about this some time back, when she shared how saying “clasp” was not her strong suit after we had drifted into a conversation about necklaces and necklace clasps.
But if “who cares” is not exactly your cup of tea, and you’d like to give a shot at elegance and correctness, here’s a technique that could get you saying crisp, grasp, and clasp, beautifully in no time.
First, practice saying “p” on its own. Make that plosive, spitting sound: p, p, p. For drama and sensory effect, place your palm in front of your lips. Feel that sudden gush of wind spitting out from your lips.
Next, let’s get down to the words.
For our first word, crisp, say criss, then spit your plosive, ‘p’. And again: criss, followed by ‘p’.
Do the same for grasp (grass, then spit ‘p’) and clasp (class, spit ‘p’). Make the sounds distinct and separate at first, then work at a slow transition. Next, speed it up for a smooth, seamless segue.
In other words, think:
. criss + p
. grass + p
. class + p
This should work. My Thai student can attest to that.
I invite you to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any word ideas you’d like to share.
Next up: How To Pronounce “Opportunity”
If you like our “How to Pronounce It” posts, you might also enjoy our “Word of the Week” series.