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Episode 5: Darwin's Finches
Transcript
We'll look at pronouncing 's' on the end of words and discover what pride of place means.
Australia is known for its unique, even bizarre animals. But far away in the Galapagos Islands is a collection of animals that's equally unusual
Something that is bizarre is strange. So what are these strange animals?
You have tortoises with very round shells and high shells or flatter shells. And they can be found on either high or low islands. The boobies - some boobies have blue feet and others have red feet. The iguanas - on some islands they are very dark and on others they look like Christmas trees.
Tortoises - Notice that the final 's' is pronounced 'uz' - tortoises.

The final is always pronounced like this when it follows an sound: tortoise/ tortoises, kiss/kisses.

The is also pronounced 'uz' when it follows a sound, such as in finch. Listen:
But Darwin's finches take pride of place.
Finch. finches. Plurals of words that end with 'ch' are spelled 'e-s' and pronounced 'uz'.
  • church/ churches
  • match/ matches
Now, what did those finches take?
But Darwin's finches take pride of place.
Pride of place means they are the most important. So why are these finches so important?
These little birds are related, but differ in their beaks and behaviour depending on where they are found. They helped Charles Darwin develop his theories of evolution. And since then, scientists all over the world have studied them to understand how species evolve.
And where are these birds found?
The Galapagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands off of the coast of South America. They've never been connected to the mainland, which makes them very special. There are about 50 islands. They vary in size. And islands are fantastic places to observe evolution happen because they are geographically separate and each island and each area is somewhat different. And so the animals become adapted to those particular conditions
Galapagos Islands. Notice again that the final 's' on these words are slightly different. Galapagos - a clear 's' sound. Islands - a 'zz' sound. Listen again:
The Galapagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands off of the coast of South America.
Now listen carefully for the difference in the 's' pronunciation on the word booby:
The boobies - some boobies have blue feet and others have red feet. The iguanas - on some islands they are very dark and on others they look like Christmas trees.
Boobies -
The long vowel sounds AEIOU are followed by this pronunciation:
A - 'plays'
E - 'trees'
I - 'flies'
O - 'potatoes'
U - 'glues'

Now listen for the 's' on Galapagos:
Visiting the Galapagos is transformational to anybody who goes there.
Short vowels:
a i e o u are followed by this pronunciation o - Galapagos
i - this
e - yes
a - mass
u - fuss

So there are 3 ways of pronouncing the final 's' depending on the sound it follows.

After 's', sound -tortoises
after 'ch' a 'z' - finches
and again after a long vowel - boobies.

It's pronounced 's' after a short vowel - Galapagos.

We'll leave the last words to the scientist who talks about a window of opportunity, meaning a chance to do something that won't happen again:
If we were to lose Darwin's finches, we would lose a window of opportunity to understand how life evolves on the planet. They are the best example to look at this question in the wild.
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