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Modification of sounds in connected speech.


1. Assimilation

1.1. Place of articulation

• t, d > dental before [ð, θ]: eighth, at the, said that

• t, d > post-alveolar before [r]: tree, true, dream, the third room

s, z > post-alveolar before [∫]: this shop, does she

t, d > affricates before [j]: graduate, could you

• m > labio-dental before [f]: symphony

n > dental before [θ]: seventh

• n > velar before [k]: thank

1.2. Manner of articulation

• loss of plosion: glad to see you, great trouble

nasal plosion: sudden, at night, let me see

• lateral plosion: settle, at last

1.3. Work of the vocal cords

• voiced > voiceless: newspaper, gooseberry (and in grammatical …)

has, is, does > [s]; of, have > [f]

Notice: In English typical assimilation is voiced > voiceless; voiceless > voiced is not typical.

1.4. Degree of noise

• sonorants > are partially devoiced after [p, t, k, s]

Regressive assimilation: the sounds assimilated are influenced by the succeeding sounds

/nju: z / (news) → /nju: s peipə/ (newspaper)

/gu: s / (goose) → /gu: z bəri/ (gooseberry)

/fai v / (five) → /fai f pəns/ (five pence)

/ha v / (have) → /ha f tu/ (have to)

/ju: zd / (used) → /ju: st tu/ (used to)

Regressive assimilation can also be found in some words like:

describe → description

receive → reception, receipt

twelve → twelfth

five → fifth, fifteen, fifty

2. Accommodation

2.1. Lip position

• consonant + back vowel: pool, rude, who (rounded)

• consonant + front vowel: tea, sit, keep (spread)

3. Elision

3.1. Loss of [h] in personal and possessive pronouns and the forms of the auxiliary verb have.

3.2. [l] lends to be lost when preceded by [o:]: always, already, all right

3.3. In cluster of consonants: next day, just one. mashed potatoes

4. Inserting of sounds

4.1. Linking [r] (potential pronunciation of [r]): car owner

4.2. Intrusive [r]: [r] is pronounced where no r is seen in the spelling china and glass: it is not recommended to foreign learners.


1. Reduction

1.1. Quantitative

1.2. Qualitative

2. Accommodation

2.2 Positional length of vowels: knee - need - neat

2.3. Nasalization of vowels: preceded or followed by [n, m]: never, then, men



Assimilation is a phonetic process by which one sound under the influence of a sound near it acquires some articulation and acoustic likeness to that of other sound.

Assimilation results in the appearance of new phonemic variant. Each case of assimilation must be analyzed from the following view points:

1. From the point of view of its direction it can be progressive, regressive and reciprocal or /double/.

2. From the point of view of its degree it can be complete, partial and intermediate.

In progressive assimilation the assimilated phoneme is influenced by the preceding phoneme, e.g.

Finished /ʃt/ that’s /that is/ /t s/

In regressive assimilation the assimilated phoneme is influenced by the following one: news /z/ but newspaper /s p/ used to /s t/

. In reciprocal assimilation the adjacent phonemes influence each other.

E.g. asked /k t/; train /t r/. /t/ - becomes post-alveolar, /r/ - partially devoiced; twice /tw/ - /t/ - rounded, /w/ - partially devoiced.

Assimilation is termed c omplete when the articulation of the assimilated phoneme fully coincides with that of the assimilating phoneme.

e.g. Does she? /dʌʃʃi/; of course she does /əv kɔːʃ ʃi dʌz /

Assimilation is termed i ntermediate when the assimilated phoneme changes into a certain third phoneme, e.g.

Hand + kerchief = handkerchief /hæŋkətʃiːf /

News + paper = newspaper /’njuːspeɪpə/

Assimilation is termed partial /incomplete / when the assimilated phoneme acquires only some features similar to the assimilating phoneme.

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