Lecture 5 Aspects of Connected Speech Rhythm, Assimilation, Elision, Linking Rhythm

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Lecture 5 Aspects of Connected Speech

Rhythm, Assimilation, Elision, Linking


English has ______________________________ rhythm.

Stressed syllables have a tendency to occur at relatively regular intervals whether they are separated by unstressed syllables or not.


Thus, stress-timed rhythm theory indicates that the times from each stressed syllable to the next one tend to be _____________________________.


In natural connected speech, sounds of one word may influence the sounds of neighbouring words.

Assimilation is ____________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________ (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 2010, p. 36).

Assimilation is more likely to be found in rapid, casual speech and less likely in a slow and careful speech.

______________________ are the sounds which are mostly affected by assimilation.

For example, there are 2 words. The 1st word ends with a single final consonant (Cf) and the 2nd word starts with a single initial consonant (Ci)

If Cf changes to become Ci then the assimilation is called _____________________. When Ci changes

to become Cf then the assimilation is called ________________________.

An example of progressive assimilation, which is also called coalescent assimilation, is when a final [t], [d] and initial [j] often combine to form [____] and [____]. Thus, not yet is pronounced as [_______________] and could you is pronounced as [______________].

It has already been said that there are three types of differences between consonants:

1. Differences in place of articulation

2. Differences in manner of articulation

3. Differences in voicing

Assimilation of Place

Assimilation of place is most observable in some cases where Cf with alveolar place of articulation is followed by Ci that is not alveolar.


Assimilation of place is only noticeable in this regressive assimilation of alveolar consonants

L2 learners do not need to learn how to do it. However, they have to be aware of it since in influence their listening ability.

Assimilation of Manner

Assimilation of manner is much less noticeable. It can only be found in the most rapid, casual speech. Again, regressive assimilation prevails.


Assimilation of Voice

Assimilation of voice is also found in a limited way. Only regressive assimilation is found.

When Cf is voiced consonant and Ci voiceless, it is often observed that the voiced consonant has no voicing.


However, when Cf is voiceless and Ci is lenis, assimilation of voice never occurs!

I like that black dog [aɪ laɪk ðæt blæk dɒɡ] is typically and incorrectly pronounced by foreign learners as [aɪ laɪg ðæd blæg dɒɡ].

This creates a firm impression of foreign accent!

Progressive Assimilation

When a verb has 3rd person singular –s suffix, or a noun has and –s plural suffix, or an s’ possessive suffix, the suffix is pronounced as [___] when the preceding consonant is voiceless and as [___] when the preceding consonant is voiced.



Elision is ________________________________________________________ (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 2010, p. 192).

In a more technical language, it can be said that a phoneme has a zero realization or is deleted.

Again, L2 learners do not need to learn deleting phonemes but it is important that they are aware of this phenomenon because native speakers do that!

Elision Examples

1. Deletion of weak vowel after [p], [t], [k].


2. Weak vowel + [n], [l], [r] becomes syllabic consonant


3. Avoidance of complex consonant clusters

George the Sixth’s throne [dʒɔːdʒ ðə sɪksθs θrəʊn]

Although it is not impossible to pronounce, it is likely that something like [________________] or [________________] will be used.

In clusters of 3 plosives or 2 plosives + a fricative, the middle plosive can be deleted.


4. Loss of final [v] in of before consonants


Some authors also include contractions as examples for elision.


The words are linked together in sentences in a number of ways.

The most familiar case is putting the linking [___] between the words ending and beginning with a vowel sound.


In some cases, linking [r] is often regarded as inappropriate by some English speakers and teacher. It is also called intrusive [r]. Nevertheless, it is used in speech.



Linking [r] is a special type of juncture (__________________________________________________)


List of resources:

Cruttenden, A. Gimson’s Pronunciation of English. Hodder Education, 2008.

Crystal, D. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Blackvell Publishing, 2008.

Davenport M. – Hannahs S. Introducing Phonetics and Phonology. Hodder Arnold, 2005.

Richards, J. – Schmidt, R. Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics. Longman, 2010.

Roach, P. English Phonetics and Phonology. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Underhill, A. Learning and teaching pronunciation. Macmillan, 2005.

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