Words in connected speech


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Words in Connected Speech

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Words in connected speech

  2. 2. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech Every utterance is a continuous, changing, pattern of sound quality with associated (prosodic) features of quantity, accent, and pitch. The word (consisting of one or several morphemes) is, like the phoneme, an abstraction from this continuum and must be expected to be realized in phonetically different ways according to the context. If the word is admitted as an abstracted linguistic unit, it is important to note the differences which may exist between its concrete realization when said (often artificially) in isolation and those which it has when, in connected speech, it is subject to the pressures of its sound environment or of the accentual or rhythmic group of which it forms part. The variations involved may affect the word as a whole, e.g. weak forms in an unaccented situation or word accentual patterns within the larger rhythmic pattern of the complete utterance; or may affect more particularly the sounds used at word boundaries, such changes involving a consideration of the features of morpheme and word junctures, in particular, ASSIMILATIONS, ELISIONS, and LIAISONS. In addition, it will be seen that the extent of variation depends largely upon the casual or formal nature of the utterance, the more formal and careful (and probably the slower rate of) the delivery the greater the tendency to preserve a form nearer to that of the isolate word.
  3. 3. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech The modifications to dictionary pronunciation once isolated words are embedded in connected speech are fairly systematic and include: Assimilation Elision Vowel reduction Strong and weak forms Liaison Contractions Juncture
  4. 4. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech AssimilationAssimilation The process of assimilation is a type of adjustment in connected speech during which a given sound (the assimilating sound) takes on the characteristics of a neighboring sound (the conditioning sound). This is often misunderstood as "lazy" or "sloppy" speech, since the organs of speech involved appear to be taking the path of least resistance. However, such a characterization ignores the fact that assimilation is a universal feature of spoken language. In English it occurs frequently, both within words and between words; it by no means marks a speaker as inarticulate or nonstandard. There are three types of assimilation in English: (1) progressive (or perseverative), (2) regressive (or anticipatory), and (3) coalescent.
  5. 5. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech  In progressive assimilation the conditioning sound precedes and affects the following sound. This type of assimilation is relatively uncommon. It may occur when a plosive is followed by a syllabic nasal and the nasal undergoes assimilation to the same place of articulation as the preceding plosive, e.g.  In English, regressive assimilation is more pervasive as a purely phonological process than is progressive assimilation. In regressive assimilation, the assimilated sound precedes and is affected by the conditioning sound. It has to do with the instability of final alveolars. Word-final/t,d,n,s,z/ readily assimilate to the place of the following word-initial consonant whilst retaining the original voicing. It,d,nl are replaced by bilabials before bilabial consonants and by velars before velar consonants; Is,zl are replaced by palato-alveolars before consonants containing a palatal feature.
  6. 6. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech  The third type of assimilation, coalescent assimilation, is a type of reciprocal assimilation: The first sound and second sound in a sequence come together and mutually condition the creation of a third sound with features from both original sounds. Coalescence of /t,d,s,z/ with /j/ : The process which has led historically to earlier /t,d,s,zl/ + Ijl giving /,,,/ medially in a word (nature, grandeur, mission,vision) may operate in contemporary colloquial speech at word boundaries, e.g.: Assimilation is the natural result of the various speech organs ‘cutting corners’ as they perform their complex sequence of movements, and this occurs mostly at word boundaries and affects mainly consonants.
  7. 7. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech ElisionElision Since Old English, it has always been a feature of the structure of English words that the weakly accented syllables have undergone a process of reduction, inlcuding loss of phonemes or of vowels. The same process of reduction, with resultant contraction, may be observed in operation in Present English. It is important, however, to distinguish between cases of elision which have been established in the language for some time and those which have become current only recently. In these latter cases, the forms exhibiting elision are typical of rapid, colloquial speech, whereas more formal speech tends to retain fuller form under the preservative influence of the spelling. Established: initially  state, scholar medially  Gloucester, evening final syllable  time, name Present Colloquial: temporary, suffering
  8. 8. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech Apart from word-internal elisions and those associated with weak forms, sounds may be elided in fast colloquial speech, especially at or in the vicinity of word boundaries. VOWELS (a) Allophonic variation: When one syllable ends with a closing diphthong and the next syllable begins with a vowel, the second element of the diphthong may be elided. Smoothing occurs across word boundaries and internal in the word (b) Phonemic elision- Initial schwa is often elided, particularly when followed by a continuant and preceded by a word-final consonant, e.g.: not alone, get another, run along, he was annoyed when final schwa occurs with following linking Irl and word-initial vowel, // may be elided, e.g. after a while, as a matter of fact, father and son, over and above
  9. 9. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech CONSONANTS In addition to the loss of /h/ in pronominal weak forms and other consonantal elisions typical of weak forms, the alveolar plosives are apt to be elided. Such elision appears to take place most readily when /t/ or /d/ is the middle one of three consonants. Any consonant may appear in third position, though elision of the alveolar plosive is relatively rare before /h/ and /j/. Thus elision is common in the sequence voiceless continuant + /t/ or voiced continuant + /d/ (e.g. /-st, ft, -It, -nd, -ld, -zd, -d, -vd/) followed by a word with an initial consonant, e.g. next day, last chance, first light, west region, just one; left turn, soft centres, left wheel, drift by, soft roes, found five, hold tight, old man, cold lunch, bold face, world religion, etc. Elision of final ItI or Idl is rarer before initial Ih/, e.g. the alveolar stops are more regularly retained in kept hold, worked hard, East Ham, gift horse, round here, bald head, etc. Final /t,d/ followed by a word beginning with /j/ are usually kept in a coalesced form, i.e. as /t/ and /d/, e.g. helped you, liked you, lost you, left you, grabbed you, lend you, told you, etc. The /t/ of the negative /-nt/ is often elided, particularly in disyllables, before a following consonant, e.g. you mustn't lose, doesn't she know?, and sometimes before a vowel, e.g. wouldn't he come?, you mustn't over-eat!
  10. 10. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech Vowel reductionVowel reduction Unaccented vowels in the stream of speech are characterized by a reduction in length, and a change in quality towards a less distinct, more central vowel sound. Most monophthongs reduce towards //. This process is sometimes called centralization since the // sound is produced with the lips and jaw relaxed and the tongue in a central, neutral position. However, the monophthongs // and // are often only partially centralized, // reducing towards // and // reducing towards //. Example: You and me / / I wish you would tell me. /     / In the second sentence the vowels in the words you and me are reduced, i.e. shorter. This highlights the connection between unstress and vowel reduction.
  11. 11. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech Strong and weak formsStrong and weak forms Vowel reduction affects the frequent monosyllabic grammar words in English, and many of them have two or more accepted pronunciations, one when stressed or spoken in isolation, the strong form, and one when reduced in their more usual unstressed position, the weak form. These words have the following characteristics: they have only one syllable; they act as function words; they usually occur in the weak forms unless the speaker wishes to emphasize them to underline the message; the weak forms occur in speech only and are not (usually) shown in writing; they are high frequency words, though few in number (about fifty).
  12. 12. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech The following list of examples presents the most common of these words, first in their weak form and secondly in their less usual strong form:
  13. 13. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech LiaisonLiaison It refers to the smooth linking or joining together of words in connected speech. Fully liaised speech is characterized by a seamless, continuous quality, where final consonants are linked to following initial vowel sounds. Once again liaison is an essential ingredient of both rhythm and intonation. Poorly linked speech is typically rather jerky, perhaps stacatto, and the resulting lack of flow makes it more difficult for the speaker to take advantage of the stress system and so for the listener to focus on the content of the message. Some systematic forms of liaison are described as: Linking ‘r’ Intrusive ‘r’ Intrusive /w/ and /j/
  14. 14. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech Linking ‘r’Linking ‘r’ RP introduces word-final post-vocalic Irl as a linking form when the following word begins with a vowel. The vowel endings to which an Irl link may, in this sense, justifiably be added are /,/ and Those single or complex vowels containing final /,,,,/ e.g. in far off, four aces, answer it, fur inside, near it, wear out, secure everything. Prescriptivists seek to limit the allowability of linking Irl to those cases where there is an <r> in the spelling. Intrusive ‘r’Intrusive ‘r’ Many examples of linking Irl occur where there is no <r> in the spelling, such /r/'s being labelled as 'intrusive'. Such /r/'s are to be heard particularly in the case of II endings, e.g.: Spelling consciousness remains an inhibiting factor in the use of linking Irl, but the present general tendency among RP speakers is to use /r/ links, even -unconsciously- among those who object most strongly.
  15. 15. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech Linking /w/ and /j/Linking /w/ and /j/ Vocalic junctures where the first word ends in //, //, //, //, //, a slight linking [] may be heard between the two vowels, e.g.: But this is not sufficient to be equated with phonemic /j/; indeed, there are minimal pairs which illustrate the difference between linking  and phonemic /j/, Similarly, a linking []may be heard between a final //, //, // and a following vowel, e.g.: and minimal pairs illustrating linking [] and phonemic Iwl can be found, e.g.: In yet another possibility, the linking [] or [] may be replaced by a glottal stop.This is most common before a vowel beginning an accented syllable, e.g. very angry [ ']
  16. 16. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech JunctureJuncture Despite the fact that the word may have its isolate-form identity considerably modified by its immediate phonemic and accentual context, both as regards its constituent sounds and its accentual or rhythmic pattern, phonetic features may be retained in the speech continuum which mark word or morpheme boundaries. Thus, the phonemic sequence Il may mean pea stalks or peace talks according to the situation of the word boundaries (i.e. / + / or /  + /). In this case, if the boundary occurs between Isl and Itl, the identity of the words peace and talks may be established by the reduced // (in a syllable closed by a voiceless consonant) and by the slight aspiration of /t/; on the other hand, if the boundary occurs between /i:/ and /s/, this may be signalled by the relatively full length of // (in an open word-final syllable) and by the unaspirated allophone of /t/ (following Isl in the same syllable), as well as by the stronger /s/. Such phonetic differentiation depends upon the speaker's consciousness of the word as an independent entity. The following examples illustrate various ways in which phonetic cues may mark word boundaries: The articulatory features that are likely to enable you to distinguish the phrases are: the shortening or lengthening of vowel sounds on either side of the juncture; the delayed or advanced articulation of consonant sounds on either side; variations in the degree of syllable stress on either side of the juncture other allophonic variations in the phonemes on either side of the juncture.
  17. 17. Words in Connected SpeechWords in Connected Speech Adapted & summarised from:  Celce-Murcia, M.; Brinton, D. & Goodwin, J. 2007. Teaching Pronunciation – A reference for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. USA: Cambridge University Press.  Cruttenden, A. 2001. Gimson’s Pronunciation of English. 6th Ed. New York: Arnold.