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Aspects of Connected Speech 1

MAFS

CONNECTED SPEECH
Speech would be much easier to understand if it was spoken with a gap between every word.

Human speech is a continuous flow it is almost imposible to decide where one sounds ends and the next begins. In natural speech we can observe many processes that result in differences between isolated words and connected speech

Examples of connected speech phenomena are assimilation and elision.

The study of connected speech also involves looking at the process of reduction in weak syllables, at rhythm and at prosodic phenomena such as intonation and stress.

ASSIMILATION It is what happens to a sound when it is influenced by one of its neighbours.


For example, the word 'this' has the sound /s/ at the end, but when followed by // in a word such as 'shop' it often changes in rapid speech (through assimilation) to //, giving the pronunciation / p /.

It s progressive when a sound influences a following sound, (the next sound). this is exemplified by the 's of the plural ending in English. / z / after a voiced consonant ('dogs' /dgz/) but / s / after a voiceless consonant ('cats'/kts /). It is regressive when a sound influences one which precedes it. ( the previous sound)

Regressive assimilation: Alveolar consonants (e.g. / t d s z n /) which are followed by non-alveolar consonants: assimilation results in a change of place of articulation from alveolar to a different place.

The example of 'this shop' is of this type; others are 'football' (where foot and ball combine to produce / fpbl /) and 'fruit-cake' (/ frut / + / kek / = / frukkek /).

ELISION
Some of the sounds that are heard if words are pronounced slowly and clearly appear not to be pronounced when the same words are produced in a rapid, colloquial style, or when the words occur in a different context.

These "missing sounds" are said to have been elided. It is easy to find examples of elision, but very difficult to state rules that govern which sounds may be elided and which may not.

Elision of vowels
It usually happens when a short, unstressed vowel occurs between voiceless consonants, e.g. in the first syllable of 'potato', the second syllable of 'bicycle', or the third syllable of 'philosophy'. In some cases we find a weak voiceless sound in place of the normally voiced vowel .

Elision also occurs when a vowel occurs between an obstruent consonant and a sonorant consonant such as a nasal or a lateral this process leads to syllabic consonants, as in 'sudden' / sdn /, 'awful /: fl / (where a vowel is only heard in the second syllable in slow, careful speech).

Elision of consonants
It happens most commonly when a speaker "simplifies" a complex consonant cluster: 'acts' becomes / aks / rather than / akts /, 'twelfth night' becomes / twel nat / or /twelf nat / rather than / twelf nat /. It seems much less likely that any of the other consonants could be left out: the /l/ and the /n/ seem to be unelidable.

It is very important to note that sounds do not simply "disappear" like a light being switched off. A transcription such as / aks / for 'acts' implies that the /t / phoneme has dropped out altogether, but detailed examination of speech shows that such effects are more gradual: in slow speech the / t / may be fully pronounced, with an audible transition from the preceding / k / and to the following / s /, while in a more rapid style it may be articulated but not given any audible realisation.