Assimilation: the Process of Altering Sounds Essay

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This process alters sounds so that they becomes similar (partial assimilation) or identical (total assimilation) to a neighboring or nearby sound. There are different types of assimilation: regressive/ anticipatory, progressive and reciprocal. * regressive/ anticipatory: articulation of the following sound will be anticipated. In most cases assimilation is regressive * progressive: articulation of a sound continues in the next sound, which means it will be maintained. Progressive assimilation is rare. * reciprocal: two sounds that produces a third one. (Example: dont yo

Assimilation This is the influence of one sound on another to become more like itself. For a full and exhaustive description of this phenomenon have a look at the excellent Wikipedia page. To illustrate, how would your pronounce the following?

1. /t/ in that man → /°¦pm¦n/
2. /n/ in ten girls → /temgɜ:lz/
3. /s/ in this shop → /°ÉªÊƒÉ’p/
At the end of a syllable, sounds made on the ridge just behind the teeth are affected by sounds produced with the lips . In technical speak: the alveolar consonants (/t/, /d/ and /n/) become bilabial (/p/, /b/ and /m/). Other examples

ground plan /graÊŠm pl¦n/
action planning /¦kʃəmpl¦nɪŋ/
brown bear /baÊŠmbeÉ™/
Common Market /kɒməmɑ:kɪt/
bus shelter /bʊʃeltə/
Voicing can also be affected when the voiced consonant /v/ can become its unvoiced equivalent /f/ when followed by the unvoiced /t/. have to go /h¦ftÉ™gəʊ/
The plosive /d/ and /j/ can coalesce (i.e. fuse) becoming less much less plosive. In fact it becomes the affricate /dʒ/. how dyou do? /haʊʤədu:/
Similarly, the plosive /t/ and semi-vowel /j/ can coalesce to become the affricate /tʃ/ ¦ dont yknow /dəʊnʧəkəʊ/
Elision : Sounds disappear completely in this process. Usually the vowels
from unstressed syllables are elided first. Examples:
Common sound deletions
int(e)rest, sim(i)lar, lib(a)ry, diff(e)rent, t(o)night.
/ t / and / d / = consonants often elided
chris(t)mas, san(d)wich
/ h /= this sound is often left out
you shouldn´t (h)ave
Phrasal verbs can show how we link closing consonants and beginning vowels across word boundaries, e.g. Get out ( getout ), Come out ( cumout )

Elision Elision is the complete disappearance of one or more sounds in a word or phrase, making the word or phrase easier for the speaker to pronounce. One of the most common elisions in spoken English is /t/ and /d/. next please /nekspli:z/

I dont know /aɪdəʊnəʊ/
post the letter /pəʊs°É™letÉ™/
old man /əʊlm¦n/
you and me /ju:nmi:/
stand there /st¦n°eÉ™/
Try to say the above word pairs without eliding the /t/ or /d/ respectively. How natural or unnatural do they sound? Apostrophes that mark missing parts of words are signalling elision. Examples include cant for cannot

hes for he is
Sometimes sounds are totally omitted:
comfortable /ˈkʌɱfətəbəl/ or /ˈkʌɱftəbəl/?
fifth /ˈfɪfθ/ or /ˈfɪθ/?
temperature /ˈtempərətʃə/ or /ˈtempətʃə/ or even /ˈtemprətʃə/? Some native speakers would argue that they never elide their speech and might go on to state that elision is a sign of, at best, lazy speech, and at worst sloppy and or degenerate speech. Should you wish to challenge their view, ask them how they might prefer to pronounce without any elision: Worcester

Elision is the articulatory organs literally cutting corners in connected speech, mainly at word boundaries. Speakers who do not elide may sound over meticulous and overly-formal and it may not be possible for them to take advantage of the natural rhythm patterns and intonation that come with fluency. Liaison (a liaison is an intrusion)

Liaison refer to the insertion of a sound between two others. In English, the most common sounds that are most usually inserted, in English, between two words are: /r, j, w/ Here r and there; get to w it; happy j or sad Speakers of languages that dont have these semi-consonants will either not make the liaison, or substitute another sound from their language to make the link.


This is where the consonant at the end of a word carries over to connect with a vowel at the beginning of the next word. great ape sounds like grey tape → / greɪteɪp / white wine why twine → / waɪtwaɪn / ice cream I scream → / aɪskri:m / Reduction

The substitution of the weak central vowel (called schwa /ə/) in unstressed syllables. Two or/ə/ three; a bit of/əv/ time
Double Processes
What can make these distinctions difficult to classify is that often more than one of these processes happen at the same time: Elision + Assimilation
bend back
(1) Drop /d/ ben back (elision)
(2) /n/ becomes /m/ (assimilation)
Result: bem back
Elision + Reduction
up and down
(1) drop /d/ up an down (elision)
(2) /¦/ becomes /É™/ (reduction)
Result: up ən down
Stress Timing

A quick definition: stress timed language are languages in which stressed syllables occur at roughly equal intervals of time. At the other end of the cline can be found syllable times languages in which each syllable is always given the same amount to time. One example of a syllable timed language is Italian and one possible explanation as to why it sounds so machine gun fast to English speakers ears is that contrary to English, In Italian, every syllable is given the same amount of time. How to demonstrate this to learners? Firstly, I board the following: You me him her

You and me and him and her
You and then me and then him and then her
You and then it is me and then it is him and then it is her

Then come a series of questions to get learners looking at the sentences: * How many words (or syllables) are there in the first line? [4] * How many words (or syllables) are there in the second line? [7] * How many words (or syllables) are there in the third line? [10] * How many words (or syllables) are there in the last line? [16] * Which line takes the longest to say? Do you think it would be the first or the last? Learners generally respond that it must be the last. To put their not unreasonalbe theory to the test, I use a time measuring tool, such a metronome, or hand claps to provide an even beat. Each line is said one by one with the stressed words on the beat. This is, for me, one of the greatest dangers of treating the English language as a monolithic structure based on pedagogic grammars. Many teachers have so stressed the importance of pedagogic grammar to learners that it is now very difficult for learners to believe that grammar is not the be all and end all of the English language.

Vowel Reduction

Vowel reduction is a feature of stress timing. Vowel reduction refers to the way that vowels are reduced when they are not stressed. A simplified version of vowel reduction would be to say that unstressed vowels reduce to schwa. Try this experiment. Say the following sentences, putting the stress on the underlined syllables: You and me.

I wish you would tell me.

In the first sentence, the you and me are given full stress but what happens to the you and me in the second sentence? Unstressed vowel in connected speech are characterised by a reduction in length and a change in quality. By change in quality, I mean that most monophthongs (single vowels) do reduce to schwa, or at the very least move towards schwa. This entry was posted in phonetics and tagged listening, phonology, speaking. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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