Connected Speech Linking Words Introduction
Who wants to eat pizza?
In English, it is common to join the sounds at the end of a word with the sounds at the beginning of the next word. It is commonly referred to as linking sounds, joining sounds or connected speech. This can be confusing, especially since the words sound different than when they are pronounced on their own, compared to when they are used in a sentence.
When words are pronounced in a sentence together it would not be natural to make the same pause between each word, therefore some words link together and form new sounds. This gives the sentences a rhythm, or what some refer to as a beat. Function words and content words also give the sentence rhythm as well, and are discussed in another lesson. There are different types of linking, so this can be a difficult subject to learn. It is best to study with a native English speaker or advanced teacher.
There are many different ways to link sounds together. The main forms are:
- Consonant to Vowel
- Vowel to Vowel
- Consonant to Consonant
- Intrusion or Adding Sounds
- Elision or Omitting Sounds
- Geminates or Double Sounds
- Blending Sounds
- Assimilation or Changing Sounds
The three main classifications are the first three, consonant to vowel, vowel to vowel, and consonant to consonant linking. These main classifications have parts of some of the other classifications as well. With each of these, there can be new sounds formed depending on which combination of consonant and vowel sounds are being combined. Sounds can be omitted and blended together depending on the combination of beginning and ending sounds. It is important to understand that it is the sound, and not the spelling that matters. Here are a few examples:
- I have to go. (Have ends in e, but has the consonant sound v.)
- He is twenty one. (Twenty ends in y, but has the vowel sound e.)
- I have an advantage over him. (Advantage ends in an e, but has the consonant sound j.)
- Please come here. (Please ends in an e , but has the consonant sound z.)
That is a basic understanding of the difference between the sound, and how the word is written. Here are basic explanations for the three main categories for linking, or what we call connected speech.
Linking Consonant to Vowel
When the first word ends with a consonant sound and the second word starts with a vowel sound, the consonant sound is typically moved forward to the next word. Here are a few examples of linking consonant to vowel sounds in connected speech:
- Turn off your phone. Tur noff your phone.
- He should stop it. He should sta pit.
- I will read a book. I will ree da book.
- Bring it and a towel. Bring it an da towel.
Linking Vowel to Vowel
When the first word ends with a vowel sound and the second word starts with a vowel sound, they usually form either a /w/ or a /y/ sound. Here are a few examples of linking vowel to vowel sounds in connected speech. The first ones are with the added /w/ sound and the last ones are with the added /y/ sound:
- Who is your favorite actor? Who wis your favorite actor?
- Do all of them. Do wall of them.
- He does it all too often. He does it all too wof ten.
- What happened in the end? What happened in the yend?
- Why am I the last one? Why yam I the last one?
- He asked for you. He yasked for you.
Note that in the examples above there are other words that can be linked together in the sentences. The examples focus on the two main vowel to vowel linking sounds. Also note that the /w/ sound is usually formed if the lips are rounded at the end of the first word. Lastly, the /y/ sound is usually formed if the lips are wide at the end of the first word.
Linking Consonant to Consonant
When the first word ends with a consonant sound and the second word starts with a consonant sound, there are various sounds that are made based on the different combinations. When linking consonant to consonant sounds that sound the same or similar, hold the middle sound as one main sound. The sound forms a bridge between the two words. When linking consonant to consonant sounds that have different sounds, they blend together, instead of bridging together the words with one main sound. They can also form a completely different sound. Here are just a few examples of connected speech for consonant to consonant sounds:
- We had the best time last night! We had the besttime last night! (Same sounds)
- I had a good day today. I had a guhdday today. (Same sounds)
- Sit down and listen. Siddown and listen. (Similar sounds)
- This might work. Thismight work. (Different sounds, blending sounds)
- That was a tough one. That was a tafwone (Different sounds, forming a new sound)
- Good night beautiful. Goodnight beautiful. (Different sounds, forming a new sound)
Assimilation or Changing Sounds
Assimilation is when sounds are merged together to form a completely new, or blended sound. This is common in consonant to consonant linking, where the consonants have different sounds. This is Unlike consonant to consonant with the same sounds, that share, or bridge the sound. The most common examples are the /t/ or /d/ sounds followed by the /j/ sound. When these sounds are blended they form either a /ch/ or a /j/ sound. There are other combinations as well, but again, these are the most common. Keep in mind that assimilation can be either partial or full assimilation.
Here are a few examples:
- Did you meet her? Dijew meet her?
- She hit you in the arm. She hichew in the arm.
- Tim is the best man. Jack is the bessman..
- Jenny is a good girl. Jenny is a googgirl.
- Can I borrow ten bucks? Can I borrow tembucks?
Intrusion or Adding Sounds
Intrusion happens when the speaker places an additional sound between two different sounds. The most common sounds that are added are the /r/, /j/ and /w/ sounds. Typically these are the easiest to hear and understand. Here are a few examples of intrusion in connected speech with the /r/, /j/ and /w/ sounds:
- The people from the media are here. The people from the mediarare here.
- There needs to be law and order. There needs to be lawrand order.
- I agree with her. Ijagree with her.
- Did he ask her out? Did hejask her out?
- Go on home now. Gowon home now.
- She needs to eat. She needs toweat.
Elision or Omitting Sounds
When a sound is removed from a word, it is referred to as elision. The reason this happens is due to native English speakers weakening sounds in a word for ease and efficiency. This is common with the /t/, /d/ and /h/ sounds. Here are a few examples of elision in connected speech with the /t/, /d/ and /h/ sounds:
- Tina must be pregnant. Tina mus be pregnant.
- I need to tell him. I need to tell um.
- It is just you and me. It is just you an me.
- She just kept going. She just kep going.
- He bought her a diamond ring. He bought her a diamon ring.
Geminates or Double Consonant Sounds
When the first word ends with and the second word begins with the same or similar consonant sound, it geminates. This causes the speaker to hold the sound for a long period, before releasing it. The exception to this is j(/ʤ/) sound and ch(/ʧ/) sound. The best example of this is orange juice. Do not hold the sound, produce it twice just like it sounds, orange juice. Here are some examples of connected speech with double consonant sounds:
- Look at the dark clouds in the sky. Look at the darkklouds in the sky.
- You must talk to your brother. You musttalk to your brother.
- It was a fast trip. It was a fasttrip.
- He had a bad day. He had a badday.
Blending creates a smooth transition from the end of one sound to the beginning of the next sound between two words. This is common between two continuous consonant sounds but can also occur between consonant and vowel sounds as well. Here are a few examples of blending sounds in connected speech:
- I want this many. I want thismany.
- He loves his mom. He loves hismom.
- Do you want this apple? Do you want thisapple?
- I need to study this month. I need to study thismonth.