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Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes


1. Introduction
how sounds combine to form a larger unit which is the SYLLABLE.
knowing the syllable formation and division and presents which sounds can be grouped together in English.
describe how sounds, at the END of WORDS, may be influenced by neighboring sounds (connected speech
its definition and constituents
syllabic consonants and the sonority hierarchy
Phonotactics: combination of sounds:

Initial consonant clusters- grupos (in syllable onset position)

Final consonant clusters (in syllable coda position)

Connected Speech Processes:


-- Regressive or anticipatory
-- Progressive or perseverative
-- Coalescence
-- Linking-r
-- Intrusive-r


Is a unit of speech made up of one sound, a vowel, which may be followed and/or preceded by
other sounds, consonants.

the only compulsory element in a syllable is the vowel (monophtong or diphthong).

the preceding or following consonants are optional.

NUCLEUS: which corresponds to a vowel is obligatory.


(comienzo, arranque):

corresponds to a consonant, it is optional.

CODA (final de slaba): corresponds to a consonant/s if any, that follow the nucleus, it is optional.
RHYME: contains the nucleus and the coda.

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes

Examples of 4 different types of syllables:

Syllabification: syllable division of a word with more than one syllable (below for button [btn]).

the first syllable: but- has onset and a coda,

the second syllable: ton has only a coda.

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes


(tip 32)

in English, it is sometimes possible not to pronounce the vowel when it is followed by a

consonant (usually [n, l]) which is in the same syllable, and it is preceded by another consonant which
doesnt belong to the same syllable.
When this occurs the syllabification


of the word is still the same, this is, it has two syllables,

but the consonant [n] makes up a syllable on its own because the schwa is not there anymore.
with schwa: [btn]

e.g.: button:

without schwa: [btnn]

A syllabic consonant is expressed with a stick (palito) under the consonant. The transcription is nn.

But there is a problem with the concept SYLLABIC CONSONANT, as only vowels can be the nucleus

of a syllable and not a consonant. In order to explain this phenomenon syllables made up of one
consonant have emerged several proposals:
SONORITY HIERARCHY: whose definition of a syllable is based on the number of sonority peaks
with which a word is divided (instead of being based on the presence of a nuclear vowel).
According to this framework

(marco), sounds

have different degrees of sonority: some sounds are

perceived as being more sonorous (salient:prominente,destacada) than others.


more sonorous




less sonorous

For each word, the number of syllables corresponds to the number of sonority peaks (golpes de voz).

The word breakfast has 2 peaks of sonority, marked with a circle, so it has 2 syllables.

Regarding the word button, if we define the number of syllables of a word as the result of the

number of sonority peaks, we conclude that both pronunciations of button [btn] and [btnn] have
2 syllables since they both show tow sonority peaks.

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes


Is the area of phonetics that studies the combination of sounds allowed in a language, but not all

languages allow the same combinations.

e.g.: in English, the consonant cluster

(grupo consonante)

[sp] can be produced at the beginning of a word as in

Spain [spen], but in Spanish this consonant cluster is not allowed and this is why Spanish speakers
produce this word as [espen].

English allows a higher number of consonants in syllable onset and in syllable coda position

than Spanish (Be aware Box 11 to see examples)

Now, well see some of the most common possible combinations of sounds in English.

3.1. INITIAL CONSONANT CLUSTERS (grupos de consonantes inicial a comienzo de slaba) in


Include the combinations of consonants that can appear in English in syllable onset position
The number of consonants, in this position, can vary from zero (no consonant) to three.

It is possible to have syllables that start with no consonant, thus (as), the onset position is


e.g.: all [l],

ant [nt],

eel [il],

ink [k]

Except for [] and [], all English vowels can occur syllable initially.


Except [], all English consonants can appear at the beginning of a syllable.

e.g.: tea [ti],

sea [si],

mile [mal]

TWO-CONSONANT CLUSTERS (grupos de 2 consonantes)

Careful: affricates [t], [d],

fricatives [] and []

velar nasal [] are never found in two or three-consonant clusters in syllable onset


English 2-consonant clusters in syllable onset position tend to have 2 possible combinations:

1. [s] + consonant (but not all consonants can follow [s])

2. consonant + approximant (but not all consonants can be combined with approximants)

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes

The most common combinations are:

[s] + voiceless plosive (p,t,k) e.g.: [s+p,t,k] spy [spa], stay [ste], sky [ska]
+ [f]

e.g.: [s+f]

sphere [sf]

+ nasal ([m]/[n])

e.g.: [s+m,n] smile [smal], snore [sn]

+ approximant ([w]/[j]/[l]) e.g.: [s+w, j, l] sweet [swi:t], suit [sju:t], slow [sl]
plosive + approximant
e.g.: plane [plen], cute [kjut], twin [twn], dray [dra], glow [gl].
some fricatives [f]




[] + approximant

fry [fra] view [vju:] throat [rt] sly [sla] shrine [ran]

some nasals [n]




[h] + [j]

e.g.: new [nju] mute [mju:t] lure [lj] huge [hju:d]

WATCH OUT: Casi siempre [u] y [ew]de una palabra se transcribirn como ju + alguna
otra consonante si la hay.

(grupos de 3 consonantes)

In syllable onset position always have this combination:

[s]+consonant+approximant (w,l,r,j)
p:voiceless plosive

(this 2 cons. tends to be a voiceless plosive: p,t,k)

splash [spl],

t:voiceless plosive
ew: es ju

stew [stju:],

c:voiceless plosive


Sometimes [f] [m](fricative and nasal) can occur in this position, but in few cases.

[s]+approximant (w, l, r, j)

e.g.: sphragistics [sfrdstks]

[s]+[m]+approximant (w, l, r, j)

e.g.: smew [smju:]

3.2. FINAL CONSONANT CLUSTERS in SYLLABLE CODA POSITION (grupo de consonantes final en
posicin final de sl.)

Include the combinations of consonants that can appear in English in syllable coda position.

The number of consonants in this position varies from zero (no consonant) to 4 consonants.


Syllables that end with no consonant, so, the coda position is empty.

e.g.: core [k], blue [blu], tea [ti], sky [ska]

Except [e, , , ], all English vowels can occur in syllable final position.

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes

Be aware 16: In English, spoken syllables do not always coincide with written syllables,

especially when the word contains double letters. So, when a word with a double letter is split across
2 lines of writing, the double letter is separated, so the pronunciation has only one sound.
e.g.: belly (bel-ly) [bel-i] porque si se dividiera as [be-li] la primera slaba acabara en la vocal [e] y
esto no puede ocurrir.

funny (fun-ny) [fn-i]


Except [h, j, w], all English consonants can appear at the end of a syllable.

[r] only appears at the end of a syllable in rhotic accents (General American or Scots) but not in

NON-RHOTIC accents as RP. (tip 26, p.92)

e.g. of rhotic accents:






(grupos de dos consonantes)

Consonants [g, , ] cannot be on the second position of a two-consonant cluster in syllable

coda position.

Two-consonant clusters in syllable coda position tend to have 2 possible combinations:

1. Nasal/ lateral/ [s]+obstruents (plosive, fricative, affricate)

1.a. nasal+ obstruent

length [le], jump [dmp], link [lk] n, m, n (voiceless)+ p k

1.b. lateral+obstruent

salt [slt],

1.c. s+ [p, t, k]voiceless crisp [krsp]

health [hel] , squelch [skwelt] l+t, , t (voiceless).

fast [fst] risk [rsk]

2. Consonants+[t, d]as past tense morpheme boundary (como lmite del morfema de pasado) tip 31
y 15.

2.a. cd. el verbo en infinitivo tiene la ltima consonante sorda, el morf. de pasado ed se transcribe
como [t]

parked [pkt]

2.b. cd. el verbo en infinitivo tiene la ltima consonante sonora, el morf. de pasado ed se transcribe
como [d] y esta d suele ser devoiced (ensordecida) d
seemed [simd]

named [nemdd]

2.c. cd. el verbo en infinitivo termina en [t, d], el pasado es d; y la [d] final pierde la sonoridad,
as que se transcribe [dd]
greeted [gritdd]

added [ddd]

2.1. conson.+[s, z] as plural and third person singular morpheme boundary and in
possessive cases (como lmite del morfema del plural y de la 3 pers. singular) tip 30

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes

2.1.a. cd. el morfema de 3 pers. sing. o del plural acabe en sonido sonoro o en vocal, la [s] se
transcribir por [z]. As saw in tip 20, [z] in final position loses its voicing and sounds very
similar to [s]

call [klz],

2.1.b. cd. el morfema de 3 pers. sing. o del plural acabe en sonido sordo, la [s] se transcribir
por [s]

cats [kts],

Kates [kets]

2.1.c. cd. la palabra acabe con [s, z, , , t, d], entonces el plural es [z], y la [z] ser ensordecida al
final de palabra. Lo que significa que se transcribir [zd].
horses [hszd]

rises [razzd]

Georges [ddzd]

2.2. conson.+[]as ordinal number morpheme boundary (como lmite del morfema del nmero

2.a. el morfema de los nmeros ordinales th se transcribir con []

fifth [ff],

tenth [ten]

The choice between [t] and [d] (past tense morpheme) or [s] and [z] (plural morpheme/third

person singular morpheme) depends on the voice condition (if its voiceless or voiced) of the
preceding consonant

(de la consonante anterior).

THREE CONSONANT CLUSTERS in syllable coda position

Tend to be made up of a group with 2 consonants (nasal /lateral /[s] + obstruent) followed by a
consonant that corresponds to a morpheme boundary (past tense: t, d; plural or 3 pers. sing.: s, z; or
an ordinal number: ).
nasal+obstruent+morpheme conson. =

bands / bndz/

lateral+obstruent+ morpheme conson.= milked / mlkt/

[s]+ [p, t, k]+ morpheme conson. =

jumped / dmpt/
twelfth / twelf/

risks / rsks/ asked / skt/

There are a few words which have the last final syllable with 3 consonants but that last consonant is
not a morpheme. The most common are: text /tekst/ glimpse /glmps/
FOUR CONSONANT CLUSTERS in syllable coda position
Can only be made by adding a morpheme to a syllable which already belongs to a 3-consonant group.
twelfths / twelfs/
texts / teksts/
glimpsed / glmpst/
Note that the word twelfths contains 2 morpheme (the ordinal number and the plural one), that
is, [twelf++s] NO LO ENTIENDO.

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes

4. CONNECTED SPEECH PROCESSES (in the book, from p. 92 to 128)

Involve the changing of some features of a sound due to the influence of neighbouring sounds.
example: the voiced, alveolar, nasal [n] at the end of a word becomes bilabial [m] when the next
word starts with a bilabial consonant as in ten miles [ten malz]>[tem malz].
The most common connected speech processes are assimilation, elision and liaison.

4.1. Assimilation

Assimilation is a process by which one or more sounds take characteristics from another sound.
Assimilations are classified according to the direction in which the borrowing features takes place.
There are three types of assimilations:

1) regressive or anticipatory, 2) progressive or perseverative and 3) coalescence.

This is the most common type of assimilation in English. One sound anticipates some features of the
following sound; the direction of the assimilatory process goes backwards.


sound 1

sound 2


Their transcription is: /t gl/ but because of the anticipatory process the [t] anticipates the features of
[g], so [t] becomes [k]
e.g.: [t] plosive alveolar voiceless becomes [k] a plosive velar voiceless.
English consonants affected by the anticipatory assimilation process are: (tip 33, 34)
plosives [t d]
nasal [n]
fricative [s z]

Common characteristic of these sounds

they all have the same place of articulation: alveolar. And only the alveolar feature is affected by the

assimilatory process, this means, these sounds only change their place of articulation but not their
original voice condition (voiceless or voiced) and their manner of articulation.
ten miles [ten malz]>[tem malz]


voice condition





manner of articulation





place of articulation

that girl [t gl] > [k gl]





Another important condition to remember regarding regressive assimilation

Is that [t, d, n, s, z] do not anticipate the place of articulation features of any following sound.

Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes

[n] in ten hats is followed by [h] a glottal sound, but [n] is not influenced by it, so it remains
The only possible changes can be:
1. [t, d, n] become bilabial (p, b, m) when they are followed by the bilabial sounds [p, b, m]. Tip 33

[t] becomes [p] when followed by:

[p] that pack

/t pk/ /p pk/

[b] that boy

/t b/ /p b/

[m] that mint /t mnt/ /p mnt/

[d] becomes [b] when followed by:
[p] bad pack

/bd pk/ /bb pk/

[b] bad boy

/bd b/ /bb b/

[m] bad mint

/bd mnt/ /bb mnt/

[n] becomes [m] when followed by:

[p] one pack

/wn pk/ /wm pk/

[b] one boy

/wn b/ / wm b/

[m] one mint

/wn mnt/ /wm mnt/

2. [t, d, n] become velar (k, g, ] when they are followed by the velar sounds [k, g]. Tip 33.

[t] becomes [k] when followed by:

[k] that cat

/t kt/ /k kt/

[g] that girl

/t gl/ /k gl/

[d] becomes [g] when followed by:

[k] bad cat

/bd kt/ /bg kt/

[g] bad girl

/bd gl/ /bg gl/

[n] becomes [] when followed by:

[k] one cat

/wn kt/ /w kt/

[g] one girl

/ wn gl/ /w gl/

Assimilations do not occur when they are produced in SLOW SPEECH or when the speaker makes a
PAUSE between the words.


Shes a bad girl

/iz bd gl/

presence of A PAUSE

Shes bad, girl

/iz bd | gl/

Assimilatory processes take place within words, especially when they are complex
compuestas) that

is, if they are made up of 2 words (compounds) or if a prefix is added.


Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes




/watbd/ /wapbd/

PREFIX+WORD un+plugged

/nplgd/ /mplgd/

3. [s, z] become post-alveolar (, ) when they are followed by the post-alveolar sounds [, ] or by
the palatal sound [j]. Tip 34.
E.g.: [s] becomes [] when followed by:
[j] this yogurt

/ s jgt/ / jgt/

[] this gendarme

/ s ndm/ / ndm/

[] this shoe

/ s u:/

/ u:/

[z] becomes [] when followed by:

[j] these yogurts

/iz jgts/

[] these gendarmes

/iz ndmz/ /i ndmz/

[z] becomes [] devoiced when followed by:

/i jgts/


[] theses shoes /iz uz/ /i uz/

For more information of [] and [] see tip 17, p.
Note that in rules 2 and 3, some sounds have been included under the velar or the

post-velar labels; this is because not all English velar or post-velar sounds can occupy
this position or can trigger


the change.

e.g.: is velar but cannot occur in initial position.

r is post-velar but it does not trigger an assimilatory process of [s, z]
this road can only be produced as /s rd/
In phonological theory theses processes are expressed by rules which are formalisms that accounts for
regular sound changes that are common in a language.

The 3 previous processes can be described with the following rules:

1. [alveolar plosive/nasal]

[bilabial] / ________ # [bilabial]

2. [alveolar plosive/nasal]

[velar] / ________ # [velar] ([k],[g])

3. [alveolar fricative]

(is realised as)

[post-alveolar] / ________ # [post-alveolar/palatal] ([] [])

(in the enviorement of)

(word boundary)

(location of sound that undergoes the assimilation process)


Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes


This assimilatory process is when a sound takes features of the preceding sound and it occurs in

a minority of contexts. The direction of this process is onwards.

sound 1

sound 2

It only takes place when there is an alveolar syllabic nasal [nn] preceded by a bilabial or by a velar

Two processes are involved:

- the loss of schwa in the sequence [n] where [n] becomes syllabic.

- the assimilation of the place of articulation of the syllabic [nn] to the place of articulation (bilabial

or velar) of the preceding consonant.


/pn/> /pnn/ becomes /pm/ alveolar- bilabial because it loses the schwa.

bacon /bekn/ >/bekn/ becomes /bek/ alveolar- velar because it loses the schwa.


The rule for this formalism is:
1. [alveolar syllabic nasal]

[bilabial] / [bilabial] $ _______

2. [alveolar syllabic nasal]

[velar] / [velar] $ ________

An alveolar syllabic nasal acquires the place of articulation (bilabial or velar) of the last sound of the
preceding syllable. (una nasal silbica alveolar adquiere el lugar de articulacin- bilabial o velar- del ltimo sonido de la slaba


(fusin, unin) tip 35

This assimilation processes involves the merging


features from the two original ones.

of two sounds into another one which takes

The sounds affected by coalescence are [t, d] the alveolar plosive when are followed by [j] the palatal

[t]+[j] merge into a voiceless, post-alveolar, affricate [t]

[d]+[j] merge into a voiced, post-alveolar, affricate [d]
e.g.: dont you dare /dnt ju de/
should be produced as /dntu de/
let you


should be pronounced as /letu/

Less frequent

More frequent

met you

[met ju]


got you

[gt ju]


suit you

[su:t ju]


would you

[wd ju]


could you

[kd ju]


had you

[hd ju]



Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes

4.2. ELISION (tip 36)

Is a phenomenon which involves the loss of one sound in a given environment. There has to be 2

consonants at the end of the 1st. word and one consonant at the beginning of the next word.

The alveolar plosive [t, d] are the consonant that can be omitted at the end of a syllable if these two
conditions are met:

1. [t, d] must be in word or in syllable final position and they must be preceded by a consonant of the
same voicing (voiceless or voiced).

2. the next word can be any consonant, except [h].

The elided (omitted) sound is underlined in the spelling.



last night

[l:st nat]

[l:s nat]

cold night

[kld nat]

[kl nat]

next Monday

[nekst mnde]

[neks mnde]

found them

[fand m]

[fan m]













The phonological rules to express the elision are:


/ C _________ # C


(except [h])

/ C _________ # C

(except [h])

# is a word boundary; C is a consonant; indicates that a sound is elided (omitted).

CAREFUL: in the following sequences elisions of [t, d] are not possible:

when [t] is followed by a pause:



when [t] is followed by a vowel:

last April

[lst eprl]

when [d] ------------- by [h]:

cold hand

[kld hnd]

when [n, t] differ in voicing:

spent money

[spent mni]

when [k] cannot be omitted, only [t, d]:

bank loan

[bk ln]

In negative contractions, as didnt or cant, the [t] can be omitted even though [n] and [t] differ in

voicing (voiceless, voiced); it can even happen before a vowel or [h].

didn't think

[ddn k]

cant do

[k:n du:]


Pilar Palma del Paso

Connected Speech processes


dont arrive

[dn rav]

shouldnt hurry

[dn hr]


Cuando dos palabras juntas el ltimo sonido de la primera palabra es una consonante y el primero de la siguiente es
una vocal, se pronuncian juntas (o sea que se transcribe con liaison/curvita entre las dos)

This phenomenon occurs when at the end of a word there is a consonant and the next word begins
with a vowel, so they are produced together.
Liaison has 2 processes which always involve the insertion of [r]
1. Linking-r

2. Intrusive-r
LINKING-R (tip 26)

Is typical of non-rhotic accents, as RP, as this type of accents dont pronounce the final [r], as opposed
to rhotic accents which do pronounce it in all contexts.
But in RP, this phenomenon occurs with words ending in r re and if the next word begins
with a vowel, then the r will be pronounced.

e.g.: in RP, far [f] if appears in isolation or when the next word begins with a consonant, but when
far is followed by a word that begins with a vowel, it will be produced with a final [r].
e.g.: far away

[fr we].

INTRUSIVE-R (tip 26)

It occurs when the [r] is pronounced after certain vowels (even though no r is present in the
spelling) when the next word starts with another vowel.
This phenomenon cannot occur after high vowels i, , u, or after the closing diphthongs
which ends in and .
Intrusive r is common after vowels or after centring diphthongs which ends with .
e.g.: the word saw [s] does not contain any [r] in the spelling, but when it is followed by a word
beginning with a vowel as in saw it, an [r] is introduced.
saw it [sr t]
The phonological rule to express the insertion of r is:

[r] / V _________ # V