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II. Interpenetration of Stages





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Interpenetration of stages usually takes place when consonants of a similar or identical nature are joined.

In this case the end of the first sound penetrates not only into the beginning but also into the middle part of the second sound, as in [-kt] act, [begd] begged.

Sounds of a similar nature articulated by different parts of the tongue. In the pronunciation of [-kt], [-gd] the organs of speech move away already in the middle of the first sound to take up the position necessary to pronounce the second sound.

This may be represented graphically as follows.

[-kt]:

k2 t2

k1 t1 k3 t3

Assimilation, Accommodation,Elision.

 

Two adjacent consonants within a word or at word boundaries often influence each other in such a way that the articulation of one sound becomes similar to or even identical with the articulation of the other one. This phenomenon is called assimilation.

In assimilation the consonant whose articulation is modified under the influence of a neighbouring consonant is called the assimilated sound; the consonant which influences the articulation of a neighbouring consonant is called the assimilating sound.

The term assimilation may also be extended to include cases when two adjacent consonants so influence each other as to give place to a single new sound different from either of them.

While by assimilation we mean a modification in the articulation of a consonant under the influence of a neighbouring consonant, the modification in the articulation of a vowel under the influence of an adjacent consonant, or, vice versa, the modification in the articulation of a consonant under the influence of an adjacent vowel is called adaptation, or accommodation.

Assimilation may affect all the features of the articulation of a consonant or only some of them. Thus we speak of:

1 assimilation affecting (a) the point of articulation, (b) both the point of articulation and the active organ of speech;

2 assimilation affecting the manner of the production of noise;

3 assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cords;

4 assimilation affecting the position of the soft palate.

 

Assimilation affecting the point of articulation takes place when the principal (alveolar) variants of the phonemes [t], [d], [n], [l], [s], [z] are replaced by their subsidiary dental variants if they are adjacent to dental consonant phonemes [θ], [р], e.g. tenth [tenθ], in them [in ðem], width

[wɪdq], read this [ˈri:d ˎðɪs], wealth [welθ], sixth [sɪksθ], has the [hæz ðə].

Assimilation affecting the active speech organ and the point of articulation takes place in the following cases.

In words with the prefix con-, when it is followed by the consonants [k], [g]: the forelingual alveolar [n] is replaced by the backlingual velar [ŋ], if the prefix bears either a primary or a secondary stress, e.g. congress ['kɒŋgrəs], concrete [kən'kri:t].

There is no assimilation of the prefix is unstressed congratulation [ken ˌgrætju 'leɪ∫n].

The same kind of assimilation takes place when a vowel beetween [n] and [k] in an unstressed syllable is omitted in rapid speech. Cf. bacon [ˈbeɪkən] → [beɪkŋ], I can go [aɪ ˈken ˎgɜu] → [aɪ kŋ ˎgɜu].

When [m] occurs immediately before [f] or [v] it is assimilated to them, and its principal bilabial variant is replaced by its subsidiary labio-dental variant.

Assimilation affecting the manner of the production of noise takes place in the following cases.

When the constrictive noise fricative [v] occurs before the occlusive nasal consonant [m] at the word boundary between me and give, let in rapid speech they are likely to be assimilated to [m], e.g. give me

[gɪm mɪ], let me [lem mɪ]. True, assimilation in this case affects not only the manner of the production of noise, but also the position of the soft palate.

Assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cords takes place in the following cases.

A voiceless consonant may be replaced by a voiced one under the influence of the adjacent voiced consonant.

Thus the voiceless [s] in goose [gu:s] was replaced by the voiced [z] in the compound noun gooseberry [ˈgƲzbərɪ] under the influence of the voiced [b] in berry.

A voiced consonant may be replaced by a voiceless one under the influence of the adjacent voiceless consonant.

Thus in the verb used [ju:zd] the consonants [z] and [d] have been replaced by the voiceless consonants [s] and [t] before to - namely in used to [ju:st tu] meaning ‘accustomed to’. This pronunciation is now common even when no to follows, e.g.

Used they to live here ? [ˈju:st ðeɪ tυ ˈlɪv ˏhɪ ə]

No, they usedn’t [ˋnɜƲ | ðeɪ ˋju:snt]

When the vowel [ɪ] in the verb form is [ɪz] is omitted in rapid colloquial speech and [z] finds itself preceded by a voiceless consonant other than [s], [∫], or [t∫], it is replaced by [s] under the influence of the preceding voiceless consonant. Cf.

What is this ? [ˈwɒt ɪz ˋðɪs]

What’s this ? [wɒtsˋ ðɪs]

 

The English sonorants [m], [n], [l], [r], [j], [w] are partly devoiced when they are preceded by the voiceless consonants [s], [p], [t], [k], e.g. small, please, slow, try, pew, quick, twenty, etc.

Assimilation affecting the lip position takes place when labialized subsidiary variants of the phonemes [k], [g], [t], [s], etc. are used under the influence of the following bilabial sonorant [w], e.g. quick [kwɪk], twenty [twentɪ] swim [swɪm].

Assimilation affecting the position of the soft palate takes place when nasal consonants influence oral ones. (See let me, give me examples above.) Also in sandwich [ˈsænwɪʤ], kindness [ˈkaɪnnɪs], grandmother ['grænmʌðə] the consonant [d] influenced by the preceding [n] changed to the consonant [n] and then disappeared.

In handkerchief [hæŋkət∫ɪf] the process of assimilation was more complicated. Under the influence of [n] the consonant [d] changed to consonant [n] and then disappeared. The remaining [n] in its turn changed to [ŋ] under the influence of [k]. Thus in the word handkerchief we observe assimilation affecting the active organ of speech and the point of articulation.

Assimilation may be of three degrees: complete, partial and intermediate .

Assimilation is said to be complete when the articulation of the assimilated consonant fully coincides with that of the assimilating one.

For example, in the word horse-shoe [ˈhɔ:∫∫u:] which is a compound of the words horse [hɔ:s] and shoe [∫u:], [s] in the word [hɔ:s] was changed to [∫] under the influence of [ѕ] in the word [∫u:]. In rapid speech does she ispronounced [ˈdʌ∫∫ɪ]. Here [z] in does [dʌz] is completely assimilated to [∫] in the word she [∫i:].

Assimilation is said to be partial when the assimilated consonant retains its main phonemic features and becomes only partly similar in some feature of its articulation to the assimilating sound.

For example, in the above-stated assimilation of the alveolar variants of the consonants [t], [d], [n], [l], [s], [z] to the dental consonants [θ], [ð] the main phonemic features of the former are retained, but their point of articulation is changed, and they are replaced by the dental variants of the same phonemes under the influence of the following [θ] and [ð].

In twice [twaɪs], please [pli:z], try [traɪ], the principal (fully voiced) variants of the phonemes [w], [l], [r] are replaced by their partly devoiced variants, while their main phonemic features are retained.

The degree of assimilation is said to be intermediate between complete and partial when the assimilated consonant changes into a different sound, but does not coincide with the assimilating consonant.

Examples of intermediate assimilation are gooseberry, where [s] in goose is replaced by [z] under the influence of [b] in berry; congress, where [n] is replaced by [ŋ] under the influence of [g]. In That’s all right [ˈðæts ɔ:l ˎraɪt] [s] has replaced [z] under the influence of the preceding [t]. In handkerchief [ˈhæŋkət∫ɪf] there are two assimilations: complete and intermediate. The change of [d] into [n] is an instance of complete assimilation, the subsequent change of [n] into [ŋ] under the influence of [k] is an instance of intermediate assimilation.

In rapid colloquial speech [z] followed by [j] at word boundaries is usually replaced by [3] under the influence of [j], e.g.How’s your father? [ˈhaƲ3 jə ˎfɑ:ðə].

Assimilation may be of three types as far as its direction is concerned: progressive, regressive and double.

In progressive assimilation the assimilated consonant is influenced by the preceding consonant. This can be represented by the formula A→B, where A is the assimilating consonant, and the B assimilated consonant.

For example, in the word place the fully voiced variant of the consonant phoneme [l] is assimilated to [p] and is replaced by a partly devoiced variant of the same phoneme.

In What’s this?, [z] is replaced by [s] under the influence of [t].

In regressive assimilation the preceding consonant is influenced by the one following it.

For example, the voiced consonant [z] in news [nju:z] is replaced by the voiceless consonant [s] in the compound newspaper [nju:speɪpə] under the influence of the voiceless sound [p].

In horse-shoe, [s] in horse [hɔ:s] was replaced by [∫] and thus become fully assimilated to [∫] shoe [∫u:].

In reciprocal, or double, assimilation two adjacent consonants influence each other. For example, in twenty [ˈtwentɪ], quick [kwɪk] the sonorant [w] is assimilated to the voiceless plosive consonants [t] and [k] respectively by becoming partly devoiced. In their turn, [t] and [k] are assimilated to [w] and are represented by their labialized variants.

In rapid colloquial speech one more kind of reciprocal assimilation may take place in some close-knit groups.

When [t∫]as in don’t is immediately followed by [j] as in you the consonant [t] devoiced [j] and under the influence of this the devoiced [j] acquires tongue-front coarticulation and thus changes into [t∫]. Cf. don’t you [ˈdɜƲnt ju],[ˈdɜƲnt∫Ʋ], can’t you [ˈkɑ:nt jƲ],[ˈkɑ:nt∫Ʋ].

When [j] is preceded by [d] the former disappears giving [d] tongue-front coarticulation. As a result [dj] is replaced by [d3]. Cf. did you [ˈdɪd jƲ], [ˈdɪd3Ʋ], could you [ˈkƲd jƲ],[ˈkƲd3Ʋ].

If the present-day pronunciation of a word is the result of an assimilation which took place at an earlier stage in the history of the language we have the so-called historical assimilation.

Thus a regular series of assimilations took place in the English language in words where the consonants [s], [z], [t] were followed by [j] provided these consonant combinations occured in unstressed syllables. Reciprocal assimilation which took place in the combinations [sj], [zj],[tj] changed them into [∫],[ʒ],[t∫] respectively, e.g. occasion [ə'keɪʒən] from [o'kezjon], session ['se∫ən] from ['sesjon], question ['kwest∫ən] from ['kwestjon], nature ['neɪt∫ə] from ['netjur]. While the combinations of the sounds [ti], [tj] have changed, as a result of assimilation, into [t∫] in the unstressed syllable of the words nature, culture, no assimilation has taken place in mature [mə'tjʋə] because -ture is stressed.

The existence of two pronunciations of the word issue (['ɪsju:] and ['ɪ∫ʃu:]) shows that assimilations of this type are still going on in the English language.

In the pronunciation of such compounds as horse-shoe, gooseberry, at word boundaries such as does she, used to, we have contextual assimilations. In contextual assimilation a word comes to have a pronunciation different from that which it has when said by itself.

Thus we pronounce horse-shoe ['hɔ:∫∫u:], but the word horse by itself is pronounced [hɔ:s]. We say newspaper ['nju:speɪpə] with [s], but news [nju:z] with [z]. We say does she ['dʌ∫∫ɪ], but in combinations with other words the verb is pronounced [dʌz]- does he [ˈdʌz hɪ], does it [ˈdʌz ɪt].

The above examples are cases ofregressive assimilation, where one sound changes to another because of the sound which follows. Here are some cases ofdouble assimilation, where two sounds combine to form a different one:

6. [t] and [j] coalesce to form [tʃ]:

You went to France last year, didn't you?

7. [d] and [j]coalesce to form [ʤ]:

Would_you like a cup of tea?

In accommodation the accommodated sound does not change its main phonetic features and is pronounced as a variant of the same phoneme slightly modified under the influence of a neighbouring sound. In modern English there are three main types of accommodation.

(1) An unrounded variant of a consonant phoneme is replaced by its rounded variant under the influence of a following rounded vowel phoneme, as at the beginning of the following words:

 

Unrounded variants of consonant phonemes [ti:] tea [les] less [nʌn] none Rounded variant of consonant phonemes [tu:] too [lu:s] loose [nu:n] noon

 

(2) A fully back variant of a back vowel phoneme is replaced by its slightly advanced (fronted) variant under the influence of the preceding mediolingual phoneme [j]. Cf.

Fully back variant of [u:] Back-advanced [u:]

[ˈbu:tɪ] booty [ˈbju:tɪ] beauty

[mu:n] moon [ˈmju:zɪk] music

 

(3) A vowel phoneme is represented by its slightly more open variant before the dark [l] under the influence of the latter’s back secondary focus. Thus the vowel sound in bell, tell is slightly more open than the vowel in bed, ten.

In rapid colloquial speech certain notional words may lose some of their sounds (vowels and consonants). This phenomenon is called elision. Elision occurs both within words and at word boundaries, e.g.

phonetics [fɜƲ 'netɪks] [f 'netɪks]

mostly ['mɜƲstlɪ] ['mɜƲslɪ]

all right [ɔ:l 'raɪt] [ɔ: 'raɪt]

next day ['nekst ֻdeɪ] ['neks ֻdeɪ]

The termelision describes the disappearance of a sound. For example, in the utterance He leaves next 'week speakers would generally elide (leave out) the [t] in next saying [neks wi:k]. Again here, the reason is an economy of effort, and in some instances the difficulty of putting certain consonant sounds together while maintaining a regular speech rhythm and speed.

The most common elisions in English are [t] and [d], when they appear within a consonant cluster.

We arrived the next_day. ([t] elided between [ks] and [d])

When we reached Paris, we stopped for lunch, ([t] elided between [tʃ]and [p], and between [p] and [f])

We bought a lovely carved statuette, ([d] elided between [v] and [st])

[Ə] can disappear in unstressed syllables.

I think we should call the police. ([Ə] can disappear in the first syllable of police)

I'll love you forever, promise. Well, perhaps. ([Ə] can disappear)

[v] can disappear in of, before consonants.

My birthday's on the 11th of November.

It's a complete waste of time!

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