IV. ARTICULATORY TRANSITIONS
OF VOWEL AND CONSONANT PHONEMES
In the process of speech, that is in the process of transition from the articulatory work of one sound to the articulatory work of the neighbouring one, sounds are modified. These modifications can be conditioned:
a) by the complementary distribution of the phonemes, e. g.
The mid-open, front /e/ becomes more open followed by the dark 1 in hell, tell, sell. Compare with bet, let, set.
In the word keen /k/ is not so back as its principal variant, it is advanced under the influence of the fully front I'v.l which follows it.
b) by the contextual variations in which phonemes may occur at
c) by the style of speech: official or rapid colloquial. E. g.
Assimilation is the chief factor under the influence of which the principal variants of phonemes are modified into subsidiary ones.
Assimilation is a modification of a consonant under the influence of a neighbouring consonant.
When a consonant is modified under the influence of an adjacent vowel or vice versa this phenomenon is called adaptation or accommodation, e. g. tune, keen.
When one of the neighbouring sounds is not realized in rapid or careless speech this process is called elision, e. g. a box of matches /э ibüks sv 'msetjiz/ may be pronounced without/v/in/sv/ —/э 'büks э 'msetfiz/, Waste paper /iweist ipeipa/ may turn into /iweis 'pei pa/ in rapid or careless speech.
Assimilation which occurs in everyday speech in the present-day pronunciation is called living.
Assimilation which took place at an earlier stage in the history of the language is called historical.
For example the present-day pronunciation of the words session, question, nature, occasion results from the historical assimilation of /sj/, /tj/, /zj/ in /Isesjan/, /ikwestjan/, /'nsetjur/, /alksezjan/ to /isejan/, /ikwestjbn/, /ineitjs/, /э'кехзэп/.
As far as the direction of assimilation (and accommodation) is concerned it can be:
1) progressive, when the first of the two sounds affected by assimilation makes the second sound similar to itself, e. g. in desks, pegs, the
sounds /k/ and /g/make the plural inflection /s/ similar to the voiceless Jkl in /desks/ and to the voiced /g/ in /pegz/;
2) regressive, when the second of the two sounds affected by assim
3) double, or reciprocal, when the two adjacent sounds influence
To make the mechanism of articulatory transitions clear it should be viewed in detail in terms of the articulatory work of the speech producing mechanisms.
Each sound pronounced in isolation has three stages in its articulation. During the first stage the organs of speech move to the position which is necessary to pronounce the sound. It is called differently by different authors: initial stage, on-glide, excursion. During the second stage the organs of speech are kept for some time in the position necessary to pronounce the sound. This stage is called: medial stage, stop-stage, retention stage, the hold. Duringthe third stage the organs of speech move away to the neutral position. This stage is called final stage, off-glide, recursion, release.
There are two ways of joining the sounds: (1) merging of stages — when the final stage of the first sound merges with the initial stage of the second sound, loose type of articulatoiy transition and (2) in-terpenetration of stages — when the final stage of the first sound penetrates not only the beginning but also the middle of the second sound —close type of articulatory transition. For example in the word law the two sounds III and /o:/ are joined by way of merging their stages, see Fig. 17.
The first stage for III is the raising of the front edge of the tongue to the alveolar ridge and simultaneous lifting of the middle part of the tongue to the hard palate (the soft palate is raised). As soon as the tip of the tongue touches the teethridge and the sides of the tongue are lowered forming lateral passages, the vocal cords are brought together and made tense, the air passing between the vocal cords makes them vibrate: the vibrating air fills the pharynx, the mouth cavity and escapes through the lateral passages producing a clear allo-phone  of the /1/ phoneme —it is the medial stage of the lateral so-norant /1/.
- During the final stage of /II, the tip of the tongue moves away from the alveolar ridge and the whole of the tongue moves backwards to the low, narrow position for Ы, which follows III, the lips begin to get rounded for Ы, the end of III merges with the beginning of h:l. In the word /b:/ /1/4 is followed by Л/„ and /l/3 coincides with ly.lt, then follows /o:/g and /o:/3.
Interpenetration of stages takes place when sounds of a similar, or identical nature are joined together. For example: in the words act, bottle, vehicle the clusters /kt/, /tl/, /Id/ are pronounced with the "loss of plosion" — /kt/ and lateral plosion — /tl/, /kl/.
In /kt/ the medial stage of the sound /к/ — the back part of the tongue is pressed against the soft palate and a complete obstruction is formed — coincides with the initial stage of the sound /t/ — the tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge. The back part of the tongue is lowered only after the tip of the tongue is pressed against the alveolar ridge, the plosion of /k/ is not heard, see Fig. 18.
In the word bottle the sounds /t/ and /1/ are joined interpenetrating their stages. At the moment of the hold of /t/, that is, when the tip of the tongue is pressed against the teethridge, the sides of the tongue are lowered, letting the air pass through these narrow air passages (or one passage, if only one side of the tongue is lowered): the lateral plosion takes place — the hold. The vocal cords start vibrating
Az B2 /----------- j-tt
M, &iX\3 B^ ^f B/ ^
Fig. 17. Fig. IS.
at the end of the hold for /t/ and the air passes through the pharynx and the mouth cavity along the lateral passages, producing the dark allophone II] of the III phoneme.
After the hold of /1/ is accomplished, the final stage of /1/ takes place, that is the tongue returns to the neutral position and the vocal cords stop to vibrate. In /kl/ the air also escapes laterally, the vocal cords start vibrating at the end of the hold for /k/. The velar closure is released by lowering the sides of the tongue.
In a sequence: affricate -f- a stop, the affricate is released in the usual way, e. g. sketchbook /'sketfbuk/ — the alveolar release of /p takes place in the usual audible way.
When a plosive is followed by the nasal /n, m/ the closure is released nasally: the soft palate lowers during the hold of the stop, releasing the compressed airstream through nasal cavity; /bm, tn, dn/ — nasal plosion.
When two identical sounds are joined together, a single but pro
Russian learners are apt to mispronounce English clusters /tn/, /dn/, /kt/, /gd/ because the mechanisms of the articulatory transitions from /t, d/ to /n/, from /k, g/ to /t, d/ in English and the Russian clusters 7пт/, /kt/, /гд/ are different, that is, the timing of the work of the power, vibrator, resonator and obstructor mechanisms in English and Russian is different. For example the Russian clusters /пт/, /kt/, /гд/ :in аптека, факт, где /т, д/ are pronounced with an audible plosion of 7п, к, г/.
Cases of loose and close articulatory transition can also be observed
a) the mechanism of the aspiration of the initial stressed /p, t, W
b) the mechanism of the Russian CV transition, when a consonant
Both in Russian and in English the vowel articulation is superimposed on the consonant articulation which precedes it, this results in palatalization. However the delay in the onset of the vowel is longer in English than in Russian, which is characterized by the more obvious softening in the Russian consonants during the CV transition — close type.
c) Labialization in English (no lip protrusion) and Russian simi
When the two neighbouring sounds are affected by assimilation, it may influence: 1) the work of the vocal cords; 2) the active organ of speech; 3) the manner of noise production; 4) both: the place of articulation and the manner of noise production.
1) Assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cords is observed when one of the two adjacent consonants becomes voiced under the influence of the neighbouring voiced consonant, or voiceless — under the influence of the neighbouring voiceless consonant. For example, in the word gooseberry Is/ became voiced under the influence of the next voiced /b/ — regressive assimilation. In the combination what's this the voiced /z/became voiceless under the influence of the preceding voiceless HI— progressive assimilation.
In the process of speech the sonorants /m, n, 1, r, j, w/ are partly devoiced before a vowel, preceded by the voiceless consonant phonemes /s, p, t, k/, e. g. plate, slowly, twice, cry. In this case partial progressive assimilation affects the work of the vocal cords both in English and in Russian; compare the above examples with the Russian: пламя, смена, кров.
In Russian voiceless-voiced distinction can be completely lost, compare: суп, субпродукты where /6/ undergoes complete regressive assimilation to /n/ which follows it. Russian learners should be careful about the cases where regressive assimilation may fully affect the work of the vocal cords due to the Russian habit of regressive voicing
or "devouring, for example: blackboard — no voicing of /k/, setbauit — no voicing of HI, these people — no devoicing of /z/.
Two obligatory assimilations of this type in English are used ■to and have to (must), e.g.; / used to wear a suit /ai Jju:st t9 'wee э ssju:t/ but / used two /ai iju:zd Ни:/ (шаш verb), / have to be ■early /ai 'haef ta bi V3:h/ but / have two /ai 'hsev 'tu:/ (main verb).
In unstressed syllables the assimilations of Ienis to fortis (energy assimilation) are very frequent particularly with a) final inflexional /d, z/; b) grammatical items as, of; c) auxiliary verbs:
He collected stamps III
I was sure /s/
As cold as ice /s/
She refuses to answer /s/
of course III
James could tell him /t/
This assimilation is not observed in the most careful styles of speech.
2) The manner of noise production is affected by assimilation in cases of a) lateral plosion and b) loss of plosion or incomplete plosion. The lateral plosion takes place, when a plosive is followed by /1/. In this case the closure for the plosive is not released till the off-glide for /1/: the sides of the tongue are lowered and the air escapes along them with lateral plosion, e. g. please, candle, cattle (see above). Incomplete plosion takes place in the clusters a) of two similar plosives like /pp, pb, tt, td, kk, kg/, or b) of two plosives with different points •offcrticulation like: /kt/, /ktf/, /dg/, /db/, /tb/. In the first case a single ■plosive is pronounced with a very long hold, e. g, attraction, lamp post, what time, went down, big cat. In the second case the ■closure of the organs of speech for the second plosive is made before the release of the first. So there is only one explosion for the two plosives. The first is incomplete, or lost, e, g. act, fact, good girl, hot bottle. In Russian similar plosives have the three stages, which results in two explosions for both plosives: акт, факт(&е& above).
The mechanism of the nasal plosion is similar in both languages: a plosive followed by the syllabic/n/, /m/has no release — the release is produced not by a removal of the closure, but by the lowering of the soft palate, the air escapes through the nasal cavity, e. g. button, stop moaning, submarine. Nasal plosion takes place in Russian, <e. g. днем, обман, отнюдь.
Complete nasal and lateral assimilation may occur in the, there across word boundaries, e. g.:
turn the key /its:n бэ №'•/ —>-/%:п^_пэ Jki.7 open the door /teupn 5э vda:/—*-/(эирп пэ vdo:/ all the best /Ь:\ бз vbest/-^/'o:lwte vbest/
3) Assimilation affects the place of articulation and the manner of noise production when the plosive, alveolar /t/ is followedjjy the
constrictive, post-alveolar /r/. For example, in the word tip alveolar /t/ becomes post-alveolar and has a fricative release.
In should you /ijud ju:/ the place of the alveolar /d/ can be changed into palato-alveolar /dg/, which is not a plosive but an affricate, under the influence of the palatal /j7. which follows /d/: /'Judgu:/.
Elision can be historical and contemporary.
English spelling is full of "silent" letters which bear witness to historical elision, e.g. walk /wo:k/, knee /ni:/, knight /nait/, castle /ika:sl/, write /rait/, iron /laisn/, etc.
The most common cases of contemporary elision are Ihe following: elision of /t, d/ in
a) /ft, st, Jt, 6t, vd, zd, öd/ sequences:
waste paper /'weis грегрэ/ crushed strawberries /1кгл£ sstro:bnz/ bathed the baby /*ba:6 Эз 4beibi/ dived below /idaiv bijau/ closed doors /kbuz 4do:z/ breathed deeply /'bri:8 vdi:ph/.
b) /pt, kt, bd, gd, tft, dsd/ sequences;
cracked pots /'кгэек 4pots/ dubbed film /idAb Jilm/ bugged telephone /'Ьлд ^elsfaun/ enriched foodstuffs /mintf Ju'.dsUfs/ ridged surface /Ind3 vs3:fas/
c) /md, rid, gd/ sequences:
stringed musical instrument /'strip 'mjuzikl ^nstrsmsnt/ In a), b), c) cases elisions most frequently remove the marker of past tense in verbs. The meaning is usually clear from the context.
There are some words and verbal forms in which elision frequently exists in everyday speech. They are:
1. months and clothes with elided dental, fricatives: /mAn6s/->
2. fifth and sixth elide the consonants which precede /6/, e.g.
3. of elided /v/ before /5/, e.g.
seven of those apples /isev3n э Öair. ,replz/ six of the best /isiks d Ээ vbest/
— before other consonants, at more rapid tempo, e.g. two pounds of pears /ltu: Ipaunz э vpeaz/ a pint of milk /э Ipamt э 4milk/
Elided /v/ before /m/, at more rapid tempo, e.g,
give me your word /'gi mi jo: xw3:d/
leave me some more pudding /IH: mi ээ 1тэ: vpudin/
he mustn't have my share /hi 'nusnt h® mai Jes/
4. tt is reduced to t in the following verbal forms:
I want to drive /ai 'wonla vdraiv/ We've got to be careful /wi:v igots bi
5. going to has the form /дэпэ/ in all cases except very careful speech, e.g.
We're going to move house /\пэ 1дэпэ 'mu:v vhaus/
There is a tendency nowadays to pronounce sounds which are not pronounced as a result of historical elision, e.g. often /ufn/—>• /of tan/.
Assimilation in English differs from the Russian mainly along "the lines of direction: progressive voicing or devoicingis very rare in Russian, but quite common in English. It occurs in the following cases:
1. Contracted forms of the verbs, when the ending s is preceded
2. Suffixes -(e)s of the nouns in the plural, or the third person
3. The possessive suffix -s' or -'s, e.g. Jack's hat, Bob's dog,
4. The past indefinite suffix -ed, e.g. played, worked, lived.
e.g. five pence /ifaifpans/, gooseberry /,'gu:zbn/; these are cases of historical assimilation.
Regressive voicing or devoicing in Russian is obligatory both within a word and at the word boundary, e.g. пробка, сказка, воз сена, под столом.
Regressive assimilation of this type is very rare inside words in English, e.g. newspaper /inju:speipa/.
However it is observed in word boundaries in rapid, careless speech (see above).
Care should be taken to avoid regressive assimilation in such English words as tennis ball /items bo:l/, blackboard /iblaekbo:d/ and in the word boundaries: English book /Irnglij1 tbuk/, like that /laik löaet/, these people /'Bi:z ipi:pl/.
1. What is assimilation, adaptation, elision? 2. What conditions are responsible for the modifications of sounds? 3, What types of assimilation do you know? 4. What is the merging of stages? 5. What is the interpenetration of stages? 6, What is the difference between the close and loose type of articulatory transition? 7. How is the work of the vocal cords affected by assimilation? 8, How is the manner of
noise production affected by assimilation? 9. How are the place of articulation and the manner of noise production affected by assimilation? 10. Give examples of contemporary elision. 11. What is the difference between the mechanisms of articulatory transitions in English and in Russian?
•I. Read the pairs of words below, characterize subsidiary variants оГуоше! phonemes due to adaptation,
a) booty /lbu:ti/—beauty /ibju:ti/
b) bed /bed/—bell /bei/
c) coop /ku-.p/—cat /ks&t/—keen /kkn/
d) peel /pi:I/—pool /pu:l/—-Paul /po:l/
geese /gJ:z/—goose /gu:s/—gorge /дэ:аз/
*2. Read the pairs below. What variants of the alveolar /t, d, n, I1 should be used before /0, B/ which follow them?J
eight /eit/—eighth /ate/
that evening /löset vi:vmrj/—that theme /töset %6i:m/
write it /Yait it/—write this /'rait- vSis/
wide /waid/—width /wide/
read it /*ri:d it/—read this /iri:d J5is/
ten /ten/—tenth ДепЭ/
on my table /on mai ДехЫ/—on the table /on 9э »teibl/
heal /hi:l/—health /helB/
all his /to:t Jhiz/—all this /I3:l %Öis/
*3. What variants of the /r/ phoneme are used: a) when it is preceded by /0, 0/
*4. Read the pairs below. What variants of the consonants /d, g, 3/ are used before /w/?
a) dell /del/ — b) dwell /dwel/
luggage /UAgids/ — language /ilserjgwids/ gendarme /isa-ndam/— bourgeois /'buaswa/
c) read well /irl:d ^wel/—the bag which disappeared /бэ ibseg witf dis3,pi9d/
•5. Read the examples below. How are sonorants modified a) in the cluster* /pi, pr, tw, tr, kw, kl, кг/ before a stressed vowel? b) in the clusters /pj, tj, kj, H, fr, fj, 6r, 0), 6w, sw, si, sj, sm, sn/ before a stressed vowel?
a) lane /lern/ — plane /plem/
rise /raiz/ — price /prais/
. . ,, beware /bilwea/ — between /biitwim/
■dry/drai/ wire /waia/ lean /lkn/ green /grim/
try /trai/ quire ik clean /klhn/ cream /kri:m/
Explain the mechanisms of a) the orally exploded variants of /p, b, t, d, k, g/ in the left column; b) the nasally exploded variants of /p, b, t, d, k, g/ followed by /m, n/ in the right column.
help us Ahelp as/ departing /di'patirj/ don't ask /idsunt %ask/ darker /'dctkg/ ask us /4o:sk as/
help me Ahelp mi/ department /di'patmsnt/ don't know /idaunt vnsu/ darkness /idakms/ ask me Да-sk mi/
7. Explain the mechanism of the laterally expl ded variants of the It, d/ phonemes followed by HI in:
— that lesson /'Sset Jesn/
— good luck /igud к1лк/
*S. 5tate what cases of assimilation can be observed in rapid, colloquial stylt in the examples below.
a) bright blue
b) third part
<c) short cake bright green
■d) hard cash head gird
«) in Cardiff sunglasses
f) Christmas shopping
g) get your coat
I heard you come in bless you close your books .. .won't you? ...couldn't you? ...shouldn't you? .. .can't you? h) in the corner all the books what's the point? where's the breadknife?
*9. Transcribe and read the examples below, observe the elision of /t, d/ pie-ceded by a) fricatives, b) stops, c) nasals.
a) cleft palate c) slammed the door
b) trapped by
10. Transcribe the words below. Single out the vowels that may be elided in
nursery temporary reasonable
petitioner phonetically parliament
policeman potato buffalo
difficult preference government
banana secretary bachelor
boundary Edinburgh naturally
several especially awfully
suppose carefully comfortable
history ' possibly machine
perhaps suffering interesting
11. Transcribe the words below. Single out the consonants that may be elided
handbag humpty-dumpty landscape
postman attempt sanctuary
a sixth round empty next stop
last Saturday night time lamb
next time crumbs punctual
12. Give examples of historically established elision in words with the clus
1. Read the words, observe fhe stronger aspiration of/p, t, k/ before long vow
port tar car порт
Pete table cable торт
power tower cow кот
pit tip cat nap
2. Describe the difference In the transition from /p/ to Ы in the words "port"
3. Read the pairs of words, describe the mechanism of voiceless fortis, voiced
plight—blight try —dry crate —great found — bound tune—dune piece —bees penny—Benny park—bark twelve—dwell
4. Describe the mechanism of the articiilatory difference between the /e/ in
5. Read the word combinations below. Observe and explain the mechanism of
help Peter — сноп пшеницы club building— клуб был полон at times — оттуда good day — под домом black coffee — как когда
6. What mechanism is affected by assimilation in the pronunciation of /r/ in
7. Explain the mechanism of /k/ to /ö/ transition in the combination "like
8. Pronounce the words and word combination. Underline the sounds affected
breadth, wealth, at that, afraid, apron, thrive
9. Pronounce the words correctly, underline the two plosives, explain the ar-
apt —аптека helped—обточка fact—факт
*10. Arrange these English and Russian words under the headings: (I) aspiration, no aspiration; (2) palatalization a) loose CV transition, b) close CV transition; (3) labialization, labialization with the lip protrusion.
top, bee, pit, built, port, meal, cope, deep, beauty, tarn, corn, music, pepper, onion, peace, come, lean, car, cable, lion, dean, топь, поле, тина, Коля, тесто, роль, сила, лом, ток, день, пень, соль, ряд, пел, рёв, бук, кило, мел, вилы, полк, ком, дуло, coop, tool, tall, call, gorge, goose, doom, dawn, room, thorn
*11. Arrange these words under the headings: (1) lateral plosion, (2) nasal plosion, (3) loss of plosion (two plosionless stops).
actor, curdled, muddle, needless, mottled, Britain, begged, oughtn't, at last, what kind, admit, back to back, madness, witness, big books, partner, slept, cotton, great number, sudden, captain, top coat, red light, black goat, ripe cheese, huddle, at night, good looks
*12. Explain how assimilation affects the place of articulation in the vowels, /ta:—ka:, ki:—ka-, ku:l—ki:n, jes—ipju'.te, 1:1—ki:p/
*13. Transcribe these words and word combinations. Read them. Explain possible mistakes in the close CC transition.
anecdote, birthday, blackboard, medicine, this book, let's go, what's the time, sixth, his thing, pass them, is that, fifths, Smith's there, soothes them, in the
14. Give your own examples and explain the difference between the English
15. Give your own examples and explain the difference between the English
16. Give your own examples and explain the difference between the English
J7. Give your own examples to illustrate rf'fferent cases of elision.
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