Weak form - schwa
This is a very common feature of spoken English which is often found in grammar words such as prepositions and articles and also in many words with more than one syllable. It is never stressed.
Consonant to vowel linking
When one word ends with a consonant sound and the next word begins with a vowel sound there is a smooth link between the two.
Vowel to vowel linking
When one word ends with a vowel sound and the next word begins with a vowel, another sound, a /w/ or /j/ can be added depending on the particular sounds to make a smooth transition.
Sounds and letters
Vowel sounds are not the same as vowel letters. The word European begins with the vowel letter 'E' but the first sound is actually a consonant sound /j/. So, when speaking the word European will be preceeded by the article 'a' and not 'an'.
Those British speakers who don't pronounce final 'r' will reintroduce it when the next word begins with a vowel.
ca(r) (no r in pronunciation)
The car is here (r is pronounced and links to the following word)
Words are not always pronounced the same! In normal fluent speech the sounds can change when words bump into each other. The changes usually happen at the word boundaries, particulary at the end of words.
Sounds twinning (gemination)
When a word ends in a consonant sound and the following word begins with the same consonant sound, we don't pronounce two sounds - both sounds are pronounced together as one.
I'm a bit tired
We have a lot to do
Tell me what to say
She's slept for three hours
Sounds disappear (elision)
When the sounds /t/ or /d/ occur between two consonant sounds, they will often disappear completely from the pronunciation.
I'm going nex(t) week
That was the wors(t) job I ever had!
Jus(t) one person came to the party!
I can'(t) swim
This programme looks at some more advanced features of connected speech when the pronunciation of words changes in everyday speech. These changes happen automatically when speaking fluently so they don't really need to be practised however being aware of them can improve listening comprehension.
Sounds change (assimilation)
When a sound at the end of a word takes on the quality of the sound at the beginning of the next word.
Good girl. She's a good girl. (goog girl)
Good boy. He's a good boy. (goob boy)
White paper. I only use white paper. (whipe paper)
Speed boat. I've never been in speed boat. (speeb boat)
Because of the place in the mouth where certain sounds are made, sometimes the sound at the end of the first word changes to a completely different sound.
Can go. We can go now. (cang go)
Can buy. We can buy it. (cam buy)
Green Park. I walked through Green Park. (greem park)
On Monday. He arrives on Monday. (om Monday)
Sometimes more than one feature of connected speech happens at the same time. In programme two we heard about ellision, when the sounds /t/ or /d/ occur between two consonant sounds, they will often disappear completely from the pronunciation. This means that the last sound of the word will be different and can be changed by the following word.
Hand bag. She couldn't find her handbag. (hambag)
Saint Paul's. I'm going to visit Saint Paul's Cathedral today. (Sem Paul's)
There is another common form of assimilation when both the last sound of the first word and the first sound of the following word change to a third sound.
Would you. Would you like some tea?
Did you. Did you see it?
Do you. Do you want to get a cuppa?