Language Matters : Connected Speech

Pronunciation changes in connected speech often cause comprehension problems for learners. To help them you need a clear understanding of what the features are and how they affect words in the stream of speech. Check how well you understand this area by working on the following questions. If you're new to the area, you should look first at the following post :  An introduction to the features of connected speech.  And click on the links in the questions below if you need to to see the explanation of the term in the ELT Glossary.  You'll probably find the area less confusing if you spread the questions out over a period of time, reviewing each one you've done previously before moving on.   That way you won't confuse yourself  

When you've completed each question, look at this page for the suggested answers.


1. Catenation: Two different types of catenation occur in English and both are exemplified in the sentence below. What are they? Write the sentence in phonemic script, indicating where catenation would occur:  

Go and see if "Law and Order" is still on TV or if it's already over.

2. Elision: How many examples of elision might occur in the following sentence if spoken at normal conversational speed?   I thought we might have smoked salmon first, then roast pork and various different vegetables, and finish it all off with chocolate mousse and cream.

Transcribe the sentence in its citation form first and then again, deleting any phonemes you think might not be pronounced.


3. Assimilation


1.   Transcribe the following phrases in phonemic script in their citation form, and then comment on and transcribe the instances of assimilation.

a) a white bag

b) a pet guinea pig

c) he's in Peru

d) he's in Korea


2.   The highlighted words in the  following two examples show a different type of assimilation from those in examples a-d. Why? Choose one of the six underlined examples, transcribe the word(s) in their citation form, then comment on and transcribe the changes caused by assimilation.

a) I have to go, but he has to stay.

b) Cats and dogs mewed and barked.


4. Putting it all together 

Comment on, and illustrate in phonemic script, the features of connected speech that might occur in the following sentence: 

What do you want me to do about Tom's e-mail?

As well as the three features analysed above, you'll also need to think about weak forms, yod coalescence and gemination.