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Linking In Connected Speech

Spoken English is not choppy. Native speakers don’t sound like this when they speak. Instead, spoken English sounds like one, long connected word. This is called linking - or the way sounds are connected within words and across word boundaries.


This might be different than how your native language is pronounced or how you were taught to speak English. In some languages, all sounds are pronounced clearly and distinctly - but not American English! As soon as words are spoken out loud and the sounds come into contact with one another, their pronunciations can change.


For example, let’s look at the words an and orange. When I say these words separately, I usually pronounce each word clearly and distinctly: an orange. But when the words are spoken together in a phrase, listen to what happens: an orange. An orange. I link the words together, and the “n” in an begins the next word, orange - and it sounds like one word. An orange. An orange.


Another example of linking can be heard in the phrase drink it. A native speaker will pronounce these words as “drin - kit”, in which the final consonant in the word drink, the /k/ sound, is attached to the beginning of the next word, it. drink it. drink it.


Linking is extremely common in spoken English - it occurs as often as it can - and it is important to learn how to link words together if you want to sound natural to a native speaker.


There are many rules to linking in connected speech, and I can’t cover all of the rules in this video. So today I’ll discuss Consonant to Vowel linking using the sounds N, R, and T.


Consonant to Vowel Linking occurs when a word ends with a consonant and the next word begins with a vowel, like in an apple. In this example, the “n” is linked to the beginning of the next word so that it sounds like one word, “anapple”. It’s important to smooth out the sounds as you link these words together with continuous vocal cord vibration  - put your hand on your neck to feel your vocal cords vibrating as you transition from an to apple. An apple, an apple. Remember - there should be no breaks in vocal cord vibration as you transition between the two words.


Another example of consonant to vowel linking occurs with the R sound. Listen to how I link the “R” sound in the word for to the next word an. For an hour. For an hour. For an hour. Make sure you feel your vocal cords are vibrating as you transition between the words - it should be smooth with continuous vibration.


Now listen to Consonant to Vowel linking using the T sound. Instead of using the true, released /t/, I will use the Flap T to link the words together. Listen for the Flap T in the words put and it: Put it away. Put it away. Put it away.


Here are some practice sentences that show Consonant to Vowel linking using the N, R, and T sounds. First I’ll say the sentence at my normal pace; then I’ll say it slowly so you can hear the linking connections.


It is her idea to run a race. (Fast and slow)


We bought a table for one of them. (Fast and slow)


Should we meet at one or eight? (Fast and slow)


Thanks for watching! And I'd love to hear from you - contact me to learn how we can work together to perfect your American English pronunciation!


Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent Julie Cunningham | San Diego Voice and Accent

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