Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video you’ll learn how to link words together using the P consonant.
The P /p/ consonant
The P consonant is a stop consonant. This means that the airflow is stopped somewhere along the vocal tract - somewhere between the vocal cords and the lips. For the P consonant, the airflow is stopped at the lips.
You probably learned to pronounce the P sound like this, /p/, /p/, /p/, with an audible puff of air that comes out as the lips open up at the end of the P sound. This can happen in a word like
Did you hear the /p/ sound at the end? That was made when my lips opened up and released the airflow.
Linking with P /p/: Consonant to consonant
However, the P consonant is not always fully released, especially when it comes at the end of a word and the next word begins with a consonant, and especially when it’s a stop consonant.
In this case, what usually happens is the P sound is unreleased, meaning the lips come together to make the P sound, and then the lips stay closed. There isn’t a release of air at the end.
Here’s what an unreleased P sounds like in the word top.
Notice how my lips stay closed at the end of the P consonant.
Now, let’s look at the P consonant in a phrase like Top Gun.
I’ll say it slowly. Watch my lips as I pronounce the second P sound. Is it released or unreleased?
I pronounced this with an unreleased P consonant. Listen again.
It’s not, Top Gun, with an audible release of air. It’s, Top Gun, with an unreleased P sound.
Some people consider this to be a mini-released P consonant because the release happens as you say the following consonant.
I’ll demonstrate an unreleased P consonant, a mini-released P consonant, and a fully released P consonant. Listen closely to the P sound and see if you can hear the difference.
Either the unreleased P or the mini-released P would be acceptable for linking, but the fully released P is too much of a release, and it disrupts the fluency of the phrase.
Linking with P /p/: Consonant to vowel
I’ve discussed how to link with the P consonant when the next word or syllable begins with a consonant...but what if the next word begins with a vowel? Luckily, this type of linking is a little bit easier to imitate.
When one word ends in a P consonant, and the next word begins with a vowel, like in the phrase cup of coffee, native speakers usually take the P consonant and put it onto the beginning of the next word.
So the phrase cup of coffee is really said like “kuh - puhv coffee”
“Kuh - puhv”
“Kuh - puhv”
It’s not, cup of with a mini-released P, it’s “kuh-puhv”, with the P sound placed at the beginning of the word of.
Linking with P /p/: Practice
Let’s practice linking words together using the P consonant, and in these examples, the next word will begin with either a consonant or a vowel. Remember that if the next word begins with a consonant, the P sound will be unreleased or have a mini-release. If the next word begins with a vowel, the P sound will be moved to the beginning of the next word.
I’ll say each phrase three times, and I want you to repeat in the pauses.
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I hope you enjoyed the video! 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!