Linking with the B /b/ Consonant

Apr 5, 2021

Linking with the B /b/ Consonant

4/5/2021

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If you want to master American English rhythm, you must perfect your linking skills! This video will discuss how to link words together using the B /b/ consonant, one of the stop consonants in American English. The B /b/ consonant, like other stop consonants, can be pronounced differently depending on where it occurs in the word and sentence, and depending on what sound comes after the B /b/ consonant. Sometimes the B /b/ consonant is unreleased (like in the phrase "cab driver"), and sometimes it actually moves to the next word and is released (like in "The cab is here")!

(Video Transcript)

 

Hi, I’m Julie with San Diego Voice and Accent, and in this video you’ll learn how to link words together using the B consonant.



B /b/ consonant: Stop consonant

The B 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 B consonant, the airflow is stopped at the lips. 

 

/b/ 

 

Released B /b/: Words

You probably learned to pronounce the B sound like this:

 

/b/, /b/, /b/

 

Notice how my lips open at the end of the sound, and there is also a small amount of air that comes out as I say the sound. 

 

/b/ /b/ /b/

 

This type of B consonant is called a released B consonant. Released means the lips open and a small amount of air is released as you say the sound. This is what a released B sounds like in the word cab.

 

Cab

 

 /b/, /b/, /b/

 

Unreleased B /b/: Words

However, the B 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 even more especially when it’s a stop consonant. 

 

In this case, what usually happens is the B consonant is unreleased, meaning the lips come together to make the B consonant, and then the lips stay closed. There isn’t a full release of air at the end. 

 

Here’s what an unreleased B sounds like in the word cab.

 

cab

 

cab

 

Notice how my lips stay closed at the end of the B consonant.

 

cab

 

Linking with B /b/: Consonant to consonant

Now, let’s look at the B consonant in a phrase like cab driver.

 

I’ll say it slowly. Watch my lips as I pronounce the B consonant. Is it released or unreleased?

 

cab driver

 

I pronounced this with an unreleased B consonant. Listen again: 

 

cab driver

 

 It’s not, cab driver, with a released B consonant. It’s cab driver, with an unreleased B. 

 

I’ll demonstrate an unreleased B consonant and a fully released B consonant. Listen closely to the B sound and see if you can hear the difference.

 

cab driver

 

cab driver

 

The unreleased B is more acceptable for linking. The fully released B has too much of a release, and it disrupts the fluency of the phrase.



Linking with B /b/: Consonant to vowel

I’ve discussed how to link with the B 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 B consonant, and the next word begins with a vowel, like in the sentence “The cab is here”, native speakers usually take the B consonant and put it onto the beginning of the next word.

 

So the phrase cab is here is really said like “ca - bis here”.

 

“ca - bis here” 

 

“ca - bis here” 

 

It’s not, cab is with a released B, it’s “ca - bis”, with the B sound placed at the beginning of the word is.

 

Linking with B /b/: Practice

Let’s practice linking words together using the B 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 B sound will be unreleased. If the next word begins with a vowel, the B 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. 



Hubspot

 

Grab a chair 

 

Lab coat

 

Dab of glue

 

Tube riding



I hope you enjoyed this video from San Diego Voice and Accent. Thanks for watching, and enjoy your day!