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Assimilation in English




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There are some remarkable differences between the pronunciation of a word in isolation and of the same word in a block of connected speech. These changes are mostly quite regular and predictable. The modification of a consonant under the influence of the adjoining consonant in the flow of speech is known as assimilation. (Assimilation is a process of alteration of speech sounds as a result of which one of the sounds becomes fully or partially similar to the adjoining sound). The term accommodation is often used to denote the interchanges of “vowel + consonant” type or “consonant + vowel” type. The manner of articulation is also changed as a result of assimilation, which may be illustrated as follows:

1. Loss of plosion.

2. Lateral plosion.

3. Nasal plosion.

Assimilation may affect

1. the work of the lips,

2. tongue,

3. soft palate walls of the pharynx

Consonants may be modified according

1. to the place of obstruction,

2. to the manner of articulatiuon,

3. to the lip position,

4. to the position of the soft palate.

According to the direction of assimilation, it may be

1. progressive (pens, calls, desks, books)

2. regressive

3. reciprocal (double)

Regressive a. is most common in both languages: English and Russian.

According to the degree a. may be

1. complete,

2. incomplete.

Assimilation may be also

1. historical, in cases when its process is already fixed in present-day English and

2. living, when it acts in living speech of speakers of to-day.

Some cases of a. are considered to be

1. obligatory, functioning according to the accepted norm of the language, used by the educated people, while the other

2. non-obligatory are met only in the speech of the illiterate part of the population of the country.

Assimilation is the likening of two adjoining sounds. The adaptive modification of a consonant by a neighbouring consonant in the speech chain is known as assimilation. The term accommodation is often used by linguists to denote the interchanges of “vowel + consonant type” or “consonant + vowel type”. One of the wide – spread sound changes is vowel reduction. Elision or complete loss of sounds, both vowels and consonants, is often observed in English. Consonants are modified according to the place of articulation, in order to become more like a neighbouring sound.

According to the direction of assimilation it may be of two kinds:

1. Progressive .( gooseberry, newspaper)

2. Regressive (twins, pride).

According to the degree of assimilation it may be

1. complete (horse-shoe)

2. incomplete (London bridge).



Assimilation may be

1. historical

2. living.

Historical took place in the historical development of the language while living a. acts at a present period.

Assimilation is recognized as obligatory when it follows the phonetic laws of the language acquired by the educated population. Non-obligatory a. is met in uneducated speech of population.

Lecture 4 Syllable Formation in English

1. The Principle Theories on Syllable.

2. Syllable Construction in English.

3. Structural aspect of the English syllable.





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