Assimilatory Processes: Sounds in Contact
Source: MacKay, I. R. A. 1978, Introducing Practical Phonetics, Boston, Litte, Brown and Company
ü Speech is a dynamic rather than a static phenomenon, and the articulators are in state of constant movement during speech.
ü The result is that sounds are modified by the context they are in.
ü While it is true that assimilations are reduced in careful speech, it is not true that assimilations and other combinatory phenomena are necessarily something “bad” or “lazy” . . . . They are entirely normal: speech without assimilations would sound terribly stilted and might be incomprehensible.
ü Two general processes: assimilaton and coarticulation.
ü Assimilation: . . . the ways in which the primary articulation of speech sounds becomes like that of surrounding sounds.
ü Coarticulation: . . . the small modifications, resulting from secondary articulatory gestures that occur to speech sounds in particular contexts.
ü Context / phonetic environment = the speech sounds near the phone in question.
ü . . .a sound becoming like neighboring sounds.
ü Assimilation can affect the place of articulation, the manner of articulation, voicing, or a combination of these factors.
ü It may result in: total change (two sounds become identical) or partial change (two sounds become more alike).
10.2.1 Progressive Assimilation
ü . . . a sound affects one that follows.
dog + -s > dogs /dogz/ (voiced g > s becomes z)
cat + s > cats /cats/ (voiceless t > s remains an s)
Ridge Street > s in street becomes sh as the influence of sound dj at the end of ridge
10.2.2 Regressive Assimilation
ü . . . a sound being modified by the sound that follows.
ü Example: noise shield > s at the end of noise becomes sh because of the sound sh at the beginning of shield
10.2.3 Double Assimilation
ü A sound is influenced by the sounds before and after it.
ü Example: t in latter is devoiced (but not in t in “material” because it is stressed)
10.2.4 Total and Partial Assimilation
ü Total assimilation: nutcracker > t becomes k, winter > t becomes n, or t disapears
ü Partial assimilation: dogs > s becomes z (only voicing is changed)
ü Coarticulation = Articulatory movements for one phone which are carried over into the production of previous or subsequent phones, but which do not affect the primary place of articulation.
ü Example: /p/ in /pi/ and /pu/ has different forms of jaw, lip, and tongue.
ü Primary Articulation : most important articulatory gesture
ü In the pronunciation of /p/ in /pi/, bilabial plosion is more important than the position of tongue against palatal region and rather spread lips. Therefore, bilabial plosion is the primary articulation in syllable /pi/, while the tongue position and lip rounding are secondary articulation.
ü Secondary articulation is not always audible, but can cause different sounds.
ü Primary articulations can be modified by processes of:
v Labialization > /k/ in “quid”
v Palatalization > /d/ becomes /dj/ (palatalized) in “did you”
v Velarization > dark l in “eels” /i:lz/
v Nasalization > sound æ in “man” is nazalized because of m and n
v Pharyngealization > o in “roar” is pharyngealized because of r (partly pharyngeal sound)
v Glottalization = oral plosive + glottal stop > “nature”