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Phonology and the Teaching of Pronunciation - Essay Example

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Phonology and the Teaching of Pronunciation

In English, most connected speech processes are unimportant when distinguishing between speakers of all accents (Roach, 2004:1). Native speakers have many tools for dealing with unclear words and sounds that are caused by connected speech for they are already familiar within that context. But native speakers also experience stumbling over their words because of their lack of awareness of the little tricks or the rules in avoiding the difficulties in speech.
Studying connected speech is important because of two essential factors (Basquille, n.d.:4). First, native speakers of the English language do not pause between each sound or word, as already mentioned, but they move effortlessly from one sound or word to the next. Second, English is considered as a malleable language, meaning not all syllables within a word are equal. There are weak syllables that disappear or not heard at all and strong syllables that are stressed and lengthened. An example is the question: "How long have you been living here" where the "how" is hardly pronounced, "have you been" contracts, and "long" and "living" expand.
Because English has been described as "stress-timed as opposed to a syllable-timed language", meaning stressed and unstressed syllables may extremely vary at irregular intervals of time, sentences are quite elastic (Basquille, n.d.:4). ...
These refer to the different aspects of connected speech:
1) vowel weakening,
2) assimilation,
3) elision,
4) intrusion and linking.
This paper aims to find out the rules that native speakers of English follow to string words together that brings confusion and problems to students who are learning English. Vowel weakening, assimilation, elision and intrusion and linking are the features of connected speech that are necessary for learning English, whether a native or a non-native speaker.

Aspects of Connected Speech

Vowel Weakening
In the phonetics of English, weak forms refer to the group of words which have one pronunciation: strong when isolated and weak when not stressed within a phrase (Brett, 2007; Roach, 2004:2). Weak forms are recognized by an alteration in vowel quality from a border position on the vowel quadrilateral to a central position. The common vowel in a weak form is the schwa // and they are pronounced at a faster rate and a lower volume than stressed syllables and they are not central to changes in intonation.
Weak forms can be seen in words which are necessary to construct a phrase but they do not deliver much information for they are not content words (Brett, 2007; Roach, 2004:4). An example is the sentence: I went to the hotel and booked a room for two nights for my father and his best friend (/a went t h tel n bkt ru:m f tu: nats f ma f:r n hz best frend/). In the sentence, the words that are central to the message are emphasized: went, hotel, booked room, two nights, father, and best friend. If the weak forms or the words that are not emphasized are eliminated from the sentence, the set of phrases may be a little difficult to interpret but they can still ...Show more


Many people are complaining that English people talk very rapidly (Roach, 2004:1; Steele, 2005). It is because of the fact that speech is a continuous stream of sounds without specific constraints between them (Steele, 2005). This speech is called connected speech where a natural, smooth-flowing manner of speaking is used…
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