Тлумачний словник

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Assimilation, adaptation, accommodation, elision

In the process of speech, that is in the process of transition from the articulatory work of the neighbouring one, sounds are modified. These modifications can be conditioned:

a) by the complementary distribution of the phonemes, e.g. the fully back /u:/ becomes back-advanced under the influence of the preceding mediolingual sonorant /j/ in the words tune, nude.

The mid-open, front /e/ becomes more open followed by the dark in hell, tell sell.

b) by the contextual variations in which phonemes may occur at the junction of words, e.g. the alveolar phoneme /n/ in the combination in the is assimilated to the dental: official or rapid colloquial. E.g. slight pressure may turn variant under the influence of th which follows it.

c) By the style of speech into colloquial speech.

Assimilation is the chief factor under the influence of which the principal variants of phonemes are modified into subsidiary ones.

Assimilation is a modification of a consonant under the influence of a neighbouring consonant.

When a consonant is modified under the influence of an adjacent vowel or vice versa this phenomenon is called adaptation or accommodation, e.i. tune, keen.

When one of the neighbouring sounds is not realized in rapid speech this process is called elision.

Assimilation which occurs in everyday speech in the present-day pronunciation is called living.

Assimilation which took place at an earlier stage in the history of the language is called historical.

The direction of assimilation (and accomodation) is concerned it can be:

· Progressive, when the first of the two sounds affected by assimilation makes the second sound similar to itself, e.g. in desks, pegs, the sounds /k/ and /g/ make the plural inflection /s/ similar to the voiceless /k/ in desks and to the voiced /g/ in /pegz/.

· Regressive, when the second of the two sounds affected by assimilation makes the first sound similar to itself, e.g. in the combination at the the alveolar /1/ becomes dental, assimilated to the interdental /th/ which follows it.

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· Double, or reciprocal, when the two adjacent sounds influence each other, e.g. twice /t/ is rounded under the influence of /w/ and /w / is partly devoiced under the influence of the voiceless /t/.

To make the mechanism of articulatory transitions clear it should be viewed in detail in terms of the articulatory work of speech producing mechanisms.

Each sound pronounced in isolation has its three stages in its articulation.

During the first stage the organs of speech move to the position which is necessary to pronounce the sound. It is called differently by different authors: initial stage, on-glide, excursion. During the second stage the organs of speech are kept for some time in the position necessary to pronounce the sound. This stage is called final stage, off-glide, recursion, release.

When the two neighbouring sounds are affected by assimilation, it may influence:

1. the work of the vocal cords: e.g. gooseberry /s/ became voiced under the influence of the next voiced /b/ - regressive assimilation.

2. the active organ of speech

3. the manner of production: e.g. in the word trip alveolar /t/ becomes post-alveolar and has a fricative release.

4. both: the place of articulation and the manner of voice production.

Assimilation in English differs from the Russian mainly along the lines of direction: progressive voicing or devoicing is very rare in Russian, but quite common in English. It occurs in the following cases:

1. Contrusted forms of verbs, when the ending s is preceded by a voiced or a voiceless consonant, e.g. Bob’s gone, that’s right.

2. Suffixes –(e)s of the nouns in the plural, or the third person singular, e.g. girls, writes.

3. The possessive suffix –s’ or –‘s, e.g. Jack’s hat. Bob’s dog.

4. The past tense suffix –ed, e.g. lived, looked.




1. Assimilation, adaptation, accommodation, elision, their definitions.

2. Types of assimilation. 3 Stages of assimilation

3. The difference between the mechanisms of articulatory transitions in English ad in Russian.




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Lecture 5 | Lecture 8

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