Connected speech or connected discourse is a continuous sequence of sounds forming utterances or conversations in spoken language. Analysis of connected speech shows sound changes affecting linguistic units traditionally described as phrases, words, lexemes, morphemes, syllables, phonemes or phones. The words that are modified by those rules will sound differently in connected speech than in citation form.

Features of Connected Speech

Assimilation

Assimilation occurs when a phoneme (sound) in one word causes a change in a sound in a neighbouring word. For example, try saying the following pairs of words:

  • in Bath

  • last year

  • Hyde Park

You’ll notice that the last sound of the first word changes in each case. The /n/ sound becomes /m//t/ becomes /tʃ/ and /d/ becomes /b/.

Elision

Elision is the loss of a phoneme, most commonly the last phoneme of a word, and most commonly the /t/ and /d/ sounds. Have a look at these examples:

  • left back

  • stand by

  • looked back

  • I must go

In each case the last phoneme of the first word is elided (lost). In the most simple terms, the reason is that the time and effort required to change the mouth position from the /t/ to the /b/ sound (as in the first example) or the /t/ to the /g/ sound (as in the last example) is too great!

Delayed Plosion

Our “red dye” and “red eye” is an example of this. To articulate “red dye”, we must take a very short pause before the /d/ sound. The /d/ is an example of a plosive, consonant sounds where the vocal tract stops all airflow. Other examples are /b/,/d//g//p//t/ and /k/. This pause before the plosive gives us the name of this feature, delayed plosion.

Another example: the right tie (delay) – the right eye (no delay)

Catenation

In catenation the last consonant of the first word is joined to the vowel sound at the start of the second word. For example:

pick it up – (learners will hear something like pi ki tup)

what is it – (learners will hear something like wo ti zit)

Intrusion

Intrusion is what you might expect from the name – an extra sound “intrudes” into the spoken utternace. Try saying the following pairs of words:

  • media event

  • I always

  • go away

Do you hear the /r/ sound intruding after “media”, the /j/ sound intruding after “I” and the /w/ sound intruding after “go”?

Geminates (twin sounds)

These are like twins — two of the same consonant sounds back-to-back. When the same letter ends a word and starts the next word, you should connect the two words in your speech. In this connection, you will say only one sound of that letter. 

For example:

  • Social life –> socialife

  • Pet turtle –> Peturtle

  • I want to –> I wanto 

Download Connected Speech Exercises in PDF:

Connected Speech Exercises 1

Connected Speech Exercises 2

Connected Speech Exercises 3 

Connected Speech Exercises 4