linking in english

Linking in English Pronunciation, Types and Rules

Linking is a phonetic contrast in some English dialects that occurs when adjacent syllables are pronounced without separation by hiatus. In other words, the vowel sounds in two consecutive syllables are run together. This can happen when two words are put together to form a new word (as in America), when one word is attached to the end of another word (as in sofa king good), or when a pronoun is attached to a participle (as in I’m working). Although it appears as if there is only one vowel sound, native English speakers produce separate vowel sounds by adding length, tension, and/or vibrato to the first vowel.

Here is an example: the word ‘linking’ will be pronounced with three distinct vowel sounds /lɪŋ.kɪŋ/, even though there are only two vowel letters. The same principle applies to other words such as ‘working’ /ˈwɜːr.kɪŋ/ and ‘sofa’ /ˈsəʊ.fə/.

Linking is most common in North American English, but it can also be heard in some dialects of British English, such as Cockney, Estuary English, and received pronunciation. In these dialects, linking is used to avoid hiatus (a break between two vowels). For example, the phrase “I saw” would be pronounced /aɪ sɔː/ instead of /aɪ ˈsɔː/.

Linking can also change the meaning of words. For instance, the word “hot” can mean either “of high temperature” or “attractive.” If the word “hot” is linked to the word “dog,” the result is a new word with a different meaning: “hotdog.” In this case, the linking serves to create a new word that is easier to say.

Types of Linking

There are two basic types of linking in English pronunciation:

  1. Consonant – Vowel
  2. Vowel -Vowel

Consonant – Vowel Linking

The conso-vowel linking is the most common type of linking. It happens when a word that ends in a consonant sound is followed by a word that begins with a vowel sound. In this case, the final consonant sound of the first word and the initial vowel sound of the second word are linked together.

Here are some examples:

  1. The word ‘cat’ ends with a consonant sound /t/, and the word ‘egg’ begins with a vowel sound /ɛ/. The result is that the two sounds are linked together: /kæt.ɛg/.
  2. The word ‘bed’ ends with a consonant sound /d/, and the word ‘room’ begins with a vowel sound /uː/. The result is that the two sounds are linked together: /bɛd.ruːm/.
  3. The word ‘dog’ ends with a consonant sound /g/, and the word ‘house’ begins with a vowel sound /aʊ/. The result is that the two sounds are linked together: /dɔː.gaʊs/.

Vowel – Vowel Linking

The vowel-vowel linking is less common than the consonant-vowel linking. It happens when a word that ends in a vowel sound is followed by a word that begins with a vowel sound. In this case, the final vowel sound of the first word and the initial vowel sound of the second word are linked together.

Here are some examples:

  1. The word ‘bee’ ends with a vowel sound /iː/, and the word ‘eating’ begins with a vowel sound /iː/. The result is that the two sounds are linked together: /biː.tiːŋ/.
  2. The word ‘key’ ends with a vowel sound /i/, and the word ‘open’ begins with a vowel sound /oʊ/. The result is that the two sounds are linked together: /ki.oʊpən/.
  3. The word ‘goose’ ends with a vowel sound /uː/, and the word ‘egg’ begins with a vowel sound /ɛ/. The result is that the two sounds are linked together: /guː.sɛg/.

Linking Rules

There are three general rules for linking in English pronunciation:

1. If a word ends in a voiced sound, the following word should begin with a voiced sound.

2. If a word ends in a voiceless sound, the following word should begin with a voiceless sound.

3. If a word ends in a vowel sound, the following word should begin with a vowel sound.

These rules are not absolute, but they provide a good general guide for linking sounds in English.

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