Phonology of English: What is Phonemic Assimilation mean?

CHAPTER TWO

2 a ii). Analyze the concept of Phonemic Assimilation and its impact on Phonology

Phonemic Assimilations

Assimilation (phonology) In phonologyassimilation is a common phonological process by which one sound becomes more like a nearby sound. This can occur either within a word or between words. It occurs in normal speech, and it becomes more common in more rapid speech.

Sometimes the influence of adjacent sounds is so great that speakers come to pronounce the same word (or part of a word) with completely different phonemes in different contexts. Often such variation is optional happening mainly in quicker or less formal speech.

For example:

/guddei/ “good day” /gubbai/ “good bye”

/wΛnnouz/ “one knows” /wΛmminit/ “one minute”

/h∂tdai/ “hot day” /h∂kkeiks/ “hot cakes”

/h ∂: s/ “horse” /h∂:∫∫ u: z/ “horse-shores”

In each example in the second column above, a phonemic assimilation has taken place. One phoneme has been substituted for another under the influence of the following consonant. For instance in the first example the /d/ of “good” has been replaced by a bi-labial /b/ under the influence of the bi-labial /b/ which follows.

Some such assimilation, once optional, has become compulsory in modern English. For example:

i). “-(e)s” endings:

After voiced sounds (including all vowels): /z/.

E.g.: “rugs”, “gives”, “John’s”, Sings”, “pours”, “people’s”.

After voiceless sounds: /s/.

E.g. “pits”, “Dick’s”, “sips”, “sniffs”, “lumps”, “prints”.

Exceptions: after the “hissing” and “hushing” sounds /s/, /z/, /∫/, /∍/, /t∫/ and /d∍/, a vowel /i/ is inserted, giving the pronunciation /iz/

E.g.: “hisses”, “buzzes”, “cashes”, “catches”, “judges”.

ii). “-ed” endings:

After voiced sounds (including all vowels): /d/.

E.g.: “robbed”, “killed”, “played”, “frowned” After voiceless sounds: /t/.

E.g. “hacked”, “missed”, “rushed”, “pounced”

Exceptions: after /t/ or /d/, a vowel /i/ is inserted, giving the pronunciation

/iz/.

E.g. “added”, “Spotted”.

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