Why are linking sounds important?
Linking sounds is needed to make English sound more fluent. Without linking sounds, there will be many awkward pauses or unnecessary sounds. This makes linking sounds essential for ESL students because these extra pauses and noises will sound mainly foreign to a native speaker of English.
English is a language that sounds very smooth, and one of the ways this smoothness is achieved is through linking sounds.
Linking sounds in English examples
Linking sounds in English examples come in all different forms. The one most people are familiar with is blending, but other examples of connecting sounds in English include changing sounds, omitting sounds, and doubling sounds.
Blending is when one sound moves into another smoothly. It works particularly well for continuous consonants.
An example of this would be “this morning,” where the “s” from “this” and the “m” from morning blend together.
You might also blend consonant and vowel sounds too.
For example, in “this apple,” the s is shared between the s and the a.
When sounds next to each other overlap, it can change how one or both sound.
One of the ways this happens is something called nasal aspiration. This is where the flap in the back of the mouth is closed for “d” sounds but then opens for an “n” sound, but the tongue stays in the same place.
An example is, “the girl did nothing wrong.”
This would allow the flap to stay closed for the d and open for the n. It would stop air at the d but rerelease it at the d sound.
There is also something called lateral aspiration, which links “d” and “l.” So the d would be said commonly, but the l would release the tongue.
An example of this would be “red light.”
Sometimes rather than sounds merging or altering due to different letters, this linking sound combines sounds into a new sound. For example, this happens when either d or t comes before y.
For example, “won’t you” use assimilation to make a different sound. The “t” and the “y” create a “ch” sound that makes the phrase sound like “wonchu.”
Sometimes an additional sound is placed between others. When pronouncing vowels clearly, sometimes adding a “w” or a “y” sound can help.
Double sounds happen when a word finishes with a consonant, and the following letter begins with the same one. These double consonants link by pronouncing one single sound but extending how long it is said for.
For example, “spring garden” uses an elongated g that is released into the word “garden.”