How can you link two consonants to get smooth Americans speech? It’s just a matter of breaking down the two sounds, and figuring out what you need to change in your mouth position between the two sounds.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over linking consonant to consonant.
Linking is an important part of American English. If we break between each word, it sounds very choppy. But in American English, we like to link words together for a smooth sound. I’ve already made videos on linking Vowel to Vowel and Consonant to Vowel. Linking Consonant to Consonant happens all the time in American English. In that sentence right there it happened four times: ng-kk, nt-tt, nt-hh, and ll-th. We can’t cover every example of linking consonant to consonant as there are simply too many combinations for this video, but I will give you some examples.
First let’s talk about linking the same consonant. Take the example ‘gas station’. It’s not ‘gas station’, with two separate S’s, it’s ‘gas station’: one S, connecting the two words. I’m going to the gas station. I already used this example last year when I took a road trip. Click here to see that video, or go to the video description. Another example: some might, some might. Again, not some might, but some might, connected with one M. Some might think so.
The rule gets a little complicated when we bring in Stop Consonants. The six stop consonants are t, d, p, b, k, and g. When these meet in between two words, like ‘hot today’, you have to stop the air to signify the first consonant, then release the sound into the next word. So, it’s not ‘hahtoday’, but ‘hot today’, with a stop. So to make that stop, I’m just holding the air in my throat, for a fraction of a second. Another example, ‘bad dog’. It’s not ‘baadog’, but bad dog, with a stop.
This is true in general when we’re linking a stop consonant to any other consonant. For example, peanut butter – stopped T, released B, peanut butter. Not ‘peanuh butter’, with no stop, but also not ‘peanut butter’ with a released T, but peanut butter. Flip phone. Here we stop the sound with the lips in position for the P, then go straight into the F consonant without releasing the P. Flip phone, flip phone. It’s not ‘flip phone’, with a full release, and it’s not flihphone, with no stop of air. We have to stop the air. Flip phone, flip phone. This way of linking ending stop consonants to words that begin with another consonant is a great trick to add to your English if you haven’t already. Some students have trouble with this, and add an additional schwa sound between words in order to link in these situations. So ‘hot sauce’ becomes something more like ‘hot-uh-sauce’. So remember, don’t release that ending stop consonant, just stop the air.
For all other cases, you’ll just need to isolate the two sounds in question and practice. Let’s take for example ‘It’s a tough one’. Here we’re linking the F and W sounds. Practice them separately, ff, ww, ff, ww. Now practice them together, sliding slowly from one sound to the other ff-ww, ff-ww. Really think about what you’re moving to transition in-between these two sounds. In this case, my bottom lip was touching the bottom of the top front teeth, ff, and then the lips round out. My tongue doesn’t have to move. Ff-ww, ff-ww, tough one, tough one. Tough one. It’s a tough one. So, isolate the sounds, practice them separately, practice them together slowly, speed them up and put them back into the context of the words and eventually the sentence.
Let’s look at one more example. We’ll link the N sound to the R sound: On Rachel’s desk. Here, my lips and tongue have to move. Nn, rr, nn, rr. Now link them together slowly: nn, rr. You may see my lips are rounding a little bit as I’m making the N, that’s in preparation for the R. The tongue goes from having the top part of the front of the tongue at the roof of the mouth here, NN, to having the front part of the tongue touching nothing. As the tongue pulls back for the R So for the R, the middle part of the tongue is touching the roof of the mouth, or maybe the insides of the teeth, about here. Nn-rr. Onn-Rr, Onn-Rrachel’s. I’m really feeling the tongue move up and then back, on Rachel’s, on Rachel’s. On Rachel’s desk.
Check out the other videos that I’ve made, that address some consonant to consonant linking. Take any short text and look for words that should link consonant to consonant. For each case, think about what kind of linking it is. Is the consonant the same? Is the first consonant a stop consonant? Practice it slowly. Linking is a crucial part of smoothing out speech, sounding American.
Put an example of a simple sentence where you would need to link consonant to consonant below in the comments. Practice with the sentences that everyone else puts!
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.